James Thomson is one of Scotland’s best-known independent hoteliers and restaurateurs.
Despite his parents’ initial misgivings, he set about a career in hospitality and soon acquired a series of run-down 16th Century tenement buildings near the city’s iconic castle.
In 1979, he opened The Witchery by the Castle. He was only twenty years old and became the youngest licensee in Scotland. The Witchery became an integral part of the social and hospitality scene in Edinburgh and is credited with revitalising the city’s neglected Old Town; whilst Thomson’s trademark opulent and atmospheric design style, sitting alongside great food, wine and service and theatrical suites of accommodation has garnered many awards and accolades over four decades.
In 2003, Thomson bought Prestonfield House Hotel, where he had worked as a teenage waiter and embarked on a decadent multi-million-pound refurbishment which soon gained Five AA Red Stars and became AA Hotel of the Year for Scotland.
Thomson is an active ambassador for his city and the Scottish hospitality industry and is involved in many charitable initiatives and education at all levels. He was awarded an OBE in 2005 for services to Hospitality and Tourism in Scotland and became a Deputy Lieutenant of the City of Edinburgh in 2018.