As Halloween approaches, I can’t help but crave a taste of the macabre. Edinburgh was the perfect city to satisfy this perennial desire. And the Witchery was the perfect hotel.
There is a certain vibe to this city in the autumn. The bustling chaos of Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival is long past and the days are noticeably colder, and shorter. The atmosphere is ideal for easing into the spookiest month of the year.
So for a quick trip to Edinburgh, I sought out a hotel I knew would suit my mood.
Perched atop The Royal Mile, the Witchery is one of Edinburgh’s most revered boutique hotels and restaurants. This Gothic property is remarkably elegant, in a Mary, Queen of the Scots kind of way. It has been intact since 1595 and has seen half a millennia of Scottish history. No doubt, a place where lavish and spooky collide.
When I arrived, the concierge led me through a stone entry and up a winding staircase to the Turret Suite, the hotel’s latest addition. The Witchery has nine indulgent suites, each draped from top to bottom in elegant Scottish decor. From the moment I walked into the sultry flat and saw the bottle of champagne on chilling on ice, I knew I had found a gem.
The massive suite had it all – an opulently-draped bed, a tea cabinet (the size of my closet) and a roll-top bath that will make your jaw drop. Best of all, a table was already prepared for in room dining. It’s as if they already know guests will not want to leave their rooms. It offered all the drama, romance and magic I was expecting of a hotel with such a bold name.
Full Scottish breakfast, anyone?
As if the property wasn’t impressive enough, the food is especially noteworthy. Haggis, fish pie and other traditional Scottish dishes were served up by candlelight in the dining room. I can honestly say my meal at the Witchery was one of the best I’ve had in all my travels through Scotland. For a country not known for culinary excellence, the Witchery could certainly give the Parisian all-stars a run for their money.
So, what’s with the name?
According to the staff, the property was the optimal viewpoint from which guests could watch the drama of the witch trials unfold. In the 1600s, women accused of being witches were dragged up the Royal Mile and violently burned at the stake on Castlehill. All while spectators watched from the windows of their posh apartments.
Knowing this brings a whole new level of darkness to this picturesque, but eerie, part of Edinburgh.
I never asked, but I’m pretty sure the Witchery is haunted. Having been privy to such a dark past, it would almost have to be.
If you’re anything like me and want a little luxurious darkness, this is the place to get into the Halloween spirit. And during the rest of the year? A spectacular property that shouldn’t be missed on your visit to Edinburgh.