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
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 laid back.
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 orange juice. 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. The four showers have brackets of body wash and ‘conditioning shampoo’; there are three hairdryers to use afterwards. Staff were efficient at clearing used towels and general tidying.
The turquoise 18 metre pool at Norton House offers plenty of space for a good 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.
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 a 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, plus a water machine. For those who like to take their relaxation with invigoration, this is a nice place to mix it up.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Elemis face and body couture technology (110 minutes; £115). This is an ideal treatment to choose when you can't decide whether you want a massage or a facial: Have both! You get results and relaxation.
My therapist, Hollie, 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 the massage. I had chosen the "thermal-soothing" Deeper than Deep hot stone massage, and soothing it certainly was. I love the scent of the Elemis frangipani oil, which is kind to my dry skin. Hollie used the hot stones to ease my tight muscles, working out the knots in my shoulders with measured, calm strokes, and the stresses in my lower back with ease. I felt deeply relaxed when it was over.
The anti-ageing facial that followed is designed to smooth out wrinkles and restore radiance. The facial involves creamy cleansers, refreshing toners, careful exfoliation, soothing serums, and cold masks. Also, science. Hollie kicked the BIOTEC machine into action. First, she delivered micro-currents (which can tingle a bit but aren't painful) to physically firm my skin. She then covered my face with a hydrating mask before using the machine to infuse oxygen and the active ingredients in the mask deep into my skin. (She let me feel this on my shoulder first, so I wasn't startled when I felt the strong bursts of compressed air on my face.)
My skin looked glowing with health afterwards, and felt noticeably softer and smoother.
My spa partner tried the Elemis body massage (55 minutes; £69) which was both soothing and relaxing. All you could want from a massage.
The Spa at Norton House offers Elemis and Ishga facials, massages and body treatments. You can try manicures and pedicures, mud treatments in the rasul, and treatments for mums-to-be and men. You can also try more holistic treatments such as reflexology, Indian head massage and traditional Thai massage. 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 cafe-bar atrium. The spa lunch menu offers limited options, such as soup or a salad to start, and a wrap or pasta for mains. You could also go off piste and order fuller main courses such as burgers. (That said, our smoked-salmon salad was so enormous, we couldn't finish it, or the delicious goat's cheese tart which followed.)
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
We loved the laid-back atmosphere in the spa; all the staff were all friendly and helpful, which always helps you to relax.
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 didn'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 an excellent value-for-money destination in a lovely setting.
The Spa Brasserie serves refreshments and healthy dining options; Ushers Restaurant offers fine dining; The Brasserie Restaurant offers an informal dining option; The Conservatory offers drinks and snacks.
83 rooms available and five room types from Classic Rooms to the Kingdom Suite.
10am - 6pm daily