Norton House Hotel and Spa is an elegant Georgian country-house hotel just outside central Edinburgh. The spa itself is part of a modern cluster of buildings separate from the hotel. The facilities are perfect for a restful spa day; swim in the pool, brave the bucket shower and then bubble away in the hot tub. The customer journey is well thought out, and the treatments are excellent. The spa offers very good value-for-money and, on a sunny day, the zen garden is a lovely suntrap.
- Family swim times
- Treatment rooms
- Relaxation room
- Steam room
- 18m indoor swimming pool
- Hydrotherapy pool
- Experience shower
- Exercise studio
- Part of the Hand Picked Hotels group
- Made for Life
Our Spa Spy review
Norton House Hotel and Spa is an elegant Georgian country-house hotel just outside central Edinburgh, near the airport. As the driver twists and turns up a winding drive through woodland, you get a real sense of leaving the real world behind. The grey-stone hotel is traditional in appearance and approach, but the separate spa building is ultra-modern: all glass walls and sharp angles.
To get to the spa from the hotel, walk across the car park and into a walled garden area. Take the glass stairwell (or the lift) to the spa which has been cut into one side of a hill. Spa reception is at a desk to the right, and a coffee shop to the left. We took our welcome packs into the coffee shop, completed our consultation forms, and enjoyed a welcome drink of refreshing grapefruit and cranberry. With floor-to-ceiling windows running down one side, the cafe's atrium becomes very light and bright, so you forget that you're underground.
What's on offer?
The changing rooms are shared with the health club and feel like health-club rather than "spa" changing rooms. Staff will issue you with a locker containing your robe and flip-flops. The changing rooms are a good size, clean, with digital wooden lockers and slate-effect floors, and a private changing cubicle. The four showers have brackets of body wash and "conditioning shampoo", but no actual conditioner. The only body lotion to be found is in brackets on the walls of the separate toilet area. There are three hairdryers available for afterwards but little else. Staff were reasonably efficient at clearing used towels and general tidying.
The turquoise 18-metre pool at Norton House offers plenty of space for a decent swim. The windowed wall along one side gives natural light and there are plenty of loungers around the edges of the pool, and more outside in a rather zen horizontal garden. Check the children's swim times if you want to swim in peace.
In a corner of the pool area are a small blue-tiled steam room and a wooden sauna, which would comfortably seat eight; both were nicely hot on our visit. A water machine lives just by the sauna, which was good to see. To cool down, try the bucket shower or the experience shower.
The separate hydrotherapy pool, screened off from the main pool, offers bubbly air-beds and a magnificently fierce swan pipe to soothe tired muscles.
The spa proper is through separate doors. When you go into the spa area, the atmosphere changes from health club to calm. Relax on sofas in the Amber Lounge, where you await your therapist. Help yourself to fruit, infused water, cordials, and herbal teas.
Norton House has eight treatment rooms, a Rasul mud chamber, plus a manicure and pedicure area.
The relaxation room for after your treatments is a pleasant space with dimmed lights and eight wicker loungers, separated from each other by bamboo screens. Curl up under a blanket and take a nap or help yourself to herbal tea and settle in for a read of a magazine.
The gym is a good size, with natural light and a great choice of cardio-vascular equipment, and free weights. For those who like to take their relaxation with invigoration, Norton House is a nice place to mix it up.
In your spa day, if you have the inclination and there is space, you can also participate in the classes in the fitness studio. These range from Ashtanga yoga all the way through to Zumba.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Elemis Garden of England Rose Restore massage (55 minutes, £70) followed by the Elemis Pro-Collagen Age Defy facial (55 minutes, £75).
My therapist, Christina, met me in the Amber Lounge and took me through to our small but nicely kept treatment room. We discussed the options for the treatment, my concerns with my skin, and any problem areas I'd like her to focus on during the massage. (Neck and shoulders. Always.)
The treatment began with me lying face down on the treatment bed. Christina started the treatment by applying pressure to one side of my body -- up my leg and arm to my shoulder, then down again -- then repeated the pattern on my other side. There followed a massage of my back and shoulders, using a blend of British Botanicals oil and rose balm which was nicely cool. The massage was, as advertised, restorative rather than deep tissue, but very calming. The sweet scents of rose and lavender make a restful combination. Christina asked me to turn over, placed a small lavender pillow over my eyes, and again drizzled one side of me then the other in oil.
For the facial, Christina chose products suitable for my dry skin. She started with a creamy and sweet-smelling pro-collagen cleansing balm followed by a gentle rose exfoliator. This facial also involves facial massage; I could feel the tension in my muscles unwind as Christina worked. She painted on a setting mask and, while my skin was being thoroughly hydrated, treated me to more blissful neck and shoulder massage, which was very relaxing. The mask peeled off fairly neatly; Christina removed the recalcitrant residue with warm flannels. Next came a pro-collagen mask and more hand and arm massage. Moisturiser and eye serum, and I was good to go. My skin looked glowing afterwards and felt noticeably softer and smoother.
The length of the two treatments together -- nearly two hours -- paid off; even a medal-winning worrier would be lulled into languor by all this soothing ministration. I felt lighter and looser as I floated back to the relaxation room.
The Spa at Norton House offers Elemis and Ishga facials, massages, scrubs and wraps. You can try manicures and pedicures and mud treatments in the rasul. You can also try more holistic treatments such as Indian head massage, as well as specific treatments for men and mums-to-be. Should you wish to make a day of it -- or a day and a night of it -- the spa at Norton House gives you plenty of packages to choose from.
If you visit The Spa at Norton House for a spa day, you can eat lunch in your robe in the coffee-shop atrium. The spa lunch menu offers a variety of options, such as soup or a salad to start and a wrap or pasta for mains. They also have a gluten-free lunch menu. You could also go off piste and order fuller main courses such as burgers. (That said, our baked potatoes were so enormous we couldn't finish them.)
Several spa guests were enjoying the afternoon tea on our visit, and we like the idea of trying the savoury twist on the tea next time.
If you're staying in the hotel, the food in the informal Brasserie at both breakfast and dinner is good quality, and modern European in style with tempting veggie options.
We loved / we didn't love
The laid-back atmosphere: all the staff were friendly and helpful, which always helps you to relax.
We didn’t love
The pool, heat areas and changing rooms feel much like any health club, although one with a garden view.
The lack of luxurious touches (such as facial moisturiser) meant that these areas don't have a very spa "feel", and they could do with sprucing up.
Who do you think would like it?
Anyone in the local area: Norton House offers a relaxed and accessible spa day out.
Couples and sets of friends: There are plenty of loungers where you can just catch up or chill, or warm up with drinks in the coffee shop.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We awarded Norton House a Good Spa Guide bubble rating of 5 bubbles. The changing rooms are basic and can get busy, but the facilities on offer, the restful atmosphere of the spa, and the well thought-out treatment menu, mean that Norton House spa adds up to a good value-for-money destination in a lovely setting.
There are two restaurants: The Brasserie for more formal meals and the Health Club Café Bar for relaxation and tranquility whilst enjoying Afternoon Tea.
Norton House Hotel & Spa has 83 bedrooms ranging from Suites, junior suites, feature rooms, double deluxe, executive rooms to traditional bedrooms.
10am - 6pm daily
Travel and Parking
Situated 20 minutes outside Edinburgh City Centre and 5 minutes from Edinburgh Airport, Norton House Hotel & Spa is easily accessible.
Free on-site parking for all guests.
There is a lift to and from the spa. Please contact the spa for more information about individual requirements.