A short stay in a Scottish castle is always bound to cheer you up. Add in first-class spa facilities, a comprehensive range of treatments, elegant interiors and delicious food, and you're going to float home. Stobo is a deeply romantic, as well as a healthy place to stay; it is equally enjoyable with friends, partners, or alone. We loved watching the Scottish hills through the pool windows as the sun went down.
|Key Brands:||Darphin, Phytomer, Gatineau, Jessica, Fake Bake|
|Treatment Menu:||View this spa's treatment menu|
7am - 10pm every day.
Seven room styles available from Castle Lodge Rooms to The Cashmere Suite. Room rates start at £218 per room per night or £109 per person, including meals and use of the health suites and spa facilities.
An informal buffet lunch is available in-between treatments during the day. Breakfast and dinner also available, and every preference can be catered for.
A castle, for starters. Stobo is near Peebles, around a half-hour drive from Edinburgh. You turn into the sweeping drive and, at the final bend, get your first view of the 200-year-old castle, surrounded by rolling hills and pine forests.
The Winyard family bought the dilapidated buildings in 1975, embarked on a complete renovation, and opened Stobo as a health spa in 1978. In 2003, an ambitious £5 million development created a separate spa complex, so Stobo successfully blends 19th-century architecture with 21st-century luxury.
Through the covered entrance, up the steps into the hall, and the reception area is stately, complete with gilt mirrors and a full-sized suit of armour. Just beyond, a grand old-fashioned staircase splits into two directions.
The jewel in Stobo's crown is the 25-metre ozone-treated pool with glass walls and infinity edge; you can swim while gazing at panoramic views of the countryside, or relax on one of the loungers around the pool.
In a separate, glass-walled room is a hydrotherapy pool where swan pipes deliver an excellent neck and shoulder massage, and a steam room with pleasant heat.
Outside is a fabulous new wooden hot tub, large enough to seat six. It's quite special to sit in bubbly warm water and gaze at the snow on the surrounding hills.
Within the female changing area is a crystal steam room, a laconium with dry heat, and an experience shower. There is also an ice fountain for cooling in between.
The changing rooms are spacious if a bit chaotic; towels and robes tend to be spread around. The showers are functional rather than luxurious.
The spa has 40 treatment rooms, and a wide range of treatments is on offer.
The well equipped gym is brightly lit and looks out over the pool at one end, while the cardio equipment is placed so that you can look over the hills as you work out. In the exercise studio, classes run throughout the day, from aerobics to yoga.
The spa reception, spa shop and coffee shop are in a large atrium; a relaxing area with many comfy sofas, well kept plants and light streaming in from the roof. The spa shop stocks swimwear and slippers in case you forget your own. The coffee shop offers teas, coffees, wine, fruit juices and snacks.
The elegant but comfortable drawing room has a huge fireplace, cosy sofas, and views of the hills and gardens-- a great place to just sit and relax.
The grounds at Stobo are both wide and picturesque. The enormous, slightly curved glass wall of the modern spa extension sits next to the old castle gracefully, guarded by a giant wooden sculpture of an eagle with outspread wings. The Japanese garden has striking trees and flowers, little bridges, and a waterfall cascading down from the lake.
I had the Gatineau Complete Resculpting Facial (85 minutes, £99), which is described as "the ultimate in skin rejuvenation".
My treatment involved cleansing, three specific anti-ageing facial massages, and the application of the Hormomasque, which contains botanical extracts. Natalie, my therapist, explained all the procedures to me, including the fact that she would apply bandages to my skin as part of the lifting process. The treatment was relaxing and soothing. Afterwards, my skin felt very smooth and the treatment had helped to plump out some fine lines.
The array of treatments at Stobo is wide and varied, with over 80 to choose from. Try facial treatments from Darphin and Phytomer, a wide variety of massages ranging from Swedish to Hot Stone, and Stobo's own treatments and wraps. You can try alternative therapies such as reflexology, head massage, and reiki, as well as beauty treatments such as manicures, pedicures, Fake Bake, and waxing. There is even a hair salon. Don't forget about the mud treatments, too, on offer in the Serailbad.
There are also specific treatments for men, who certainly won't feel alone at Stobo, and for mums-to-be.
You can book in for fitness analysis and personal training, one-to-one Pilates in the gym, or a variety of classes. You can detox, get fit, or simply relax.
Take full advantage of the picturesque surroundings via the organised guided walks around the grounds, or explore the scenery by bike. For something a bit more energetic, Stobo has its own tennis courts.
The Stobo experience comes in a range of prices for residential and day packages. If you want to just dip your toe into the water, the Blissful Spa Day offers particularly good value at £109. At the other end of the scale, the Cashmere Suite costs from £289 per person per night.
There are three small dining rooms, with tables for two, larger tables for friends, and shared tables for those who have come alone. The shared tables offer an opportunity to make friends and exchange spa stories.
The menu is full and varied. The food is all sourced locally, beautifully cooked and elegantly presented.
If you are staying at Stobo, breakfast is a healthy buffet of fresh fruit, yoghurt, cereals and porridge, croissants and toast, or you can have a cooked breakfast. For lunch, there is delicious cold buffet, fresh home-made soup and a choice of hot dishes. Dinner is a three-course feast with starters, a choice of meat, poultry, fish or vegetarian main course, and a selection of desserts. There is also a good wine list!
We loved the fact that there is so much to do at Stobo Castle. All the fabulous facilities can keep you busy all day.
If you're staying for a special occasion, try the Cashmere Suite: an extravagant collection of cashmere, silk, black walnut, and hand-crafted limestone. The enormous limestone bath, carved from a single block, weighs over a ton. The two huge double beds, also covered in cashmere, are hand-painted and imported from Italy. At the foot of each bed is a plasma screen, so no arguing over what to watch. You'll almost forget your complimentary Bollinger champagne.
This is a popular spa; at times some of the facilities can feel full, which can be disappointing.
The Stobo experience is ideal for friends and couples, as there is so much to share. On the other hand, as there is so much on offer, you could de-stress entirely alone.
We gave Stobo 5 bubbles because the setting is beautiful, the treatments professional, the facilities extensive, and the staff very friendly and polite.
We visited Stobo Castle Health Spa in February 2013