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James Thomson OBE

Scotland's best-known hotelier-restauranteur

The Witchery's indulgent owner, James Thomson, is Scotland's best-known restauranteur and hotelier, recently adding the national accolade of "Restauranteur of the Year" to his many other awards which include an OBE for services to hospitality and Scottish Tourism.

James created The Witchery in 1979, starting the long-term rescue of Boswell's Court, a sixteenth century building at the heart of the Old Town that he loved.

Now in its fourth decade, The Witchery is probably Scotland’s best-known restaurant and restaurant-with-rooms, a favourite of both visitors to the city and its fiercely loyal local clientele. Over the years The Witchery has grown to include the elegant Secret Garden restaurant and a collection of 9 uniquely sumptuous and quirky luxury suites.

The Witchery has been joined by a growing collection of distinctive hotel and restaurant properties including the city's opulent Rhubarb and his startlingly decadent historic five red star hotel, Prestonfield. All share the Thomson hallmarks of magical experiences – created with passion and delivered with style!

James remains an active ambassador for Scottish tourism and is closely involved in a range of industry, educational and charitable organisations including The Prince's Trust in Scotland of which he is a Council Member. In 2005 he was recognised for services to hospitality and the Scottish tourism industry with an OBE.

The Witchery is a very personal passion for James. He is currently restoring another part of the historic building and he can be seen each day, adding many of the personal touches that make The Witchery so unique.

Links to articles

Prestonfield House: An Opulent Edinburgh Retreat - Andrew Harper
The Hot Scots Power 40: James Thomson, the Witchery by the Castle
A Hospitality Legend - James Thomson - Hotel Scotland
James Thomson's Edinburgh The Witchery - Vents Magazine
Flavour Profile Q&A - James Thomson OBE, owner of …
BBC News | Hoglets born in hotel reception
The Telegraph, The Witchery by the Castle

James also supports the following Charities:

  • Ex Old Town renewal committee responsible for regeneration of the Old Town in the 1980's including Castlehill
  • Ex Old and New Town development committee responsible for regeneration and opening of St Andrew Square to the public
  • Founding member and ex Chair, Edinburgh Restaurateurs Association
  • Old Town Business Association
  • Governor at George Heriot's School Trust for 16 Years
  • Heriot's Rugby Club sponsor and ex committee
  • Castlebrae School
  • Prestonfield Primary School
  • Liberton Secondary
  • Princes Trust Scotland committee member for 20 years
  • Creator of Lunch with an Old Bag, now in its 15th year raising over £6 million and changing lives of 6000 lives in Scotland.  Over £1 million raised to date from 'One pound on a bill' for Prince's Trust Scotland collected at The Witchery and Prestonfield
  • Sisters of Mercy, Sister Aelred, St Catherine's Convent, Edinburgh's Feeding the Homeless
  • Leuchie House, North Berwick Respite holidays for people severe autoimmune disease as MS, MND and stroke patients
  • Spartans Football Academy
  • Bill McLaren Foundation
  • Sportsman's Charity and Ex-trustee
  • Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity
  • Crohn's & Colitis UK
  • CHAS
  • Alzheimer Scotland
  • Founding trustee and supporter of Prostate Scotland
  • Ex-trustee of Springboard Charity
  • Sight Savers Charity
  • Redpath Albion AFC Youth Football team sponsorship
  • Hospitality Industry Trust and climbed Kilimanjaro to raise funds
  • One City Trust
  • Edinburgh College /Telford College, Annual James Thomson Award for Hospitality Customer Service Award for 22 years and student and lecturer placement programme
  • House of Lords Student Colleges Gold Award
  • St Columba's Outward Bound Centre, Staffin, Skye
  • Future Chef
  • UK Hospitality Scotland Committee formerly British Hospitality Association and BHRCA for over 40 years
  • Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

And many more!