James Thomson’s The Witchery by the Castle is the most spectacularly atmospheric dining destination in Edinburgh. Now in our 5th decade the stunning décor, legendary food and award-winning wine list have ensured the Witchery by the Castle has become a much loved Edinburgh institution.
Dine in the rich baroque surroundings of the original oak-panelled Original dining room or among the elegant candle-lit charms of the Secret Garden dining room.
There are also 9 theatrical suites – perfect for those looking to stay in the most indulgent settings. Lavishly decorated, our suites scream romance with a capital R! Whether you stay or dine The Witchery is an unforgettably magical experience.
The Witchery by the Castle was established by James Thomson in a historic building at the gates of Edinburgh Castle.
At the historic heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, the Witchery, now in our fifth decade, takes its name from the hundreds of women and men burned at the stake as witches on Castlehill during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
It is reputed that more witches were put to death on Castlehill during the reign of James VI than anywhere else in Scotland. The area around the Witchery by the Castle remains steeped in history.
The Witchery occupies a substantial sixteenth Century building, Boswell’s Court, named after a former resident, James Boswell, the uncle of Dr Johnson’s biographer.
It has been in continuous occupation for over four centuries, latterly as committee rooms for the Church of Scotland and as the Rectory of a nearby church.
Castlehill has always been at the very centre of Scottish history; The Palace of Mary de Guise, mother of Mary Queen of Scots, stood on the opposite side of the street, a site since home to the Scottish Parliament and adjacent to some of the Witchery’s luxurious suites in historic Sempill’s Court.
Built in 1595 for merchant Thomas Lowthian, the candlelit Witchery is entered from a traditional close off the Royal Mile. The original carved inscription on the doorway bears his initials and motto ‘O Lord in thee is all my traist’ can still be read.
Nearby the ancient stone doorway built into the tower of the Secret Garden features the arms of the Duke of Gordon, Keeper of the Keys to Edinburgh Castle.
In the Witchery heraldic painted and gilded ceilings, based on those at the Palace of Holyrood house, reflect the close links of the Auld Alliance between France and Scotland.
The tapestry-hung walls are panelled with seventeenth century oak rescued from a fire at St Giles Cathedral and panelling is from a Burgundian Chateau. Gilded leather screens, opulent red leather upholstery, tapestries, and antique church candlesticks complete the scene.
In 1990 James opened a second restaurant, the Secret Garden, on an abandoned schoolyard located next to the original Witchery dining room. This enchanting room is entered via a stone staircase from the courtyard above and looks onto a hidden, topiary and urn filled terrace, where guests can dine in the summer.
The splendid painted ceiling is in typical Scots vernacular style and was inspired by the famous Rossend Castle ceiling now in the National Museum of Scotland. It portrays imagery from the tarot, and the mischievous bagpipe-playing cherub features among other angels with bagpipes that feature at the Witchery.
The series of painted doors and panels portray elements of Edinburgh’s ancient wine trade with France, a tradition we continue with a cellar running to 900 bins that holds a rare Wine Spectator Best Award of Excellence among its many other accolades.
The Witchery is also home to just nine, uniquely luxurious and fabulously theatrical suites for those looking for more Witchery magic than just dining can provide.
Located above the Witchery and in the adjacent seventeenth-century Jollies Close, they are frequently featured in magazines as one of the world’s most romantic destinations.
Described as one of the seven wonders of the hotel world by Cosmopolitan, filled with antiques, lavish interiors, opulently draped beds and roll-top baths for two, they are truly indulgent.
The Witchery by the Castle has just nine fabulously original and indulgent suites, described as one of the seven wonders of the hotel world by Cosmopolitan magazine.
Each has its own unique quirks and charms but, whichever suite you choose, you’ll find oodles of glamour, indulgence, luxury and roll top baths for two! The Witchery Suites occupy just 2 guests in double beds and are not suitable for children.
Named to reflect the historic stone turret staircase that forms the suite’s entrance, the third floor Turret offers exceptional views of Old Town rooftops, to Princes Street and over the Firth of Forth to Fife and beyond.
From its tapestry-lined entrance and collection of stag’s antlers, to the oak-panelled bathroom, the Turret offers all of the drama, romance and magic that our guests expect of a Witchery Suite.
Book and you’ll find a large sitting-room panelled in lacquer red leather panels, and even larger bedroom with a superking-sized, lavishly draped bed. Double doors lead to a bathroom with Gothic oak panelling, a free-standing silver bateau bath in the centre of the room and a separate walk-in shower room for two.
Named after the founder of the nearby George Heriot’s school, this second floor suite looks south over the Old Town towards the glorious 17th-century building that is Heriot’s today. It is easy to understand why it is thought to have inspired Hogwarts!
Entered from a dramatic black and gold hallway, the Heriot’s sitting room is panelled with ancient oak panels from St Giles’ Cathedral and has walls hung with tapestry. Striking antler furniture features in the breakfast area.
A sumptuous four-poster bed, complete with huge gothic headboard, is lavishly draped with embroidered green and gold velvet hangings. Off of the bedroom is a walk-in dressing room with dressing table and masses of wardrobe space.
The gothic chapel-like bathroom is a final hidden delight. The Heriot’s bathroom features a free-standing roll-top bath, dramatic painted ceiling and gilded and mirrored gothic panelling.
THE OLD RECTORY
This very large and theatrically decorated second floor suite overlooks the Royal Mile from seven windows and has views over the coast to Fife. It is reached via a winding stone turnpike stair dating from 1595.
The dramatically red bedroom has a huge Gothic bed and several seating areas and there is an adjacent sitting room with a large Empire-style day bed and a quirky collection of gothic artefacts.
The bathroom, with red and gilt leather walls, a polished silver bateau bath, twin sinks and separate black marble shower room was previously James Thomson’s study and is the Witchery’s largest and most sumptuous bathroom.
DINE IN SCOTLAND’S MOST FAMOUS RESTAURANT
Situated in a collection of historic buildings at the gates to Edinburgh Castle, The Witchery is open all day from noon until 10.30pm (last reservation).
Choose from the 16th-century oak-panelled and candlelit Original dining room or the elegant Secret Garden dining room with its hand-painted ceiling and secluded terrace for dining or cocktails.
An award-winning a la carte menu is served all day. Alongside the Scottish lobster, langoustines, beef, lamb and game, you’ll also see the Witchery’s legendary Angus beef steak tartare and even some haggis.
Head Chef Douglas Roberts and his team of passionate foodies create seasonal menus, serving the very finest Scottish ingredients including Scottish game from Perthshire, the finest Scottish beef from the Borders and the freshest seafood from the clear waters of the West Coast, along with using an array of local artisan suppliers.
Reflecting our historic setting expect menus featuring classic dishes such as Omelette Arnold Bennet and Lobster Thermidor to name a few. Whether Lunch or Dinner you’ll find menus to delight from 12noon to 10.30pm seven days a week. An allergen menu is available on request.
The Witchery has developed over four decades an internationally renowned reputation for its wines, winning virtually every award going and gaining a reputation as one of the world’s finest restaurant cellars.
Located in a sixteenth-century merchant’s house, the rich baroque surroundings of the Witchery’s Original dining room offers one of the city’s most exceptional and memorable dining destinations.
Dine on red leather seats, surrounded by ancient oak panelling hung with tapestries. Heraldic painted ceilings recalling the Auld Alliance and Edinburgh’s Royal past are reflected in the candlelight of dozens of antique candlesticks, whilst historic stone walls remind of the building’s four hundred years of history.
THE SECRET GARDEN
Lit almost entirely by candlelight, the elegant charms of the Secret Garden dining room are one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Hidden down a historic Old Town close, this now-enclosed historic courtyard is the most magical of restaurants.
Enter via the pulpit reception and as you descend the stone stairs the room reveals two great surprises – a fabulous hand-painted ceiling and French windows opening onto its own secluded terrace, perfect for cocktails before your meal (weather permitting!).
The room is filled with ancient oak, stone and tapestries, creating the most memorable setting for any dining occasion.
THE AFTERNOON TEA
The Witchery’s Afternoon Tea is served in both the sumptuous and light Secret Garden dining room as well as our decadent baroque candlelit Original dining room. Whichever room you choose, you can expect delicious sandwiches and cakes piled high on silver cake stands.
Our pastry team work hard each day to create inspired sandwich fillings including, Edinburgh Gin cured salmon with dill creme fraiche on rye bread and brioche bun with egg and cress.
There’s plenty of sweet treats too with freshly baked scones, dragon cake and rich chocolate tarts to name a few. All served with your choice of specially selected loose leaf tea.
WEDDINGS & CELEBRATIONS
Where could be more perfect for a wedding or celebration than the historic charms of the Witchery close to Edinburgh Castle?
You’ll find some of Scotland’s most famous wedding venues nearby including the historic Cannongate Kirk. Greyfriars Kirk, St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh’s Registry Office are also just moments away.
Whether you choose the richly atmospheric setting of the Original dining room or the elegance of the Secret Garden dining room and its private terrace, you’ll have chosen the perfect Scottish wedding venue.
Both are already stunning, but you can dress and style each room with flowers to suit your look and we can put you in touch with the best florists in Scotland.
Choose your menus from some of the best Scottish produce around and have Champagne, drinks and wines from an award-winning cellar. With 9 exceptionally indulgent and romantic suites available for you to stay either before or after your wedding, you may never want to leave!
Both the Original oak-panelled dining room and the Secret Garden dining room, with its delightful private terrace, are unique and memorable venues for private dining and celebrations in the historic heart of Edinburgh.
Close to Edinburgh castle, the Witchery’s unique location and legendary food have ensured it has become an Edinburgh dining institution, much-loved by its loyal locals, celebrity fans and visitors to the city.
For over three decades the Witchery has been renowned as the Edinburgh restaurant for those looking to experience exceptional food Scottish food, wine and service in the most magical setting.
Private dining in both the Original dining room or the Secret Garden dining room is on an exclusive-use basis, allowing your guests to enjoy the Witchery’s magical atmosphere undisturbed.
You can choose your menu from some of the finest produce available in Scotland and our skilled sommeliers will help you choose wines, Champagnes and drinks from a cellar packing with hundreds of delights.
Whether your event is corporate event or a private celebration, a breakfast, lunch or dinner, the Witchery provides the perfect venue for groups of up to 40 guests in the Original dining room and the Secret Garden dining room 50 guests.