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 200-year-old castle in the Scottish borders, half an hour from Edinburgh. Not many castles have a spa, but Stobo is, in fact, Scotland's only destination spa. The pool and treatment area were added to the castle in 2003 as part of a £5 million development which created a luxurious and modern spa complex.
After a long drive though rolling hills, we were glad to arrive at the grand castle entrance, complete with a full-sized suit of armour and a grand old-fashioned staircase which splits into two directions leading to the first-floor bedrooms.
The spa reception, spa shop and coffee shop are in a large atrium at the back of the castle with a glass roof which lets light stream in. It is a relaxing area with underfloor heating and plenty of comfortable sofas, where people wait for and relax between treatments. You can order teas, coffees, wine, fruit juices and snacks from the coffee shop here as well.
Some of the heat facilities are in the changing rooms, while others are available to both men and women.
In the women's changing area is a crystal steam room, a laconium with dry heat, and an experience shower, together with an ice fountain for cooling down between heat treatments. A separate steam room, sauna and shower are in the locker room for male day guests.
In the main "mixed" area is an impressive 25-metre ozone-treated pool with glass walls and infinity edge, a hydrotherapy pool where swan pipes deliver an excellent neck and shoulder massage, and a steam room with pleasant, moist heat. The hydrotherapy pool is in a separate room with glass doors, which keeps the noise down in the main pool area.
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. You can book in at the gym for fitness analysis and personal training, one-to-one Pilates, or a variety of classes.
Outside are three large hot tubs, gardens to walk in, and mountain bikes on which to explore the surrounding countryside. We took a dawn walk down to the Japanese Garden, and watched the sun rise over the castle: a good way to earn your breakfast.
First-floor bedrooms are large and comfortable with views over the surrounding countryside. In the castle, the elegant drawing room has a huge fireplace, cosy sofas, and views of the hills and gardens: a great place to just sit and relax.
The Cashmere Suite is quite extraordinary and perfect to stay in for a special occasion. The walls are lined with cashmere, there are cashmere throws and a huge beautiful cashmere rug on the floor. Doors and bookshelves are made from black walnut, and the bathroom has a marble bath carved from a single block, which weighs over a ton. The two huge double beds, also covered in cashmere, are hand-painted and imported from Italy. A complimentary bottle of Bollinger champagne greets guests. We had to drag ourselves away from this luxury in order to head for the spa.
We had the Oriental Harmony Couples Ritual (90 minutes, £180): a massage and chromo-energetic bath in a large double treatment room. Our therapists Jayne and Lucy started the treatment with a very relaxing massage using a wonderfully rich massage balm containing black tea, shea butter and macadamia oil. The balm also contained a small grainy exfoliant, so it stimulated the skin, and sloughed off the dead top layer. My therapist focused on my shoulders as I asked and took care with the head massage, which I often find uncomfortable. She finished the treatment by placing hot stones on my lower back, at which point I nearly drifted off to sleep!
Once we were both completely massaged and relaxed, we moved to the hydro-bath. Lucy and Jayne took care to clean the soles of our feet with hot cloths before we got off the beds so that we didn't slip on the floor.
The large bath has massage jets on all sides. Once we were safely settled in the warm water, our therapists turned on the bubbles, and turned down the main lights. The "chromo" element of colour-changing lights was very soothing and we ended the session feeling very clean as well as very relaxed.
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.
The food was quite variable. Some was excellent, especially the venison, the smoked salmon and the sea bass, but some was disappointing.
Breakfasts include plenty of fresh fruits, wonderful porridge and local kippers as well as traditional cooked breakfasts, but the cereals tasted like "own brand" versions, and the orange juice tasted like long-life carton juice. There is a good choice of wines by the glass and by the half bottle.
Meals are served in three small dining rooms which at breakfast time means much coming and going to the buffet table in one of the dining rooms, which can make it feel a bit chaotic when busy.
The grandeur of the castle combines well with the modern and stylish spa within it. Even though the spa is ten years old, it is in good condition and very well maintained.
We loved some small, thoughtful touches, such the numbered hooks for robes in the changing room, so you can remember which of the many identical robes is yours.
We loved the large, warm and light spa seating area where you'll find spa reception, the café, and where you wait for your therapist to collect you: it's the hub of the spa.
The range of outdoor activities includes guided walks in the grounds, tennis courts, mountain bikes or fishing in the river Tweed.
That they wash your car for you: a nice surprise when it is time to leave.
We didn't love the coffee. It was thin and acidic. I gave up drinking it and went down to the spa for a cappuccino instead.
Couples, who will enjoy the romantic side of staying in a castle.
The energetic, who can combine countryside walks with the well-equipped gym.
Single spa goers: The friendly staff go out of their way to make everyone feel special and there is plenty to do in the spa.
We gave Stobo Castle a Good Spa Guide rating of 5 bubbles because the setting is beautiful, the treatments professional, the facilities extensive, and the staff very friendly and polite.
Sybaritic Spy visited Stobo Castle Health Spa in March 2014