The Birthplace of Harry Potter

There’s a coffee shop in Edinburgh, Scotland, that claims to be the birthplace of Harry Potter. Or, more specifically, the cafe in which J.K. Rowling wrote much of her early Harry Potter novels.

Being a Potterhead (as you already know I am from this and this), I couldn’t be in Edinburgh and not visit!

The coffee house is called “The Elephant House,” and it’s on Marshall Street, an easy stroll from the Royal Mile.

Elephant playing soccer GIF

No, no, wrong elephant.

Elephant House sign

Yeah, that’s the one.

Now, I don’t like coffee and I’m not entirely on the tea bandwagon, but the place served food, so I thought I’d go and have a meal there.

There were three major disappointments:

1. There was hardly any food. The menu wasn’t huge, but additionally, every time I ordered something, they proclaimed to be “out of it.” I couldn’t even find a sandwich I liked. (And I love sandwiches!)

But, I thought, it is a coffee shop, so it may be forgiven! The next, however, was shocking.

2. There was no internet.

No. Internet. In the year 2013!? No wonder J.K. Rowling got so much work done!!

I’d banked on checking in with the folks back home during my lunch here. Ironically, I had to go to Starbucks after visiting this coffee shop just to email my mom.

But again, this could be forgiven in a city as old and graceful as Edinburgh (even though I know you’ve only been open since 1995, Elephant House), but the next could not be forgiven.

3. The staff was not nice. The woman who took my order was downright rude! The one who brought my food was hella cranky. Maybe I just happened to visit on a bad day, but I got the feeling the ire was directed at the “non-regulars.”

I understand that they don’t have to cater to customers anymore since they’re guaranteed a steady stream of tourist traffic, but come on! At least be nice to the people supporting your business, no matter what their motive for visiting!

Instead of visiting, why not just check out their super creepy live cam.

Now, complaints over, I’ll also give you the two things I did enjoy about the place:

1. The view. It’s cute on the inside, and the back room gives a wonderful view of Edinburgh Castle up on its pedestal.

Since you won’t be checking your email, you’ll at least have something nice to look at while you write the next Harry Potter.


It’s an elephant, get it??


Not all the chairs are elephants.

Elephant House Harry Potter

I’m starting to sense a theme …

2. The photo op. There’s a nice sign on the outside of the coffee shop proclaiming its Harry Potter association, so it’s a prime photo op!

Birthplace of Harry Potter

Just be careful not to get hit by a car when backing up for the perfect shot.

Harry Potter cafe Elephant House

My friend Rako’s writing the next Harry Potter!

So there you have it. One girl’s guide to the Harry Potter coffee shop.

Like most things Potter, my visit was deemed worth it not by the actual place, but by the magic my imagination associated with it.

Sincerely Annie

P.S. I’ll leave you with this:

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  1. A friend of the blog says:

    Once again proof that success breeds contempt…although it’s supposed to be the other way round, eh?

  2. Mark m says:

    The other thing you should know is that not only is the Elephant House crap, it lies about its heritage. This was not the birthplace of HP. jKR did visit a few times , but this was after the first book was published. The cafe scream and shout in a cynical way about it being the place, and tourists fall for this.

    The real place was nicholsons (now changed name) which is about 400 Yards away, and I believe was run by her brother in law..makes me sick how the Elephant House lay claim to this

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