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.
25-metre indoor ozone-treated swimming pool
Outdoor hot tub
Single sex facilities
Guided walks (including the Japanese Water Gardens)
Our Spa Spy review
It's pretty special to spa in a Scottish castle. Set in the low hills of the Scottish borders, Stobo Castle is a destination spa. The front of the building is all crenellated castle, but the back is a large modern extension with a very contemporary spa.
Whether you visit for a day or an extended break, you can find everything you need from treatments to dining and shopping on the estate.
What's on offer?
The bedrooms, dining rooms and drawing room are in the old part of the house and have traditional furnishings; think oriental images and fabrics and period furniture. The drawing room has a selection of newspapers to pore over in quiet, too. If you're staying, check in at the main reception (past the suit of armour) before heading up to your room. The oriental flourishes run through the glass atrium which connects the old house with the new.
The atrium is the spa-reception area, a courtyard-shaped building with stone walls, a glass roof and Roman-style tiling on the floor. The central comfortable seating for 30-40 people is where you wait for your treatments. At the centre of the space is a huge faux olive tree which has bright red lanterns hanging from the branches. To one side is a café where you can order drinks, wine, champagne, smoothies, juices, light lunches and sweet treats. A spa shop has products, swimwear and gifts, and a very cute restroom has vintage furnishings and flocked wallpaper. If you visit for a day, you'll have a locker in a room just off this atrium.
The gents' changing rooms are a traditional changing area with showers and plenty of changing space. The female equivalent is the "Ladies Health Suite" with loos, showers and four thermal facilities. A small aromatherapy steam room would just seat six, the larger crystal steam room and mild laconium would comfortably take eight to ten people. Both steam rooms weren't quite hot enough when we visited, but rub the flakes from the ice fountain onto your skin if you need to cool down. The Health Suite has lots of towels so you can dry off after your shower.
Head through the doors to the mixed-sex thermal facilities and pool. The main 25-metre pool has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the surrounding hills. We loved swimming lengths watching the sun move over the countryside. Take a seat in one of the hanging pod chairs overlooking the pool or the loungers on the side. This shared area has a large, glass-fronted sauna and a smaller steam room which would seat six to eight people. The hydrotherapy pool has bubble seats, swan pipes and airbeds.
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 were impressed!
The post-treatment relaxation room is a new addition at Stobo Castle. Walk through a corridor lined with bronze mirrors to a low-lit room with orchids and blue and grey wallpaper. With ten lounger beds, this is the perfect place for a quiet nap.
Upstairs are the treatment rooms, manicure/pedicure studio, hair salon, and gym with cardio and weights facilities. Phew… We think that's everything!
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Caudalie Polyphenol C15 Detox Facial (55 minutes, £60) and Caudalie Divine Massage (55 minutes, £60). My therapist, Lorraine, met me in the atrium and took me along to our treatment room. We discussed my skin type (oily and congested – sigh!) and areas of concern. Lorraine began the facial by cleansing my face twice, then took a proper look at my skin. She exfoliated my skin then applied Polyphenol Detox Oil, massaging it into my arms, neck and face. Lorraine moved some dinky cold rollers gently across my face, massaging in the oil.
Lorraine cleansed my skin again with a beautifully scented cleanser and toner then applied a thick, peel-off mask. It went on cool and set while Lorraine massaged my hands and arms. She removed the mask, cleansed, then applied a finishing serum and moisturiser. The fresh, light Caudalie products smelled beautiful throughout and my skin felt soft and hydrated.
My spa partner had the Divine Massage which he declared very divine; perfect after a run around the nearby lochs.
Stobo has two dining options, and where you eat will depend on your package type. We ate in one of the dining rooms in the main house; you're assigned a space, and for lunch and dinner can choose from a three-course menu. A lunchtime cold buffet of salads and cold meats was accompanied by a choice of four hot dishes including salmon, beef and pasta.
You could also have lunch in the spa café in the central atrium. Try soups, salads, sandwiches, sweet treats and nibbles, alongside hot and cold drinks, juices, milkshakes and smoothies.
For dinner, you need to dress and dine in the main house. Again, it's a three-course dinner. We tried the tuna steak which was delicious and even indulged in a white-chocolate and ginger dessert.
We loved / we didn't love
The location: In a quiet dip in the lowland countryside, Stobo's scenery is glorious. Take time to explore the grounds, including the Japanese Water Garden.
The little seating areas spread around the spa: You can pause and take stock in the drawing room, atrium, relaxation room, in the hanging chairs, by the treatment rooms… Pause and enjoy your day.
The engaged and enthusiastic staff: Everyone we met was positive and helpful. Happy staff lead to happy customers.
We didn't love
Some of the thermal facilities are beginning to show their age; specifically the steam room in the Ladies Health Suite and the hydrotherapy pool. We understand that Stobo keeps reinvesting in its facilities so these might be next on the list.
The lack of men's thermal facilities: It's great to have so many experience on offer to women, but it felt a little sad that I could enjoy all the rooms but my partner was left to sit and wait outside.
Who do you think would like it?
Walkers and runners: The surroundings are truly lovely. We went for a run around the hills and lochs which was exhausting but definitely worthwhile. Stobo also has lots of fitness facilities, including exercise classes and guided walks.
Friends and small groups: There's so much on offer at Stobo that you can stay together for lunch but split up and enjoy the facilities before meeting for a quick swim or bubble in the hot tubs.
Single spa-goers would love the big treatment menu and the quiet spaces to sit and think.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We once again awarded Stobo Castle a Good Spa Guide rating of 5 bubbles. The setting is beautiful, the facilities extensive, and the staff friendly and helpful. If you want to escape to the country for a couple of spa days, Stobo Castle is a great choice.
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.