Owner of Prestonfield House & The Witchery awarded Master Innholder status


James Thomson OBE is one of Scotland’s best-known independent restaurateurs and hoteliers with a distinct portfolio consisting of Prestonfield House, an AA five red star luxury hotel and The Witchery, an iconic restaurant with nine suites.

James is among just 10 industry-leading professionals who have received the award this year in recognition of their outstanding contribution to hospitality. The award, created by the Worshipful Company of Innholders, is given to those that have demonstrated themselves as influential and inspirational leaders within the hotel industry.

Dan Rose-Bristow FIH MI, chairman of the Master Innholders, commented: “To become a Master Innholder, you need to demonstrate great leadership qualities, your reasons for wanting to become a Master Innholder, what you stand for as a hotelier, your involvement in the wider hospitality community in terms of education and charity, and an appreciation of the heritage and traditions of the Worshipful Company of Innholders, who award the honour. Our 10 successful applicants this year all demonstrated their passion and drive for our profession and were all committed to becoming an active part of our community. I am extremely proud to welcome all these inspiring individuals to our family, who will become Master Innholders when they receive their award from the Worshipful Company of Innholders in June.”

James has been a significant player within the Scottish hospitality scene and a great inspiration within the industry since he opened The Witchery aged 20. James expresses a huge amount of love for his city and was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Edinburgh in 2018. He has successfully designed and managed Edinburgh’s most beloved restaurants, building a worldwide reputation for great Scottish food, wine and service. He has been accredited with regenerating Edinburgh’s Old Town into a vibrant tourist destination and in 2005, was awarded an OBE for his services to Scottish Hospitality and Tourism.

As a member of the Prince’s Trust Scottish Advisory Board, James created the annual ‘Lunch with an Old Bag’ event in aid of the charity which has raised over £7 million since its launch in 2009 and has helped change the lives of over 7,000 young people in Scotland. James is also a Founding Patron of Springboard UK which helps disadvantaged and unemployed people of all ages and backgrounds to pursue a career in hospitality, gaining the skills, knowledge and experience needed to flourish in this sector.

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