Edinburgh, Scotland, is a city with an amazing mix of bustling modern-day business and the rich course of history flowing throughout its cobbled streets. Truly, it’s one of my family’s favorite cities in the world and The Royal Mile in Edinburgh is its touristic high point. It leads from Holyrood Abbey up to, at its top (Castle Rock), Edinburgh Castle. The beginning of a vacation in Scotland could be well spent with a couple days exploring The Royal Mile in Edinburgh. One particularly luxurious bed and breakfast near Edinburgh Castle is the Witchery B&B. The building itself is historic (built in the sixteenth century!) and set back a bit from the street; staying at the Witchery feels like stepping back in time. It is completely true to old Scotland, with antiques throughout, and only nine bedroom suites; this lends a sense of privacy and elitism to a stay here.
The Witchery B&B in Edinburgh, Scotland — Suites
The Guardroom: My husband and I stayed in this suite. It reflects the military aspects of the old guard, with antique books about the Scottish regimental forces, Gentlemen-At-Arms, and other books dating back to the eighteenth century. It’s at the back of the top floor, so there is a bit of a trek up the old winding staircase – but no sounds of footsteps overhead, either. The Guardroom is one of two suites in this part of The Witchery building.
The Vestry: Unlike The Guardroom, The Vestry is one of the rooms across the street (The Royal Mile) from the main building of the Witchery B&B in Edinburgh, Scotland. This bedroom suite is the most sweepingly gothic in style, with (as the name implies) religious icons of the 1700s and 1800s decorating the bedroom area, bathroom, and sitting area. Burgundy and gold predominate here, and it’s a cozy suite that could be a
stand-in for a church vault.
The Old Rectory: The sitting room in the Old Rectory has a daybed, in case the romance of the suite makes guests feel the need to sit down. The bedroom is equally lavish, with red and dark wood everywhere, and a drapery-covered oak bed. While some of the bathrooms have hardwood floors, The Rectory’s is marble. The chapel-like setting includes a high gothic ceiling. Fabric wallpapers done in rich reds and golds, antique stepstools to get to the relatively high beds – as was the style in the 1500s and 1600s – and claw footed bathtubs are just a few of the details that add up to the lavish romance of a stay in any room here. At first glance it appears that there’s no television, but have no fear: It rises out of a chest at the foot of each four-poster bed. Other signs of modernity include Bose CD players, high-end toiletries by Molton Brown, and a hair straightener, of all things. The climb up curving castle stairs to get to the rooms is quite a treat; bellmen take the luggage, after all, and the cool stones underfoot lend a sense, immediately, of a different era.
The Inner Sanctum: This is the most lavish, decadent, and spoiling of all the suites at the Witchery. The window seats provide full-on views of the Royal Mile. Besides a sitting room/parlor, bedroom and hidden kitchen, there is a study (the bathroom connects to it). It’s one of the original bedrooms at the Witchery B&B in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the standard-bearer.
The Library: The suite fits the name, as there are more antique books in The Library than any other of the seven bedroom suites at the Witchery. There are even shelves of reading material in the bathroom – which also has heated floors, by the way, a nice touch for chilly nights. The bookishness does not take away from the gothic opulence and romance of this suite, however; it’s pretty romantic to curl up with a loved one in the bathtub-for-two.
The Armoury: Like all bedroom suites, The Armoury has a hidden kitchen. The Armoury is on the first floor (as is The Library), so some street noise is unavoidable. Tapestries hung everywhere muffle these sounds somewhat, and add to the poshness of the entrance hall. This is the creme de la creme of The Witchery’s bedroom suites, and often booked far in advance.
The Sempill: Across the street from the Witchery, The Sempill is a newer addition to the Witchery B&B in Edinburgh, Scotland. The suite dates back to 1743, though! It is decorated in the same style as the Guard Room, with antiques throughout. A dramatic, red bedroom with four-poster bed, emerald-green sitting room, and antique touches make it a perfect fit. The heated floor of the bathroom is one of the few concessions to modernity (others include the hidden television).
The Herlot: This is the next-to-newest addition to the collection of suites at the Witchery B&B in Edinburgh, Scotland, and has views facing south over Old Town. Unlike the other rich burgundy suites, the Herlot is designed with black and gold in the sitting room, and green and gold embroidery in the bedroom.
The Turret: The newest suite at the Witchery B&B is on the third floor of the 16th century building, and has views over Old Town, past Princes Street, all the way ti the Firth of Forth and Fife. The Herlot and the Turret were added in the years since my husband and I stayed at the Witchery B&B.
The Witchery B&B in Edinburgh, Scotland — Restaurant
There is a restaurant at the Witchery as well. Come dressed somewhat formally – while jeans may be alright in a fancy Los Angeles restaurant, it would seem unseemly and out of step at The Witchery B&B. Since my spouse and I had such a great time staying at The Witchery B&B, we expected a similar experience at the restaurant. The foie gras appetizer was excellent, and scallops — collected by divers in the Sound of Kilbrannon — were garlicky and original-tasting. The appetizers were smaller than I’d expected them to be, though.
Entrees are either seafood or roasted meats, with a couple of vegetarian dishes that seemed to be grudgingly added. I really enjoyed the Scottish seafood platter, with my dining partner raved about the Cairngorm venison with pumpkin puree. The food here tends toward heavier, Scottish fare; you may want to order a side of sugar snap peas or broccoli, when in season, for balance. Service seemed to be a bit slow an less attentive than the fancy setting indicated it should be. This very well could have been an anomaly, as this was a busy night at the height of tourist season.
A meal at the Witchery B&B’s restaurant is a real indulgence; clearly, most diners were either on vacation or celebrating a special occasion. It’s not just the setting that is lavish and indulgent though. The meals are very expensive. Seriously, the Witchery is no Scottish pub or fish and chips joint. Guests staying at the Witchery bed and breakfast can opt for meal here to mark a special part of their luxury travel experience, but it’s by no means needed to complete the feeling of going back in time that guests get by staying in one of Witchery’s suites.
Now, for guests, the breakfasts are in-room (after all, this is a bed and breakfast). The Scottish continental breakfast, brought up in a picnic basket, includes fruit, croissants, yogurt, a meat/cheese plate and more. The staff quickly sets up a breakfast table, replete with white tablecloth and fine silverware, for this excellent breakfast. Some might call it kitschy, but its true authentic nature bypasses kitsch and brings it all the way around to historic realism.
The Witchery is the closest bed and breakfast to the Edinburgh Castle, with lavish bedroom suites in the original 16th century building. I loved the fantastical feel of our stay here. A luxury vacation in Edinburgh that embraces the city’s history with romance and opulence wouldn’t be complete without a stay at the Witchery B&B.