Hotel Check in: Wrapped in centuries of Scottish history at the gates of Edinburgh Castle, The Witchery by the Castle is where an archaic bygone era meets extravagant luxury

In the heart of medieval Edinburgh, Witchery by the Castle tells the story of extraordinary history while displaying gothic opulence bathed in elegant tapestry, deep wood furnishings and antique décor. Accessed from a traditional close (a narrow, winding alley) off the Royal Mile, the Witchery by the Castle features nine uniquely accentuated cloak-and-dagger suites that sit above the Witchery and in the adjacent 17th-century Jollies Close. The Vestry uses a private entrance hall leading to a suite with an extravagantly draped bed highlighted by the organ pipe headboard, an abundance of ecclesiastical red, gold and black, a trompe l’oeil cardinal red bathroom that evokes a bishop’s palace and a bathtub designed for two. For the bibliophiles, The Library has a dramatic book-filled bathroom entered via its secret door through the gothic bedroom. Or, welcome the tranquility of The Inner Sanctum, loved for the antique four-poster bed draped with tapestries, masses of curios, uniforms and collectables, window seats for gazing over the Royal Mile, raised dining area, a study bedecked in tartan and the richly decorated bathroom featuring an antique bath.

James Thomson, owner of The Witchery

James Thomson, owner of The Witchery

Where you stayed: 

Witchery by the Castle 

What brought you to this hotel?

Aside from being able to say I stayed in a historic centuries old building, the hotel is conveniently close to attractions like Edinburgh Castle, diverse culinary options and tons of shopping. But the bygone times storytelling and hidden mystical exploration is what had me in awe. 

When did it open?

The Witchery

Photo: The Witchery

It was built in 1595 for merchant Thomas Lowthian. Then, on Halloween in 1979, restaurateur James Thomson found inspiration in this historic building and launched his first restaurant: The Witchery by the Castle. Thomson was only 20 years old and ran the establishment with only three staff members, becoming Scotland’s youngest licensee. A decade later, The Witchery had garnered worldwide status, and the demand was so high, Thomson created a second restaurant: The Secret Garden, in an abandoned schoolyard located next to the original Witchery dining room. Between Thomson’s atmospheric designs and culinary background, the Witchery became one of the first Restaurants with Rooms in Scotland. 

Any history to the place?

The Witchery is in the historic heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Aptly named, it’s dubbed after the hundreds of women and men who were charged with witchcraft and burned at the stake on Castlehill during the 16th and 17th centuries. It is reported that more witches were put to death on Castlehill during the reign of James VI than anywhere else in Scotland. It occupies an extraordinary 16th Century building, Boswell’s Court, named after a former resident, James Boswell. 

Photo: The Witchery

Photo: The Witchery

The Original dining room is housed in a 16th century merchants’ room, featuring painted gilded coats of arms, highlighting the Auld Alliance between France and Scotland. The 17th century oak walls  – rescued from a fire at St Giles Cathedral – are adorned with rich baroque décor. The tower of the Secret Garden Restaurant displays the arms of the Duke of Gordon, Keeper of the Keys to Edinburgh Castle. Look up and admire the painted ceiling, depicting the typical Scots vernacular style, inspired by the famous Rossend Castle ceiling now in the National Museum of Scotland. The atmosphere is lit by the soft glow of ancient candlesticks, where diners take in the fine-dining, local menu options and accompanying award-winning wine list. 

Location, location, location:

Located at the top of the Royal Mile – considered the backbone of Edinburgh’s Old Town, connecting the city’s most significant landmarks – the Witchery is next door to the Scotch Whisky Experience, a few feet from Cannonball Restaurant and beside Edinburgh Castle. It is easily accessible to tourist attractions, shopping, restaurants and historic monuments. 

Designed for everybody?

Designed for anyone with a love of witchery and mystery, but mostly for romantics. 

Breakfast in bed? 

Photo: The Witchery

Photo: The Witchery

The rooms are so extravagant and luxurious, staying in your suite wearing a plush robe and slippers while staff deliver a breakfast hamper filled with fresh pastries, cereal, meats and cheeses, juice, coffee and fruit is strongly recommended. 

What you loved:


Need to Know:

  • Complimentary continental breakfast hamper for your suite or à la carte breakfast in the Original Dining Room.
  • Nespresso coffee machine, selection of Pekoe teas, mineral water
  • Complimentary nibbles and treats
  • Dyson hairdryer
  • Penhaligon’s toiletries
  • Complimentary The Witchery tote bag
  • Bottle of Champagne in your suite on arrival when you book direct
  • Amazon Echo voice-controlled music system
  • Smart TV
  • Mood adjustable lighting
  • GHD hair straighteners
  • Bathrobes and slippers
  • Complimentary parking at the sister property Prestonfield House with complimentary taxi journey to The Witchery and return

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