Gleneagles has a reputation for excellent Scottish hospitality, dramatic landscapes and impeccable design – and it absolutely lives up to the rumours. Play a round at the King’s or Queen’s golf courses, take lunch at the Michelin starred restaurant and then spend the afternoon drifting in the sublime spa. The gold and bronze wet facilities are separated into individual journeys for men and women, so explore the steam, sauna and ice fountains before meeting up with your spa companion in the unisex vitality pool. There’s a dreamy dark relaxation room and 20 treatment rooms to experience ESPA therapies, mindfulness and wellness experiences.
Indulgent changing rooms with large power showers and heated limestone floors
Crystal Steam Room
Hot Sauna Cabin
Artic mist showers
Courtyard Garden with glass roof and gently flickering fire
Vitality pool with massaging swan necked fountains
Deseo at The Spa, our Spa’s exclusive café
In house naturopath, physiotherapist and TCM practitioner
Acupuncture and colon hydrotherapy
Our Spa Spy review
It may look like a French chateau, but Gleneagles is a grand and luxurious hotel in Scotland just north of Edinburgh. It offers wonderful food, elegant rooms, and lots of outdoor pursuits including golf, shooting, fishing, falconry, riding, and even off-road driving.
We drove up the long drive, past all the golfing activities, and rather elegant men in kilts greeted us, promptly took our luggage, and parked the car.
What's on offer?
The huge wooden spa doors with a silver embossing hide the spa and keep it peaceful. Pass the threshold into the spacious spa reception and you enter a world dedicated to calm and relaxation. The design is elegant, with limestone flooring and shining wood.
Many of the facilities at Gleneagles are single-sex, so if you go with your significant other of the opposite sex, you are likely to spend part of the day apart. The spa journey takes you through the changing rooms, directly into the single-sex heat experiences and relaxation areas, on to the mixed-sex hydrotherapy pool, and through to the spa courtyard. The spa has gold and bronze tiles and low lighting to create a restful atmosphere.
The changing rooms are very cleverly designed with lockers divided into three bays. Each bay has full-size lockers, a vanity unit with well-lit mirrors and hairdryers, plus cushioned stools and a circular seating area in the middle. This means you can often find an empty bay to change in. For the shy, there are two private changing cubicles. The three large showers are big enough to have hooks for clothes within them. All are well stocked with ESPA shower gel, shampoo and conditioner.
The heat experiences include a large crystalsteam room, a traditional wooden sauna(both would comfortably seat eight or nine people), two experience showers that offer cool peppermint or warm tropical settings, and an ice fountain.
The relaxation room is dark and rich. The 16 comfortable beds each have a large V-shaped pillow and warm blanket. Gauze curtains around each bed add privacy and the lighting is low, so you can snooze if you wish. If you prefer to read, you get your own spotlight, and personal headphones so you can select your own music. Help yourself to hot and cold drinks and snacks of dried fruit, nuts and seeds, and home-made granola bars.
The hydro-pool would comfortably seat seven or eight people. It has a bubbly air bed, a strong swan pipe, and two massage chairs where you sit and let the wonderfully warm water lap over you. Around the edge of the pool are four heated tepidarium beds.
Out in the spa courtyard, light streams in through the glass section of the roof. It's a restful space with relaxing music and a strong Japanese feel, with a shallow water pool, lanterns at floor level, and bamboo plants. Settle down on a recliner with a fluffy throw while waiting for your treatment.
Tell us about the treatments
My first treatment, the Oriental Ritual (110 minutes, £190), was with Katherine, who is Gleneagles' Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapist.
Katherine conducted a very thorough consultation, going over my health history, lifestyle, and treatment preferences. She decided that I would benefit from massage, cupping and acupuncture.
Katherine started with the massage, working her way along my arms and into my shoulder joints, lifting and moving my limbs as she went, loosening them and working on the knots. It was a pleasure to feel my body unwinding as she worked; this was an exceptionally good massage.
Next up was the cupping. Katherine filled the glass "cups" with hot air, placed them on my skin over acupuncture points, and twisted to form a vacuum. Cupping is thought to initiate the body's own healing system by creating a minor "insult" so the body pushes more blood to the area to help it heal. I expected the cups to be hot, but they remain cool. Katherine left the cups on for a couple of minutes then removed them.
For the acupuncture, Katherine placed needles into my back and feet, then I rested for 10 minutes. There was a distinct warm sensation from one of the needles in my back, going down along my right leg. Katherine suggested that the "chi" -- the energy that acupuncture stimulates -- was beginning to flow.
The session finished with more wonderful massage and at the end of the treatment I felt very uplifted and positive.
Allana, my therapist for the Espa Optimal Pro Facial (80 minutes, £110) began with a consultation and careful review of my skin under the Espa skin lamp. She opened the pores using warm steam, then used the Clarisonic brushing device to deep cleanse. Allana smothered my face with a hydrating mask, and massaged my feet, arms and scalp. She removed the mask and added a layer of serum as a finishing touch. By the end of the treatment, my skin tone was evened out and was glowing with health.
My spa partner had an Espa Mindful Massage (80 minutes, £130) with Emma. He was sceptical about the guided breathing and visualisation, but did enjoy them. He felt the extra 20 minutes of treatment time made it much more effective.
The Spa at Gleneagles offers an unusual range of treatments including a range of Ayurvedic and TCM treatments. If you're a massage junkie, try Purva Karma (120 minutes, £245) where two therapists work together to massage you. The spa also offers facials, traditional massages, wraps and body treatments, as well as treatments specifically for men and for mums-to-be. They also have physiotherapists, naturopaths and wellness practioners on their "Espa Life" programmes. These lifestyle programmes can be tailored to meet your specific needs, or you can book the complementary therapies as part of your spa day.
The spa has its own café called Deseo at the Spa. Here they serve breakfast, lunch, drinks and snacks. They also offer a complete vegan menu, and dishes for people with food allergies such as lactose intolerance and coeliacs.
For lunch, I tried a warming pumpkin soup while my spa partner had smoked salmon with egg and avocado. We also tried the "raw" chocolate cake devised by the Gleneagles naturopath. Despite having little or no sugar, it tasted wonderfully indulgent.
Grand evening food in the elegant Strathearn dining room is worth dressing up for. The menu offers seasonal local foods and a rather grand trolley wheeled to the table offering a traditional roast. Don't miss the puddings! The Grand Marnier soufflé with hot chocolate sauce was heavenly.
We loved / we didn't love
The attention to detail that has gone into the design of the spa: a peaceful, elegant space that is warm and fragrant.
The serenity and sense of privacy: Even on a busy day, the design of the spa means it never feels crowded.
The very special treatments: Longer than average treatment times allow for careful personalisation of the treatments and maintain an air of calm and peace in the spa. Expert, skilled therapists offer impressively delivered treatments.
The Pilates classes. We had a one-to-one session with Kirsty who is a Pilates instructor and physiotherapist. Her calm and forgiving training helped us complete exercises we didn’t think possible.
We didn't love
The single-sex heat experiences may disappoint anyone who has planned a romantic spa trip à deux.
The fact that it is a long way from GSG HQ. If it was closer, we would be regulars at Gleneagles.
Who do you think would like it?
Anyone who needs some TLC: The wellbeing treatments are special. My TCM therapist helped me feel that the recovery programme I have been following after an accident has been effective, and suggested treatments that would complement my usual exercise programme.
Anyone who wants a real treat: Gleneagles offers luxury with a capital L. Perfect for a birthday or anniversary as you can have delicious food, excellent service in the grand but friendly hotel, and a brilliant spa day as well.
Families: The main pool area next to the spa has a large shallow pool and an outside hot pool with water jets; great for children. It also has a separate 20-metre adults-only lap pool. There are two changing rooms: one with a playpen and changing table, the other upstairs for adults only.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We awarded The Spa at Gleneagles a Good Spa Guide rating of 5 Bubble Luxury. The spa is very well designed and well run; the staff work hard to keep customers happy and relaxed. The treatments are well thought-out and beautifully delivered, and the food is fantastic. What more could one ask for?
Hospitality is the heart of the Gleneagles experience. Four restaurants set the highest culinary standards, including Scotland's only two Michelin stars in Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles. Elegant bars and public spaces encourage intimate conversation and quiet contemplation.
There are 232 rooms in the hotel, including 26 sumptuous luxury suites. Each room is individual in design and layout, with the amenities and thoughtful touches expected of a five red star resort. Guests can choose a traditional or modern approach to interior design.
Spa Opening Hours: Daily from 8.30am to 7.30pm
Spa Treatment Hours: Daily from 9am to 7pm