At the end of a sweeping driveway – surrounded by 850-acres of majestic Perthshire countryside - you’ll find the grand dame of Scottish boltholes: Gleneagles. The hotel’s heritage (almost 100 years) harks back to the glamourous age of travel when guests would arrive at Gleneagles’ very own train station. Now, concierge will greet you at the grand revolving door, park your car and whisk your luggage to your baronial bedroom.
Play a round of golf at The King’s or Queen’s golf course, peruse the Parisian-style arcade of boutique shops or feast in the Two Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie – one of the 10 restaurants and bars at your disposal. There’s a high-end spa, too, offering wellness treatments that are as decadent as they are effective.
Shall we spa?
The Spa at Gleneagles is sublime. Gold and bronze wet facilities are separated into journeys for men and women; explore the crystal steam room, hot sauna cabin, ice fountains and aromatic showers before re-uniting in the bubbly unisex vitality pool beneath the swan-neck jet.
Spa-goers can also nip next door (in their robes) to swim laps in the beautifully-lit adult pool; we loved bubbling away in the outdoor thermal pool.
When it’s time for your treatment, stroll to the botanical-inspired Spa Wellness Courtyard – a calming palette of sage and pastel pink with statement chandeliers; cool artwork; and an array of chaise lounges, sofas or leather stools to chill on. In the centre: an oasis of plants that weave around a pagoda and over a serene water feature.
Gleneagles is the only spa in Scotland to offer Tata Harper treatments and the first residence in the UK to use Dr Barbara Sturm’s high-tech skincare collection. The spa also has its own range of Gleneagles balms, oils and scrubs made with herbs and plants – borage, sea buckthorn, rosehip, St John’s Wort and pine – all found on the Perthshire estate.
We tried a Mud and Steam Room Ritual (45 mins, £150 for two) followed by a Be in the Moment Massage (80 mins, £205).
The mud room at Gleneagles has a steam chamber with two seats, pretty pottery dishes filled with mud mixes and plenty of towels. We were advised to use the salt scrub - made with Himalayan and Scottish sea salt – to begin with, to cleanse and exfoliate the skin; we then slathered the mud onto each other and sat in the pine-scented steam for 20 minutes.
When the rain comes down (with a sudden gush) it washes the mud off leaving soft, smooth skin. I needed to use the cold-water hose on my wrist and ankles to avoid overheating; I also used a flannel to help remove the mud. Once dry, we applied a balm to our warm skin.
Vicky, my therapist, began my massage with a Salt, Heather & Honey Foot Ritual to cleanse and massage my feet. She used this time to ask questions about my health, my body and what I wanted from the treatment (tense shoulders, to unlock my tight hands and to help me relax and feel invigorated - she might need all 80 minutes of this treatment to achieve this).
Vicky then offered me a scent test; I chose an uplifting oil containing rose otto, neroli and sea buckthorn.
Lying face down on the warm bed, Vicky began the massage by rocking each limb in turn, almost shaking out the stress – this allows her, she explained, to understand how someone holds their stress and which areas she needs to work on. She then used strong sweeping strokes over my back, finishing with a hot cloth.
Turning over, Vicky placed a warm cloth over my eyes and forehead and set to work on my limbs before tackling my neck and shoulders. She ended the treatment with a scalp massage so relaxing I almost fell asleep.
How did it measure up?
The steam and mud treatment left us both giggly after spending time coating each other in mud; our skin was silky smooth. The massage was very effective: my shoulders felt looser, and I was sufficiently spaced out to while away an hour away in the dimly-lit relaxation room
Spot of lunch?
Lunch is served through the double doors from the lounge in the dedicated spa café. Several small tables and chairs are quite widely spaced meaning no chance for eavesdropping.
We both started our meal with fresh crab dressed with a little crème fraiche and warm sourdough bread, which was fresh and tasty. For mains we selected chicken with broccoli; our spa partner tucked into salmon with a side of salad. The spa has a dessert of the day which, on our visit, was an autumnal pumpkin cake, which we shared.
Got all day?
Try out the main pool and the large hydro pool in the fitness area before enjoying the thermal facilities. Linger over lunch, book in for a treatment and then relax in the spa lounge with a good book.
If you are staying overnight, make sure you fit in breakfast in The Strathearn - we found it hard to leave this beautiful conservatory with its hand-painted flora and fauna