Home > The Witchery by the Castle Review
Updated: April 9, 2020
The Witchery – Sumptuous Gothic fantasy in the heart of Old Town.
Just steps away from Edinburgh Castle, this restaurant with rooms has long been a destination in its own right. There are just nine suites here, located either above the Witchery at the Castle restaurant and reachable via a spiral staircase, or tucked away in Jolie’s Close across the street. A darkly sumptuous theme prevails throughout, evident in the luxurious fabrics, heavy drapes, four-poster beds, a riot of dark wood, as well as crimson, gold, and antique furnishings. There are deep soaking tubs in the bathrooms, modern comforts such as Bose speakers and discreetly tucked away flat-screen TVs, and private dining areas for two, where guests can choose to enjoy their breakfast hampers. The celebrated restaurant is all candlelit, wooden-beamed medieval splendor, and the service is top-notch.
The Witchery – Location
- Address: 352 Castle Hill.
- Area: Super-central location on the historic Castle Hill, a pedestrianized cobbled street at the west end of the Royal Mile which is the main thoroughfare of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Castle Hill teems with visitors during the day but is very quiet at night, even though it’s just a few minutes’ walk from numerous restaurants and bars that dot the historic streets and lanes. Ideal location for sightseeing, shopping, and dining out. Central Edinburgh is hilly but it’s also compact and best explored on foot.
- How to Get There: From Edinburgh Airport, take the tram to the Princes Street stop (32 minutes) and walk for 7 minutes (0.4 mile), or take an airport shuttle (8 miles, 25 minutes) or Uber/taxi directly to the hotel. From Edinburgh Waverley train station, the hotel is a 7-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Handy to: Edinburgh Castle, The Hub, National Museum of Scotland.
The Witchery – The Basics
- Ages: This is a lodging for adults only. All the rooms come with queen or king-sized beds and are geared towards couples.
- View: Most of the rooms look out over the Royal Mile. The ones higher up have terrific views of Edinburgh Castle, Old Town rooftops, Princes Street, and the Firth of Forth beyond.
- Private Pools/Jacuzzis: No private pools or jacuzzis.
- Laundry: No laundry service.
- Parking: No parking.
- Extras: Turn-down service, complimentary bottle of champagne, cookies, and newspaper delivered to the room.
- When to Book: 100% occupancy year-round. Reserve 6 months in advance for the summer high season (May to September) as well as the Christmas/New Year period, and at least a couple of months in advance the rest of the year.
- Phone: +44 131 225 5613
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: thewitchery.com
The Witchery – Amenities
- Pool: No pool.
- Spa: No spa.
- Fitness Center: No fitness center.
- For Disabled Guests: One room potentially suitable for guests with limited mobility (only 2 steps) but not for wheelchair users.
- For Families: No family-friendly facilities.
The Witchery – Food and Drink
- Restaurants: The Witchery by the Castle (noon-11pm) serves flawless contemporary fare that makes the most of Scottish produce (Cairngorm venison, Isle of Mull scallops, Scrabster cod) in some of the city’s most atmospheric surroundings. Eat in the subtly-lit 16th-century wood-paneled dining room or in the Secret Garden. Exceptional wine list. Reservations a must for lunch and dinner. $$-$$$. On weekday afternoons (3-4.30pm), The Witchery hosts afternoon tea, complete with finger sandwiches, cakes, and scones (£30 per person); you can also go for Champagne or Rose Champagne afternoon tea (£40/£47).
- Lounge/Bar: No on-site bar. There are numerous watering holes just steps away along the Royal Mile and in the surrounding streets of Old Town.
- Breakfast: Complimentary. If you have breakfast at the restaurant, you can choose from a full Scottish breakfast, smashed avocado on toast, eggs Benedict, and other dishes cooked to order. If you breakfast in your suite, the hamper contains a generous spread of freshly baked bread, cereals, smoked meats, cheese, and fresh fruit. Served from 7-11am.
- Room Service: Breakfast may be delivered to the rooms in a hamper and each room comes with a private dining area for two. Otherwise, no formal room service but the restaurant will do their best to accommodate you if you want to take something back to your suite.
The Witchery – Rooms
- Room Types: The Vestry Suite • Sempill Suite • The Old Rectory Suite • The Library Suite • The Inner Sanctum Suite • The Heriot Suite • The Guardroom Suite • The Armoury Suite • The Turret Suite
- Smoking Rooms: The Witchery is 100% smoke-free.
- Best Room: On the second floor, the Turret Suite has exceptional views of Old Town and beyond and comes with a four-poster bed, large sitting room, Gothic bathroom with a free-standing silver bateau bath, and separate walk-in rain shower with room for two. Also on the second floor, the Guardroom Suite overlooks the Old Town rooftops. It is particularly spacious and comes with a separate wood-paneled dining area, salon-style sitting room, striking mannequins wearing guard uniforms, and a marble-floored bathroom with free-standing soaking tub.
- For Families: No family rooms.
The Witchery – Local Transport
- Walking: The Witchery is as central as can be, right at the top of the Royal Mile, steps away from Edinburgh Castle and The Hub, and within walking distance of the vast majority of Edinburgh’s attractions. The National Museum of Scotland is a 7-minute stroll (0.4 mile), while the Scottish Parliament (0.8 mile, 14-minute walk) and Palace of Holyroodhouse (1 mile, 17-minute walk) are both walkable down the Royal Mile. Old Town is full of dining and drinking options as well.
- Bus: From various bus stops along Princes Street (0.3 mile, 7-minute walk) you can catch buses 22, 35, and 36 to Ocean Terminal for the Royal Yacht Britannia. To get to Arthur’s Seat, take one of the numerous buses south along South Bridge Road from South Bridge stop (0.4 mile, 7-minute walk), including 7, 14, 8, 29 and 37. You have to have exact fare or else buy a day ticket for Lothian buses (£4) or a bus and tram combo ticket (£9).
- Tram: The nearest tram stop is Princes Street, a 7-minute walk (0.4 mile) away.
- Taxis, Uber: Taxis charge around £20 from the airport to the hotel while Uber charges around £15.
The Witchery – What’s Nearby?
Recommended Nearby Tours
- Invisible Edinburgh – Themed walking tours with homeless people trained as guides. Choose between the likes of Powerful Women (JK Rowling, Maggie Dickson, etc.), Crime & Punishment, and more. Book in advance. Start location: Depends on tour.
- The Cadies & Witchery Tours – Entertaining ‘Murder & Mystery’ tours of Old Town conducted by the becloaked Adam Lyal. Expect costumed actors to jump out at you from dark corners off the Royal Mile. Start location: The Witchery Restaurant.
- City of the Dead Tours – Spooky nightly tours of Greyfriars Kirkyard, complete with ghostly encounters. The ‘Mackenzie Poltergeist’, a 17th-century ghost of a judge, allegedly haunts the prison in the corner of the graveyard. Depart at 9pm Easter-October; at 8.30pm rest of the year. Start location: “Tree of the Dead” outside St Giles’ Cathedral (0.2 mile, 3-minute walk).
- Mercat Tours – Good range of history walks. Their ‘Ghosts & Ghouls’ tour takes you to the underground vaults beneath South Bridge. Tours start at the Mercat Cross on the Royal Mile. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- The Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour – Fantastic 2-hour walking tour that takes in pubs associated with Edinburgh’s literary history. Meet at the Beehive Inn on Grassmarket. 5-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Trainspotting Tours – Witty, engaging tour of locations from the 1993 Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting and its 1996 movie adaptation. Adults only. Meet at Docker’s Club in Leith. 20 minutes (2 miles) by public transport.
Best Nearby Restaurants
- Amber – This whisky-themed restaurant inside The Scotch Whisky Experience pairs quality single malts with refined takes on classic Scottish dishes. Buzzy and popular with groups. Book ahead. 1-minute walk (15m).
- Contini Cannonball – Inside the historic Cannonball House, this is a sleek, modern restaurant that serves great Scottish food like ‘cannonballs’ of haggis with whisky sauce, Highland beef, smoked salmon, and creamy Cullen skink (smoked haddock soup). The service is friendly and efficient and you’re just steps from Edinburgh Castle. 1-minute walk (75m).
- Maxie’s Bistro – Dependable menu of stir-fries, steaks, pasta, and other crowd-pleasers. Grab a table on the terrace outside or dine in the candlelit interior. 1-minute walk (100m).
- Grain Store – Braised venison shoulder and Orkney scallops with pancetta are among the many elegant Scottish dishes at this atmospheric dining room. Advance booking recommended. 2-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Scotts Kitchen – Quality Scottish dishes made from local produce in elegant surroundings. Go for a full Scottish breakfast or lunchtimes specials such as haggis and Cullen skink (smoked haddock soup). 3-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Makar’s Gourmet Mash Bar – This informal restaurant combines industrial decor with mostly potato-based comfort food. Fill your belly with rosti fritter stacks topped with pulled pork, smoked sausage, char-grilled aubergine, and more, or opt for more substantial haggis with turnip puree or black pudding mash. Cheap and cheerful. 3-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Angels With Bagpipes – One of Edinburgh’s fine dining highlights in an atmospheric 17th-century building. Creative, beautifully-presented dishes crafted from seasonal ingredients. The 2-course lunch is a steal at £17.50 and it’s well worth splurging on the 4-course tasting menu (£45) that might include sea trout with fennel and rhubarb and duck egg custard with rose hip. Reserve ahead. 3-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Ondine – Sustainably sourced fish and seafood are on offer at one of Edinburgh’s best seafood restaurant. Slurp your oysters at the Oyster Bar or go for some superlative fish and chips or lobster thermidore. Book ahead. 3-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Devil’s Advocate – Follow the narrow closes (alleys) off the Royal Mile to this converted Victorian pump house for some of the best barbecue in town. 5-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Tower – In a turret atop the National Museum of Scotland, this restaurant serves ingredient-driven Modern Scottish dishes such as oysters and game in chic, light-filled surroundings. Also a great place for afternoon tea (2-6pm). Advance reservations recommended. 6-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Checkpoint – Floor-to-ceiling windows, reclaimed schoolroom furnishings, and an unpretentious menu of well-executed comfort food and excellent cocktails make Checkpoint a firm local favorite. (It’s also been rated one of Britain’s 25 coolest restaurants by The Times.) Dinner reservations a good idea. 7-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Wedgwood – Foraged greens and imaginative pairings of Scottish ingredients result in the likes of spiced monkfish with preserved lemon and beef tartare with bone marrow at this refined fine dining venue. Unpretentious, laidback ambience. Reserve ahead. 9-minute walk (0.5 mile).
- Mother India’s Cafe – The concept of Indian street food served in tapas-sized portions was originally pioneered in Glasgow and has made this Edinburgh branch an instant hit. Popular with families and groups; book ahead. 9-minute walk (0.5 mile).
Best Nearby Cafes
- Edinburgh Larder – A solid local favorite for full Scottish breakfasts with sausages, black pudding, and bacon from local butchers, as well as homemade granola, gluten-free brownies, specialty coffee sourced from small producers around the world, locally blended teas from Eteaket, and more. Soups, salads, and sandwiches served till mid-afternoon. Communal tables encourage socializing. 7-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Mums – Ye olde café with retro decor and British and Scottish comfort food on the menu. Come here for fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and full Scottish breakfasts, with ingredients sourced from the best of local produce and a good range of Scottish craft beers. 7-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Brew Lab – One of the best specialty coffee shops in town, with single origin beans carefully sourced from small producers worldwide. Really good cakes and baguette sandwiches also. 10-minute walk (0.5 mile).
Best Nearby Bars and Pubs
- Jolly Judge – Low-ceilinged, timber-beamed 17th-century pub. Decent ales and convivial atmosphere; perfect for a conversation by the fire. 2-minute walk (150m).
- The Bow Bar – Huge selection of single malt whiskies, Scottish craft gins, and real ales inside a traditional-style pub. Gets very busy on weekends. 3-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Cabaret Voltaire – ‘Alternative’ club, home to eclectic mix of DJ sets, standup comedy, theater, visual arts, live music, and more. 7-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Sandy Bell’s – This locally-beloved place had been around since the 1960s and is terrific to catch a traditional Scottish music performance on weekday evenings at 9pm or on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. 7-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Brewdog – The Cowmarket branch of the hugely popular Scottish craft beer empire that’s always experimenting and offering new creations. Their Punk AF IPA and Vagabond Pale are justifiably popular, or you can opt for their new range of OverWorks Wild and Sour beers. 7-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Dragonfly – Stylish cocktail bar combining oriental art, crystal chandeliers, and 20s-style decor with original cocktails (try the AppleOfM’Aye). Popular with the local glitterati so dress up. DJ sets on weekends. 8-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Bannerman’s – Grungy live music institution popular with local students and backpackers, with almost nightly performances by indie, rock, and punk bands. 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Salt Horse Beer Shop & Bar – Choose from more than 400 beers at the shop or sample the 12 keg brews, alongside cheese and charcuterie platters, Scotch eggs, burgers, and other quality beer snacks. One for true beer buffs. 8-minute walk (0.5 mile).
- Innis & Gunn Beer Kitchen – Lothian Road branch of a popular Scottish craft beer outlet. The Gunpowder IPA, Bourbon Barrel Scotch ale, and Blood Red Sky stand out. Guest beers from all over the world, plus hearty, meaty dishes to accompany them – beef chilli, Scotch eggs, burgers, and steaks. 10-minute walk (0.5 mile).
Nearby Shopping and Cool Shops
- Harris Tweed Hebrides – Come here for the famous hand-woven woolen fabrics produced in the Outer Hebrides for over a century. 1-minute walk (100m).
- Walker Slater – Specialist in contemporary wool for the gentleman and the lady, with stylish, ready-to-wear tweed jackets, skirts, suits, and trousers. Carefully chosen accessories include hats, belts, and hip flasks. 2-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- The Great Wizard – All the Harry Potter memorabilia that you could hope for, on nearby Victoria Street. (JK Rowling is one of Edinburgh’s most famous daughters.) 2-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Royal Mile Whiskies – One of the best whisky shops on the Royal Mile, with a vast selection of single malts and blended whiskies, both in full-size bottles and miniatures. Also sells bourbon and Irish whiskey. 3-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- W. Armstrong & Son – Going strong since 1840, this vintage clothing store sells everything from pre-loved kilts and Harris tweed to 1940s dresses and 1970s flares. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Bill Baber – In the same family for 3 generations, this designer knitwear store is great for merino wool creations as well as linen and silk items. 4-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- Fringe Shop – Been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival? Come here for a range of festival keepsakes, from hoodies, KeepCups, and bamboo t-shirts to vintage canvas bags and the limited edition of Edinburgh-themed Monopoly. 5-minute walk (0.3 mile).
- Geoffrey Tailor – Sells kilts in every clan tartan imaginable (and can procure any rare ones), and can kit you out in traditional Highland threads. 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Ragamuffin – One of the best outlets in Old Town for Harris tweed, Scottish knitwear, and cashmere sweaters by Johnsons of Elgin. 8-minute walk (0.5 mile).
- Edinburgh Book Quarter – Lying between West Port and Bread Street, Edinburgh’s ‘Soho’ is great for specialty bookstores. Main Point specializes in titles on mountaineering, paperback fiction, and philosophy. Peter Bell Books is a must for Scottish history, military, and maps. Edinburgh Books has the largest collection of second-hand books in the city. 9-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Kilberry Bagpipes – This one-stop shop sells all things bagpipe, from the pipes themselves to maintenance kits, learning packs, and carry cases. So if you’ve been inspired by some of the street musicians, here’s your chance to pick up some pipes of your own. 9-minute walk (0.5 mile).
- Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop – In the Cannongate, this is one of the last surviving independent bottlers in the city to buy single malts straight from the cask and whiskies from small, independent distilleries. They sell the good stuff in small, travel-friendly bottles, too. 11-minute walk (0.6 mile).
Most of these attractions are located directly on or right near the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s famous historic street that bisects Old Town and runs from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
- The Scotch Whisky Experience – Walk your way through this entertaining multimedia center that showcases the creation of whisky, from barley to distillation to bottle. All your senses are engaged here and you can also check out the world’s largest collection of malt whiskies. Depending on the tour option, you may get to sample a number of whiskies paired with Scottish nibbles. 1-minute walk (25m).
- Edinburgh Castle – Perched on the crag of Castle Rock, this historic fortress and former royal residence dominates the Edinburgh skyline. It’s the city’s atmospheric, heavyweight attraction, where you can see the Honours of Scotland (Scottish Crown Jewels), the bed-chamber where Mary, Queen of Scots, gave birth to her son who’d unite the English and Scottish crowns, the National War Museum of Scotland, the prisons inside the Castle Vaults, and the One o’Clock Gun, a WWII Goliath that’s fired at 1pm daily. The views of the city from the battlements are tremendous. 1-minute walk (75m).
- Writers’ Museum – Take the close (alleyway) that connects the Royal Mile with the Mound to visit this literary museum inside the 1622 Lady Stair’s House. Here you can immerse yourself in manuscripts and memorabilia of Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Burns, three of Scotland’s most famous writers. 2-minute walk (0.1 mile).
- Real Mary King’s Close – Preserved unchanged for the past 250 years, the lower levels of this medieval lane make for a fascinating, eerie labyrinth that visitors explore with the aid of costumed guides. Ghost stories make up a large chunk of the tour and some of them are genuinely creepy, given the setting. Check out the dolls and teddy bears left by visitors for the ghost of a little girl called Annie. 3-minute walk (0.2 mile).
- National Museum of Scotland – Spread across 2 buildings – a contemporary and a Victorian one – this terrific museum is a stampede through the history of Scotland, presented using an engaging variety of media highlighting the period from the earliest prehistoric signs of humanity until the 1990s. There are occasional themed exhibitions too, while the older building is home to displays on the decorative arts of China, the Islamic world, Japan, and the West, as well as design and fashion, science and technology, and natural history. The onsite restaurant – Tower – is one of the city’s best. 7-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Museum of Childhood – Take your kids here to explore the huge collection of dolls, toys, games, and books through the ages. There are engaging exhibitions on various issues related to childhood – education, health and upbringing – as well as digital footage of kids playing street games in the city in the 1950s. 7-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Museum of Edinburgh – The exhibitions inside this bright yellow and red 16th-century building tell the story of the city from prehistory to modern times through a series of entertaining exhibits. Look out for the dog feeding bowl and collar that belonged to Greyfriars Bobby, a Sky terrier who maintained vigil over his master’s grave from 1858 to 1872, plus items of national importance such as a copy of the National Covenant of 1638. 12-minute walk (0.7 mile).
- Scottish Parliament Building – Designed by Catalan architect Enric Miralles, the seat of Scottish government divides opinion. There are a lot of symbolic elements to the concrete creation: from the asymmetrical panels on the front of the buildings representing a curtain being opened (and symbolizing open government) to the journey from the dimly-lit concrete cavern of the entrance hall to the magnificent Debating Chamber, flooded with light. Check the website if you want to see parliament in session. 14-minute walk (0.8 mile).
- Palace of Holyroodhouse – The official residence of Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland, this stone castle was founded in 1128 as a monastery and grew around a guesthouse attached to the abbey. Self-guided tours lead you through the opulent royal apartments, including the bedchamber of Mary, Queen of Scots, where she watched the murder of her favorite secretary – David Rizzio – by the henchmen of her jealous second husband. Other highlights include the 89 portraits of Scottish kings in the Great Gallery, the ruins of the Holyrood Abbey, and the stunning Queen’s Gallery where changing art exhibitions are held every 6 months. 17-minute walk (1 mile).
- Holyrood Park (for Arthur’s Seat) – This vast green space, crowned with the rocky peak of Arthur’s Seat (251m), starts right near the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The hike from the palace to the top takes around 45 minutes (2 miles) and you’re rewarded with tremendous views of the city from up there. It’s a favorite place for outdoorsy locals. 17-minute walk (1 mile).
Nearby Markets or Grocery Stores
- Edinburgh Farmers’ Market – This award-winning fresh produce market takes place year-round from 10am to 2pm on Saturdays in the shadow of the castle ramparts. Come here for organic meats, beer, chutneys, and other preserves, plus seasonal fruit and vegetables. 8-minute walk (0.4 mile).
- Old Tolbooth Market – A new addition to the Edinburgh market scene, the Tolbooth is open from 11am daily, just off the Royal Mile, and is a good place to browse craft and food stalls and have a coffee or beer as well. 11-minute walk (0.6 mile).
- Castle Street Fairs – Pedestrianized Castle Street which branches off Princes Street, hosts several craft and food markets throughout the year, from the Easter Fair, Spring Fair, and Summer Fair to the Jazz Festival Fair in July. 11-minute walk (0.6 mile).
The Witchery – The Hotel
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