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“Sempill - Superbly Romantic”

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The Witchery by the Castle
Ranked #28 of 444 Edinburgh B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
53 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“Sempill - Superbly Romantic”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 May 2009

We stayed in the Sempill suite for 3 nights for my husbands 30th birthday!

This is a totally different experience from staying in a standard/modern hotel. If you want everything modern and perfectly finished this isn't the place. Its rustic, lots of fabrics and velvets and full of unique and strange items - some very bizarre. There was a crack on the mirror in the bath, strange wallpaper that was snapped in half, 2 funky lights in the dining room - one with the bottom broke off, but it all adds to the character of the room, I wouldn't complain about it. It makes it what it is.

The Sempill suite is the opposite side of the road from the main witchery building - all suites are except 2. We walked down a close called Jollies close to a locked gate that your room key opens then up to our own front door. When entering the room we were amazed at the size of it. Huge long corridor. The website doesn't do the rooms justice.

To the left was the kitchen - big enough room with a full cooker, plenty tea/coffee, large fridge with freezer and fresh milk and cupboards with pans. An iron & iron board was also in there.

Out of the kitchen you are in a small lobby area. On the table is where the serve the champagne and 2 bottles of water on ice - every day! We kept our champagne to have with breakfast. There is also a jar with 2 fresh cookies.

Along the corridor you come to the dining area. Large benches, a desk (with guest note book) and the breakfast table which is nicely laid out. Large fireplace with electric fire (not sure if it worked).

Next is the very large bathroom. Underfloor heating - that could get very hot! Large sink with really nice toiletries, Molton brown hand wash & cream, large roll top bath big enough for to with Molton brown shampoo & shower gel. Illumated makeup/shaving mirror. Plenty towels for the 2 of us.

Then into the very large bedroom. Four poster bed, very comfy and cosy. Not much storage, a small cupboard with hangers. Lots of objects like a large chest, unusual scottish history books, panel on wall for controlling heating or air conditioning - it can get very hot, but easy to cool down. Hair dryer, GHD straighteners and a safe. Large unit with doors that open to a large plasma TV and DVD player. A selection of DVDs. Bose CD player/radio next to bed and phone. Another large fireplace with electric fire (again not sure if worked)

There are lots of windows with roll down blinds and large heavy velvet curtains. Original sash & case windows that all open. Lots of lights switches in the entire suite, but it is very dull. All lights are on dimmers. You can get the bathroom quite bright. But it all adds to the feel of the place, its not meant to be bright and airy.

The suite above can be noisy though as with the original floorboards you an hear every footstep. Not much views from any of the windows, all brick walls.

No internet access, but this isnt the kind of place you want to work or use the internet.

It is literally a 2 minute walk to the castle and perfect location on the Royal Mile.

Most of the staff were really nice and helpful, but we didnt have much dealings with them except for Roxy who was the guy that took us to our room & served breakfast, very camp but lovely guy, very very helpful.

Breakfast in room is free and continental. You can pay to eat in the restaurant for a hot breakfast but we found it was plenty. 2 crossiants & 2 chocolate au pain, choice of cereals, choice of fruit platters, a yogurt and cheese and meat pleat - delicous freashly squeezed orange juice - it is really nice, and goes well in the champagne to.

We ate in the restaurant which wasn't that great to be honest, slightly overpriced, £34 for a fillet of steak without any side orders! It was nice enough but there are loads of other nice places around, the Thai Orchid is really nice and just down a few steps you are in the Grassmarket with plenty choice - the Musells & steak restaurant is lovely!

Overall the price of £295 per night seems expensive, but we did think it was worth it. For a bottle champagne, 2 bottles of water, 2 cookies, a bar of their own chocolate (£4 to buy), fresh milk and breakfast every day, and for the size of the suite and the experience of it and where it is, its not too bad.

  • Stayed May 2009, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Kelsrae
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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Fife
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 April 2009

One to be avoided. The most overrated establishment we have ever come across. Completely undeserving of the tag it has been given. Don't believe the hype. This place has been dining out on its reputation for years. However from our experience The Witchery no longer lives up to that reputation (if it ever did?).

We stayed in the Inner Sanctum. One of the very original Witchery suites, rated as one of the suites to set the "exceptional standards". What we discovered was accommodation well past its sell by date and crying out for a renovation.

The general standard and cleanliness of the room was lacking. The suite is described as being opulent and decadent. Dream on. Filled with antiques? Yes, the sort of old wardrobes and cupboards you can pick up in one of a hundred different antique shops and junk shops in the region. That was what the room reminded us of, a junk shop. Merely a random, ill-fitting clutter of objects and mediocre furniture.

The bathroom was no better. Tatty, worn and completely unremarkable.

Most of the staff were pleasant enough, but they lack training and good hotel experience. The management however are without doubt the most stuck-up and arrogant individuals ever to be found in the hotel industry. If the hotel was half as good as they seem to think it is, then they might be on to a winner.

The restaurant also unfortunately failed to impress. My wife ordered the lamb, I chose the fish. She was unable to finish her meal and I could not help her either, it was foul. We complained and they were happy to knock it off the bill. The fish was edible, spiced cod if I remember correctly. Overspiced and downright unremarkable would be a better description.

Heed my warning. There is better value for money available in Edinburgh. If it is romance you are looking for, The Witchery is the worst kind of cold shower.

  • Stayed February 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank FrequentFlyerFife
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Surrey
Level Contributor
39 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 April 2009

We stayed in the Sempill suite for one night on 5th April. It was an amazing experience from beginning to end and we will definitely return to the accommodation, though I doubt very much we would eat in the restaurant again.
We drove up from Surrey and arrived at 2.15pm. Check in was from 3pm but Roxy came and took our luggage to our suite while we went and parked the car and we were able to get into our suite at 2.30pm.
Roxy showed us around. It is more a flat than a suite, with a kitchen equipped for making basic meals too.
There was a bucket with champagne on ice and bottles of chilled water and jar of biscuits in the suites entrance lobby. We were shown around the rest of the suite and then finally into the gorgeous bedroom where classical music was softly playing as we entered the room.
It oozes romance,history and is like a little fantasy world of your own for your stay. Checkout is a respectable midday and we made the most of every single minute of our stay and can't wait to return to try some of the other suites.
We had a continental breakfast brought to our suite at the time we requested and this was laid out for us. It consisted of a choice of cereals,choice of juices, tea or coffee,croissants,pain au chocolat,fresh fruit or fresh melon platter,plate each of cheeses and cold meats,yogurts - more than enough to start our day well!
The only negatives were that if someone is staying in the suite above you then you can hear every footstep. This would have been ok except the people above were up and around at 5.45 am and woke us up. We were very tired still after an early start the day before and long drive so were not too happy!
The other down side was the restaurant. We chose to eat in the original Witchery restaurant which in itself was very nice. The starters was fine and the dessert we had was a selection of al the available desserts and was realy lovely too. The wine list is enormous!! Unfortunately the main course was a disaster. We both chose the duck which came with cabbage.I asked the waitres if we needed to order a side dish of potatoes and she assured us our meal came with potates dauphinoise but we could order another vegetable as well if we wished. We declined as we thought with the potatoes it would be adequate. Our meal arrived with a tiny portion of cabbage but no potatoes. No one asked us if we were enjoying our meal and by the time we caught the waitresses eye and queried the lack of potatoes we had almost finished. She apologised for her mistake, but it spoilt the whole meal as we left the restaurant still very hungry. Also, the duck was not nice at all. We both prefer our duck to be well cooked and not still quacking!! To say it was rare was an understatement. It was very bloody and hard to eat as it was very chewy as a result and not nice at all. As already stated, no one asked us if everything was ok! As well as this, my husband requested a whisky and as they had a large selection we were told they would bring the list of available whiskies. The list never arrived despte repeated attempts to catch the eye of someone to request it again! We paid £115 for the 2 of us for an inadequate experience and left there feeling hungry and rather disappointed with the overall meal.
Having said that, I would not hesitate in booking a suite at The Witchery again but next time will give their own restaurants a miss and eat out at one of the other many fine restaurants nearby at a fraction of the price.

  • Stayed April 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
2 Thank maidmarianSurrey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
wolverhampton
Level Contributor
9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 March 2009

It would be easy for me to criticise those who have left disparaging remarks or cast negative views about the Witchery. I shall not , not because I dont want to but perhaps the Witchery is only there for we special people, people who appreciate and love it, people who view it as a treat and see the love that has been laboured upon it. People who have become part of its history just by staying there. The Witchery is magical, it is special and loving and kind and dark and mysterious and seductive. It is Narnia through the wardrobe only better.

On with the show...
We stayed in The Old Rectory and Margaret showed us to our room, she was lovely and more importantly she was proud to show us the room. Margaret didnt seem at all surprised when I had an "emotional moment" when she opened the door to our room. The Old Rectory is so beautiful and the pictures dont do it justice as it is far more opulent and mysterious than shown. The room if i can call it that is just enormous, a reception area with a huge day bed and tea and coffee etc greeted us and then lead to a sitting area where we had our breakfast. The room has so many things to look at i wandered for a good hour just examining all the hidden delights. The bed is huge and faces the windows out of which you can see the sea. I can't say (like others) that i was disturbed by traffic or people passing as there was only a little noise and it was enjoyable to people watch out of the window.
The bathroom is without doubt the most remarkable room I have ever seen. The bath is roll top and has space for two. The ceiling is beautiful and hand painted with angels paying homage to the wonder of Scottish history. The mirrors are amazing and play tricks with your imagination. I didnt notice the sink for a while as i though it was a reflection from somewhere!

The final act...
We ate in the Secret Garden, it is beautiful, like we imagined it would be. The food was marvellous and the staff were wonderful. Yes the reception is at the top of that stairs - SO WHAT. If you want a nice symmetical spacious boring layout then please go away and stay somewhere else. The Witchery is a maze of excitement, interest and secrecy. To stay there is a dream and to eat there is a marvel. It is truly bewitching. Inside every door you find something new. The staff are lovely, kind and thoughtful people and the atmosphere is one of wonder.

Without doubt, the stay of a lifetime.

  • Stayed March 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank stingraysister
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Edinburgh, Scotland
Level Contributor
71 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 145 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 March 2009

Wanted to surprise partner on a BIG birthday and, as we live in Edinburgh, we were aware of these apartments but never stayed. I had looked at Trip A and it seemed that the most popular was Old Rectory so, fingers crossed, booked it for last Wednesday night. When we arrived, the guy (lovely Roxy) opens the door and you just go "WOW" its a huge room and it really is OPULENT beyond belief. The bed is fab, not hard at all as some reviews had given it. All the soft furnishings are still top notch (I thought they might be a little worn as this room is SO popular (when you check out the visitor's book, its hardly ever free). Bathroom is FAB, so of course we enjoyed a lovely long soak. Tiny bit disappointed with the fruit for breakfast, could have been a little more adventurous given the cost of the room. All in all I would thoroughly recommend this for a SPECIAL night of passion.........!

  • Stayed March 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Maggiesoup
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Glasgow
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 March 2009

My husband and I had a fabulous weekend at The Witchery in Fen 09. We spent a night in The Vestry Suite and had dinner in The Witchery restaurant. What a place.. I can't think of nowhere better for utterly foccusing on each other and on romance. The location, right next to the Castle, is so atmospheric. Our suite was gorgeous - so full of character and we felt completely removed from the cares of the world as we enjoyed champagne in the middle of the afternoon whilst soaking in the huge bath. Dinner in the restaurant was great - yes, a tad overpriced but great food and very professional service. Can't wait to go back and try another suite.

  • Stayed February 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank gj59
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, England
Level Contributor
77 reviews
74 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 166 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 March 2009

My wife and I had the pleasure of staying at the Witchery in the summer of 2008...We stayed in the Inner Sactum suite...The hotel is in a great location, right on the Royal Mile, just below the Edinburgh Castle...Our room was decorated in a gothic fashion with all sorts of interesting detail...We felt like we were staying in a gothic castle...The service was excellent and the staff was very helpful...The restaurant, although very highly regarded, was good (not great)...We did eat at Martin Wishart which was very good and probably deserving of two Michelin Stars (has one already) and definitely worth a trip.

  • Stayed June 2008, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank bobd72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Witchery by the Castle

Property: The Witchery by the Castle
Address: The Royal Mile | Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NF, Scotland
Region: United Kingdom > Scotland > Edinburgh > Old Town , Castle / Royal Mile / High St
Amenities:
Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #28 of 444 B&Bs / Inns in Edinburgh
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Hotel Class:5 star — The Witchery by the Castle 5*
Number of rooms: 7
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Also Known As:
The Witchery By The Castle Hotel Edinburgh
Witchery Edinburgh
Edinburgh Witchery
Witchery Hotel Edinburgh
The Witchery By The Castle Edinburgh, Scotland

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