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Reviewed 18 October 2017 via mobile

The tour is led by an actor who plays the role of a resident. Some interesting historical information, especially about the living conditions in general and the plague. Probably not worth going out of your way for, but it’s a fun way to spend an hour or so (I don’t remember exactly how long the tour was).

Thank Erica L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RealMaryKingsClose, Public Relations Manager at The Real Mary King's Close, responded to this reviewResponded 23 October 2017

Thank you for sharing your feedback with us. We're glad to hear that you enjoyed the tour, even if you did find it a bit cheesy. We're pleased that you found the history interesting. On the one hour fully guided tour, guests are shown the remains of original streets and houses, some of which date back over five hundred years, where the people of Edinburgh would have lived when these streets were open to the skies.
Thank you for taking the time to share your review with us.

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Reviewed 18 October 2017 via mobile

It's a tourists attraction trying to show how the city was a couple centuries ago.
But in the end you see really few. It's not a ghosts tour. They show real parts of the old city.
In my opinion it is too expensive, and it's too demanded. If you have to book in advance in October, I can't imagine in July.
Guide (Venezuelan guy) was very nice with the explanation

Thank Adrian0902
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RealMaryKingsClose, Public Relations Manager at The Real Mary King's Close, responded to this reviewResponded 23 October 2017

We're sorry to hear that you were disappointed by the tour, especially as we have so many positive reviews. As a popular visitor attraction in the centre of the city strongly recommend booking in advance at all times of year, as we frequently sell out. We set our prices in line with other similar attractions in Edinburgh.
On our one hour fully guided tour we tell the real history of the real people of Edinburgh in a fun and engaging way that is accessible to all. As you mention, we are not a ghost tour nor do we pretend to be.
Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us.

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Reviewed 18 October 2017

A true historic site that is completely ruined by only guided tours which were actually poorly acted plays with no content. they sell it as a historic tour and the best tour for the history of the closes. but I havent learned anything about the closes that wasnt in the brochure already. I can imagine that it is quite nice for children but not for adults and definetly not for adults interested in the history of the closes. A combination of wax figures, pre-recorded video's coming from "picture frames" and poorly acting by your "guide". They do offer a special ghost tour that I havent tried. but can you please make a serious history tour for interested adults! this was cringing and annoying also because you cant abandon the tour half way through and let me tell you: I had seen everything worth wile by then. What a waste of money and time! not recommended for anyone above the age of 15.

Thank sybil1990
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RealMaryKingsClose, Public Relations Manager at The Real Mary King's Close, responded to this reviewResponded 19 October 2017

We're sorry to hear that you were disappointed by the tour, especially as we have so many positive reviews. As a popular visitor attraction in the centre of the city we tell the real history of the real people of Edinburgh in a fun and engaging way that is accessible to all. Each of our character guides plays the role of a thoroughly researched former resident of Edinburgh's Closes. We're sorry to hear that this theatrical representation was not your cup of tea.
We're a bit confused by your comment about a special ghost tour, as we do not run any ghost tours.
Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us.

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Reviewed 18 October 2017 via mobile

Made a visit on our trip to Edinburgh, it's really very interesting and fascinating to see such an old close that has survived, the guide (a young wee girl, I forget her nsme) was extremely knowledgeable about the close and told the story's very well, it took about a hour to go round, its best to pre book online, there's a lovely gift shop & cafe as well, if your into history & how the people of Edinburgh used to live then I would highly recommend a visit .

Thank Kimberley H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 October 2017

Cringeworthy and agonizing are the only words that can accurately describe how horrible The Real Mary King’s Close is. I simply cannot understand how this comes so highly rated, not only from TripAdvisor but from some of my close friends.

The experience is designed for you to feel like you are stepping into the lives of the people of old Edinburgh, where everyone lived in “closes,” or sloping, skinny alleyways lined by multi-story buildings (these are now underground, as the upper levels were chopped off to provide a foundation for what is now modern-day Edinburgh). Since the close is simply a small alleyway, the majority of the tour takes place in the various rooms/apartments that line the close. Most of these are rather boring stone-lined rooms without much content. Furthermore, the tour groups are too large for the available space. We had about 20 people on our tour, and each time we entered a new room there was an awkward shuffle trying to figure out where to stand. In one of the rooms, you watch pre-recorded projector-screen “paintings” argue with each other and talk about the close. However, the group was so large that someone was always inadvertently blocking the screen or couldn’t get into a good position to see. 5 people less would have been an ideal number. Not to mention that it seems like a cop-out to charge money to watch pre-recorded videos that just happen to be in an underground room.

In order to make a relatively bland topic engaging, ideally an attraction would educate their visitors on relevant history or tell a compelling story. The Real Mary King’s Close does neither of these. While the creators attempted to provide a look into the lives of historical figures, The Real Mary King’s Close was not compelling, nor did it create an immersive experience. It was so overacted and contrite that none of our group left with a positive impression. The actual historical content was sparse at best (yes, there was plague back in the day, but make it interesting, please!!), and as such the major focus of the tour is the stories of the actual people who lived there, presented as a combination of live acting, wax figures, and pre-recorded videos.

Your tour guide is supposed to be in character the whole time, acting as one of the occupants of the close, a premise which requires a suspension of disbelief to execute properly. Fiona P was our tour guide, and while she meant well, it was agonizing to watch her attempt to engage the group with poorly written jokes and an obviously fake and overacted accent. Nearly every joke she told was met with stunned silence from our group, as they simply weren’t funny and were mostly awkward. To make matters worse, when a joke obviously didn’t land, she would proclaim “yay!” in an annoying, almost whiny accent that was laughable. This continued even when she made declarative statements that didn’t warrant a response from our group, and her mannerism was used so frequently that it became a running joke for the remainder of our vacation. It was so cringeworthy that a woman with another party even started banging her head against the wall as the tour went on. Overall, it really pulled you out of the storytelling mindset you need to be in to appreciate the close properly.

Furthermore, it is not an exaggeration to say that half of the words out of Fiona’s mouth were multi-step instructions about the low doorways and uneven floors that are prevalent throughout. This really took me out of the experience. Everyone on the tour is a competent adult, you would think one warning at the beginning would be all you need. But no, that is too much to ask.

Since the acting left much to be desired, you would hope that there would actually be some interesting things to see in the close itself, but sadly, if you expect this you will be disappointed. Several of the rooms are completely empty, and the remainder have boring wax figures that require explanation from your guide. The few gimmicks they have installed don’t really help you get a feel for life in the close and were boring.

Finally, at times the tour was just completely awkward. There was one room in the close that was filled with benches (and nothing more), which was supposed to lend itself to a Q&A session. Not surprisingly, no one in our group had any questions, but we weren’t allowed to move on, so we all just sat in silence and stared at each other for ten minutes. I think this part was designed to allow time for the group ahead of us to take their photos in the close itself, but it just highlighted how this entire experience was more like a cattle call designed to sell as many tickets as possible in a single day.

If I haven’t convinced you to stay away, know that during busy times (namely weekends), you shouldn’t expect to be able to walk-in and buy tickets. That doesn’t mean you have to book weeks in advance though. We booked weekend tickets the evening before, and there were 6-8 mid-afternoon timeslots available at that time. However, at the time we showed up, I heard one of the staff explaining that they were sold out for the day. And if you have a tight schedule, you may want to book in advance to get a specific time.

Overall, The Real Mary King’s Close wasn’t worth a single dollar. They really should have paid me to endure it. And surprise, their customer service leaves much to be desired as well. I emailed them asking for a refund, as well as filled out the survey they send out afterwards, but my comments were met with silence. My friends often turn to me to recommend things to do and plan trips, and in this case I failed them. Never before have I felt the need to apologize to my group for an event I planned, but in this case, it was a clear blunder, as evidenced by the mockery we made of it the moment we exited. Do yourself a favor and spend $20 on literally anything else. If you need a tip, walk one close over and have a delicious cocktail at The Devil’s Advocate. Or throw your money into a sewer drain. Either would be better than having to suffer through The Real Mary King’s Close.

3  Thank exces6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
RealMaryKingsClose, Public Relations Manager at The Real Mary King's Close, responded to this reviewResponded 18 October 2017

Hello Joshua,
We're so sorry to hear that you were disappointed with your experience with us. We receive many many positive reviews, so it is distressing to hear that you felt so let down.
As we responded to your comment on facebook, we have not received an email from you. Please can you email contact@realmarykingsclose.com and we will do everything we can to resolve this.
Kind regards,
The Real Mary King's Close

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