Stay at the Witchery by the Castle
How Good Is This Unusual Luxury Bed And Breakfast in Edinburgh?
Are you considering a stay at the Witchery by the Castle in Edinburgh? It's a tempting choice as the Witchery is the most unique hotel in Edinburgh (or restaurant-with-rooms/luxury bed and breakfast, to be more precise), one where the tremendous historical character given by its proximity to Edinburgh Castle and the nearby stake used to burn witches in medieval times (where the Witchery takes its name from) meets gothic opulence and a sensual, decadent decor.
Is it a better choice than other four or five stars hotels in the city centre, though? And more importantly, is it what you would expect of an unusual, highly romantic hotel?
I've read hundreds of reviews from guests who have stayed at the Witchery by the Castle over the years and the following is a clear and unbiased summary of what these guests really thought of their stay at this hotel.
What's special about the Witchery by the Castle?
- It's without a doubt one of the most unusual luxury hotels in the world, and singularly famous in Edinburgh. According to some, it's the ultimate boutique bed and breakfast experience.
- Uniquely gothic atmosphere and luxurious, over-the-top decor in all of its seven individually designed suites.
- Two famous restaurants, The Witchery and The Secret Garden, both abundantly atmospheric and romantic.
- Location: Excellent central location, the Witchery suites occupy a medieval building virtually next to Edinburgh Castle, in the heart of the Old Town.
Read discounted room rates.
What do guests really think?
The reviews of the Witchery by the Castle by guests fall into two categories: reviews of the dining experience and reviews of the accommodation. The accommodation reviews describe a consistently positive and unforgettable experience while the restaurant reviews are more mixed with the majority describing a good, if somewhat disappointing experience. The overwhelming majority of reviews suggests that:
- The Witchery by the Castle offers a truly unusual hotel experience centered around the lavish, extravagant and contemporary gothic decor and layout with the majority of guests using words like opulence, amazing, indulgent and darkly decadent to describe it.
- It is a perfect hotel for a special occasion or a romantic break with the rooms described as sensual and sexy in virtually every other review. In fact, it's often described as the one of the most romantic hotels in Edinburgh alongside Prestonfield House Hotel by the same owner.
- Most guests feel that staying at the Witchery is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is to be remembered forever and it is precisely its unique wow factor that makes it good value for money, rather than the amenities usually expected from most 5-star luxury hotels.
Based on the hundreds of reviews I've read, I would recommend staying at The Witchery by the Castle if you're looking for an extremely unusual and sensual hotel/bed and breakfast experience with an unforgettable, totally unique ambiance. You might, however, consider not dining at the Witchery restaurant as that can be a hit and miss and it could possibly ruin an otherwise funky and exciting experience.
In Depth Review of the Witchery by the Castle in Edinburgh
Unusual luxury bed and breakfast. Gothic and darkly decadent decor.
Next to Edinburgh Castle. Average room price per night: £295 ($500)
What is the Witchery Hotel like?
The Witchery by the Castle started life as a themed fine-dining restaurant with two suites in a medieval building on Castlehill, a stone's throw from Edinburgh Castle. The restaurant is seemingly blended in with the other 16th century sky-scrapers. Today, the Witchery restaurant has 7 individually themed suites which make you feel like you're living in a different century or in someone's private castle, but in Edinburgh City Centre! This is what most guests have to report about their stay at the Witchery:
Building and room design
- The Witchery has 7 uniquely decorated suites (Vestry, Library, Inner Sanctum, Old Rectory, Sempill, Guardroom and Armoury) featuring quirky furniture and furnishings, velvets in deep reds and golds, walls decorated with bold, classic colors and Victorian patterns, lots of antiques and mood-enhancing lighting, all geared towards an over-the-top gothic and extravagant look. However, some guests do find the style too overwhelming and somewhat tired.
- The overwhelming theatrical style of the rooms means there are countless nooks and crannies to explore, many guests taking a good hour just to examine all the hidden delights and the secrecy of the suites, from the bedroom to the bathroom. The original layout and design of the rooms means that some guests will find certain aspects impractical and not very straight-forward.
- The original two suites are located above the restaurant while the other five are located in a medieval building across the street. The layout of the accommodation, unlike the usual 5-star luxury hotels, means that you have lots of privacy and little interaction with staff and other guests as public lounges and bars are nonexistent.
- The ultra-central location and age of the building means that it's impossible to sound-proof the suites so there is the potential for noise from the street outside and from the suites above.
- The location of the Witchery by the Castle in the heart of the Old Town among other tall medieval buildings means that there is no proper view from any of the windows, except for those which overlook the Royal Mile.
Staff and level of service
- Not being your usual luxury hotel, the Witchery has no room service although the continental breakfast included in the room rate is delivered to your suite.
- The reception staff often don't attract any comments from guests, either positive or negative. Roxy, however, the guy in charge with showing guests to their room, is remembered as fondly by everyone who mentioned him as the hotel itself.
- However, when it comes to the restaurant staff, many guests describe them as friendly enough, if slightly distant, with some saying they're definitely not what you'd expect from a fine-dining restaurant.
Food and drink
- The breakfast included in the room rate is continental (and delivered in a hamper to your room) and while substantial and filling, according to most guests, there is no option for hot food. A hot breakfast is available in the restaurant, though.
- There are two restaurants, The Witchery and the Secret Garden, both very small, with only about a dozen tables but both are considered in most reviews to be fantastic, highly romantic and atmospheric venues.
- The vast majority of guests, however, felt that the quality of food, size of the portions and service don't match the standard and expectations set by the venue. The food is often considered to be good, but not excellent, often over-priced and not good value for money. The general opinion seems to be that you're paying most of all for the fantastic ambiance and experience of dining at the famous Witchery rather than the food.
- There are guests who are completely happy with both the service and the quality of food but they appear to be the exception rather than the rule.
- Most guests agree that the wine list is impressive, though.
- An often recommended option is to go to the Witchery restaurant for lunch, rather than dinner, in order to experience the ambiance.
Location and parking
- The Witchery by the Castle hotel does not have its own car park, being located immediately below Edinburgh Castle where space is always a premium.
- You are allowed to unload your luggage outside your suite but you are left to then park the car in Castle Terrace. Castle Terrace is a short walk or cab drive back to the Witchery.
- Chocolates and chilled champagne on arrival.
- Many of the amenities expected in luxury hotels do exist, but there is no spacious reception area, lounges, bars or business or leisure facilities.
Staying at the Witchery Hotel, Edinburgh - Web links
- The Witchery, Castlehill, Edinburgh - TimesOnline.co.uk