Location: Castles, gothic monuments and Scottish history
Perfect for: Decadence and romance
The Witchery by the Castle is a world class luxury hotel in Edinburgh with a fascinating history. Originally built in the 16th century, it was once the execution spot for hundreds of witches during the reign of James VI. Today, there’s not a witch in sight. Instead, it’s just pure indulgence. All the rooms are suites, and in each you’ll find champagne waiting for you on ice, opulent but tasteful decor, and thoughtful personal touches, like hand-written welcome notes. Candle-lit dinner in the carved panel restaurant is a must. Located in the heart of Edinburgh (literally at the foot of Edinburgh Castle), a stay here is one you will never, ever forget…
Heaving our suitcases uphill from Edinburgh Waverley station, cursing our decision not to take a cab, we’re grumpy messieurs when we reach the famous Royal Mile. Fortunately our destination for the night is right in front of us – a beautiful gilded sign announces that we’ve arrived at famous restaurant-with-rooms The Witchery.
A warm welcome awaits at reception, down a traditional cobbled close. Our bags are whisked away so discreetly we don’t even notice!
As we’re taken up a rather spooky stone staircase, we’re told how The Witchery got its name – built in the sixteenth century, it’s where hundreds of witches were executed during the reign of James VI! It’s gruesome, but few places have such a fascinating history.
Our suite, The Old Rectory, is amazing – a majestic medley of deep red and gold, with grand gothic furniture and antiques and an ornate bed strewn with plump velvet cushions.
There are seating areas perfect for lounging, but why would we – we have an additional sitting room! Monsieur 2 collapses dramatically on its day-bed, and spies our bathroom.
It has a stunning fresco ceiling, metal bateau bath and a concealed black marble shower room. It’s one of the most spectacular suites we’ve ever seen.
In no hurry to be anywhere we pop open the complimentary champagne that’s waiting on ice. As we sip our bubbly we watch the bustling Royal Mile below and browse tonight’s menu.
Fizz finished we set out sightseeing. We’re right next door to the famous castle so start there, roaming the ramparts and taking in the view. Then we stroll downhill to the National Gallery where we’re so captivated by the masterpieces on the walls that we nearly walk straight past Canova’s Three Graces!
We’ve worked up a thirst, and as The Witchery doesn’t have a bar we head to the popular Maggie Dickson’s pub. A pint of local beer restores us for the return journey.
Back in the suite we change for dinner and Monsieur 2 is beyond impressed that as well as all the usual gadgetry, there’s a pair of GHD straighteners to tame his lustrous Liberace locks!
We descend for dinner and see the spectacular restaurant for the first time. Finely-carved panels line the walls, candlelit tables are dressed in starched white cloths, and silver tableware gleams. It’s grand but intimate – we love it.
We order and sit back in our leather chairs, enjoying delicious bread while waiting for our starters. Monsieur 2 pays tribute to our Scottish surroundings with haggis, blended deliciously with chicken mousse. I choose Msr 2’s usual staple, a steak, only this time it’s steak tartare. And it is wonderful, using prime Borders beef and perfectly spiced.
For main courses I try one of the international dishes, slow-cooked monkfish in an aromatic broth. It’s fantastic, the tang of pickled ginger contrasting with earthy shitake mushrooms. Monsieur 2 is just as happy with ‘Three Little Pigs’ – pork cutlet, roast belly, black pudding-stuffed trotter and grilled bacon, the most elegant meat-feast imaginable!
Portions are generous to say the least so we share an enormous crème brulee; it’s sweet and luxuriously creamy, a lovely end to the meal. Attentive service has made us feel like royalty and special mention must also go to the extraordinary wine-list – we’ve enjoyed our vanilla-rich Rioja.
Back in our room we see that the table’s been set for breakfast – we know that we’ll be having a hamper delivered in the morning! Tempting as it is to go out, the room’s so stunning that we decide to make the most of it, choosing a DVD from the in-room library and settling back to watch it on the huge concealed TV.
Our bed is such a whopper we have to climb up onto it, like something in a fairy tale! The bedclothes are gorgeously soft and we’re soon dozing off…
There’s a knock at the door on the dot of our requested time and our breakfast hamper’s brought in. It’s a gorgeous selection – hot, freshly baked patisseries, fresh fruit, yoghurts and charcuterie. With tea in silver pots we’ve everything we need to set us up for the day and enjoy it at a leisurely pace.
The drench shower in the bathroom is wonderfully invigorating, as is the gorgeous Penhaligon’s shower gel. Thick fluffy towels get brownie points too.
Check-out is a generous twelve noon so we’ve plenty of time for our morning activity – shopping. We’ve been told that Edinburgh’s great for it and we’re not disappointed; Monsieur 2 has a homing device that can seek out a Harvey Nichols blind-folded and soon finds Edinburgh’s.
Back at The Witchery we reluctantly check out, buying a couple of bars of their home-made chocolate as a memento – not that this is a stay we’ll forget. The levels of luxury and service, the fabulous food, the decadence of the décor and its fascinating history make this a very special place. We hate to leave, but one thing’s for sure – we can’t wait to come back.
Don’t forget to mention les Deux Messieurs when you book, or ask us to book for you.Not what you’re looking for. Discover other amazing UK cultural destinations and city breaks here
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