The Witchery

Edinburgh, Scotland

Is The Witchery really haunted by witches?

Discover The Witchery in Edinburgh

'Scotland’s Most Romantic Hotel'.

Scotland on Sunday.

Within the confines of a 16th Century merchant’s house, The Witchery by the Castle, in Edinburgh is a popular establishment among locals, tourists, and celebrities. Containing nine luxuriously gothic suites, the venue exudes romance, often landing on lists of the world's most unique places to stay.

The Witchery 8
- Uwe Post

Established over 50 years ago by restaurateur James Thomson OBE, The Witchery is renowned as one of Edinburgh's best dining hot spots. Guests can choose between two dining rooms: The Original Dining Room or The Secret Garden Dining Room, both illuminated solely by candlelight and featuring historic details like intricately hand-painted ceilings, vines, tapestries, and oak panelling.

Whether indulging in fine Scottish cuisine in the lavishly decorated restaurants, or enjoying a stay in one of the nine theatrical hotel suites, visitors to The Witchery are transported to a bygone era, where history and luxury meet in Edinburgh's historic Old Town.

What’s in a Name?

The origins of the name "The Witchery by the Castle" are rooted in a dark chapter of Scottish history, characterised by widespread fear and persecution known as the era of Satanic panic and witch hunts.

During the reign of King James VI of Scotland, more individuals were condemned to death for witchcraft than under any other Scottish monarch. Initially sceptical about the existence of witches and supernatural forces, King James's perspective shifted dramatically after a harrowing experience in 1590.

Following a treacherous storm during his return from Scandinavia, his advisors attributed the calamity to the machinations of witches, particularly those from North Berwick. Under pressure, forced confessions were extracted through torture, leading to the condemnation of over 60 individuals.

This event began King James' intense preoccupation with witchcraft, prompting him to pen "Daemonologie" and dedicate himself to eradicating witchcraft from Scotland. The ensuing witch trials, fueled by national hysteria, saw thousands subjected to torture and execution, with an overwhelming majority being women.

Accusations of witchcraft became a convenient scapegoat for various misfortunes, from failed crops to livestock deaths, igniting paranoia and neighbourly suspicion. The Witchery's name pays homage to this grim legacy, with a nearby monument, the Witches’ Well, serving as a sombre reminder of those unjustly accused and persecuted.

Of course, no visit to The Witchery would be complete without delving into its haunted history as legend has it that the restaurant is haunted by the ghosts of its past inhabitants.

The Witchery 9
- Fernando Vega

Dining at The Witchery

“The most delectable and magical dining experience you can have in Edinburgh is at The Witchery by the Castle.”

A visitor of The Witchery.

The Witchery's connection to Edinburgh's dark past is palpable, with the building once serving as a committee chamber for clergy members and later as a rectory. The restaurant's theatrical flair, introduced by owner Thomson in 1979, breathes new life into Boswell’s Court, honouring the memory of the accused witches while providing guests with a memorable and enchanting experience.

“Our menu pays homage to time-honoured dishes, reflecting the rich history of our surroundings.”

The Witchery.

The menu showcases a bounty of Scottish delicacies, like Scotch Beef Ribeye Steaks, Lobster Thermidor, oysters, venison, eel, and fresh wild trout. Vegetarian options are also available and those with a sweet tooth will be spoilt for choice.

The Witchery and Gothic Architecture

"Outrageously gothic … this is a fabulous, shamelessly camp temple of too-muchness."

The Sunday Times.

Described as one of the seven wonders of the hotel world by Cosmopolitan, The Witchery’s architecture is a testament to Gothic grandeur. Chandeliers, statues, towering spires, intricately carved woodwork, and stained-glass windows mingle with smoky mirrors and ornate tiles, creating an atmosphere that transports guests to another era.

Each of The Witchery’s rooms, from the red and gold Gothic décor of The Vestry to the paisley-lined walls of The Sempill, complete with antique leather panelling and velvet drapes is a masterpiece. The Guardroom has views over the Old Town rooftops, marble-floored bathrooms, and a tapestry-hung bed, while other apartments like The Turret, The Library, and The Armoury continue the theme of lavish extravagance.

Guests are also treated to a chilled bottle of champagne upon arrival and a breakfast hamper in bed, along with modern amenities such as hidden TVs, wireless speakers, and Wi-Fi. However, this luxury comes with a price as suites start at £395 per night.

The Witchery 4
- David Wilkinson

Our Thoughts…

From its humble beginnings with three staff members to its current status as an Edinburgh landmark employing over 70 individuals, including a dedicated team of chefs and housekeepers, The Witchery continues to enchant visitors from near and far.

And amidst the whispers of Edinburgh's haunted past, it remains a place of excellence and intrigue, drawing the likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Will it draw you too?

The Witchery 3
- David Wilkinson

Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our Treasure Hunts in Edinburgh - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of Edinburgh.

Alternately, read more about strange, unusual and quirky places in Scotland in our blog.

The Witchery Questions