Stobo Castle is Scotland’s only destination spa. Guests sleep and eat in an historic crenelated castle, while a bright, modern extension at the back provides the setting for a luxurious, eco-friendly spa. The vast pool has a glass wall which overlooks the nearby hills; try the thermal rooms (a large part is for ladies only) or head upstairs to the fitness facilities. Take a moment to relax in the outdoor hot tubs or the many relaxation spaces around the spa.
- XXL robes available
- 25-metre indoor ozone-treated swimming pool
- Outdoor hot tub
- Experience showers
- Steam room
- Hydrotherapy pool
- Sauna (men's)
- Single sex facilities
- Hair studio
- Fitness classes
- Personal Trainer
- Leisure Club
- Spa/club shop
- Mountain biking
- Tennis court
- Ice fountain
- Guided walks (including the Japanese Water Gardens)
- Coffee shop
- Fake Bake
Our Spa Spy review
A proper Scottish castle! 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 front of the building may be a castle, but at the back is a large modern extension with a contemporary spa.
If you're staying overnight, go through the covered entrance, and up the steps into the hall; the reception area is stately, complete with gilt mirrors and a full-sized suit of armour. The bedrooms, dining rooms and drawing room are in the old part of the house and have traditional furnishings.
If you're visiting for a day, you arrive in the spa-reception area of the atrium (and have a locker in a room nearby). This large space -- a relaxing area with comfortable sofas, plants, and light streaming in from the glass roof -- is the bridge between the old part of the castle and the new.
What's on offer?
The changing rooms themselves are spacious if a bit chaotic; towels and robes tend to hang here and there. The showers are functional rather than luxurious, but have wash, shampoo and conditioner. There are private spaces to change, and brackets of cleanser and moisturiser on the walls.
One of the first things you see -- and the jewel in Stobo's crown -- is the beautifully lit 25-metre ozone-treated pool. This has glass walls and an infinity edge, so you can swim while gazing at dramatic views of the countryside. Relax in one of the hanging pod chairs overlooking the pool or on one of the loungers at the side.
To one side of the pool is a large, glass-fronted, wooden-seated sauna and a smaller steam room which would seat six to eight people. In a separate, glass-walled room is a hydrotherapy pool where swan pipes deliver an excellent neck and shoulder massage.
Within the female changing area is the Ladies Health Suite which has more thermal facilities. The small aromatherapy steam room would seat six, the larger (and steamier) crystal steam room and mild laconium with dry heat would each comfortably take eight to ten people. Try the ice fountain or experience showers for cooling in between.
The three outdoor hot tubs are in a sunny courtyard. Each one seats eight and has individual controls: you can just turn and adjust the power of individual jets. We loved sitting in the warm water in the darkness, with twinkling lights above, watching the stars appear.
The well-equipped gym is brightly lit, with the cardio equipment placed so that you can look over the hills as you work out. You can book in for fitness analysis and personal training, one-to-one Pilates in the gym, or you can join the classes in the exercise studio that run throughout the day, from aerobics to yoga.
Between thermal experiences, treatments and activities, you can relax in the atrium, where comfortable seating for 30-40 people is arranged around a huge faux olive tree which has red lanterns hanging from its branches. This central area is where you wait for your treatments. To one side is a café where you can order teas, coffees, wine, Champagne, smoothies, juices, and snacks. A spa shop has products and gifts, and swimwear and slippers in case you forget your own. A very cute restroom has vintage furnishings and flocked wallpaper.
Looking to relax? Try the elegant but comfortable drawing room which has a huge fireplace, cosy sofas, and views of the hills and gardens. The relaxation room is low-lit, with orchids, ten lounger beds, and a reminder that ‘Silence is Golden’.
The grounds at Stobo are both wide and picturesque. The Japanese water garden has striking trees and flowers, bridges, and a waterfall cascading down from the lake. Take full advantage of the scenery by joining an organised guided walk, explore by bike, or take to the tennis courts.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Neom De-Stress Treatment (70 minutes; £95).
My therapist, Emma, took me upstairs from the atrium to one of Stobo's 40 treatment rooms, spacious and low-lit, with neutral tones.
We began with ‘a science of scent therapy’ test. Emma offered me four candles to smell, explaining that the one I chose would reflect what my body most needed. I was tempted by the De-Stress candle, but loved the lemon, neroli and mimosa in the Happiness candle. Besides, who doesn't want to walk out of a treatment room feeling happier than when they went in?
The treatment began with a recorded 10-minute guided meditation, asking me to focus on my breathing, before fading into soothing music. As Gemma drizzled the warm candle wax over my back and limbs, working up and down my body, I could feel myself unwind. Her massage techniques contained a blend of reflexology, shiatsu, and Thai massage. The treatment felt nurturing rather than manipulative; measured and smooth, it allowed tension to evaporate.
I had asked for no oil in my hair, so Gemma washed her hands before embarking on a scalp massage, focusing on trigger points to relieve tension in my head and neck.
I retuned to the real world feeling calm and -- yes -- just that bit happier.
My spa partner had the Caudalie Divine Body Massage (55 minutes; £65), which she pronounced very divine. She returned to the atrium visibly relaxed and wrapped in a gentle fragrance of roses and vanilla.
At Stobo, you can choose from over 80 treatments. Try facials from Darphin and Phytomer, massages ranging from Swedish to Hot Stone, and mud treatments and wraps. Alternative therapies such as reflexology, head massage, and reiki are on offer, as well as beauty treatments such as manicures, pedicures, tanning, and waxing. There is even a hair salon.
Where you eat at Stobo will depend on your package type. We ate in one of the dining rooms in the main house; these have tables for two, larger tables for friends, and shared tables for those who have come alone. The shared tables offer an opportunity to chat.
For lunch, you can dine in your robe and choose from a three-course menu. On our visit, the lunchtime cold buffet of salads and cold meats was accompanied by a choice of hot dishes including baked salmon, beef casserole and vegetarian lasagne. The food is all sourced locally, beautifully cooked and elegantly presented.
You could also have lunch in the spa café in the atrium. Try soups, salads, sandwiches, sweet treats and nibbles.
For dinner, you need to dress and dine in the main house. It's another three-course feast, ranging from soup, through your choice of meat, poultry, fish or vegetarian main course, to a selection of desserts from lemon posset to bread-and-butter pudding.
If you are staying at Stobo, breakfast is a healthy buffet of fresh fruit, yoghurt, cereals and porridge, croissants and toast, or you can order a cooked breakfast.
We loved / we didn't love
The fact that there is so much to do at Stobo Castle: The fabulous facilities can keep you busy all day, as you move between nineteenth-century architecture and twenty-first-century luxury, between activities and relaxation.
The fact that Stobo delivers time after time: you can rely on having a good spa day, your way.
We didn't love
Stobo is a popular spa; at times some of the facilities can feel crowded, which can be disappointing. However, just as there are busy times, there are quiet times, so you just need to be patient to have that pool all to yourself.
Who do you think would like it?
The Stobo experience is ideal for friends and couples, as there is so much to share. Everyone is there to spa, with no children allowed, so you have a relaxing environment.
On the other hand, as there is so much on offer, you could de-stress entirely alone.
(We tried hard, but we couldn't think of anyone who wouldn't like it.)
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We once again awarded Stobo Castle a Good Spa Guide bubble rating of 5 bubbles. With top-class spa facilities, a comprehensive range of treatments, elegant interiors and delicious food, Stobo Castle is a true destination spa. Both a day or a stay will be rewarding.
An informal buffet lunch is available in-between treatments during the day. Breakfast and dinner also available, and every preference can be catered for.
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.
7am - 10pm every day.