With its dramatic landscapes, majestic lochs and historic castles, Scotland has been dealt a pretty good hand when it comes to scenery. Add some of the world’s best golf courses, cultural cities and fresh bounty and you’ve got a first-class (and currently sanctioned) break. But what of its spas? Are they all skirt (and no underwear) or designed to leave you feeling lighter, brighter and bonnier? Read on…
A short stroll from the historic university town of St Andrews, The Old Course Hotel’s piece de resistance is its golf course, with the world’s trickiest par 4 shot at hole 17. The spa – the only Kohler of its kind outside the US - is far from duff.
Time-rich guests should try the all-day immersion in mineral-rich waters or a signature massage in one of 13 treatment rooms. Rainy days should be spent swimming lengths in the 20-metre indoor swimming pool; fair weather languishing in the rooftop hot tub is a must. The fitness centre is worth donning your sweats for; be sure to work up a good appetite for lunch in the spa café, or wait until dinner and boggle your taste buds with the choice of six restaurants/bars.
As highland flings go, Gleneagles is all brilliance - and no bagpipes. Hole up in front of the fire in the tartan-clad drawing room or adorn a pair of Hunters and try your hand at clay pigeon shooting, horse riding, archery or fishing. There’s also a Championship golf course and a two-Michelin-starred restaurant (below).
The spa is worth the schlep alone: de-stress in a garden courtyard with its glass roof and open fire, heat up in one of several thermal experiences (think Crystal Steam Room, Hot Sauna Cabin), relax your shoulders under swan neck fountains in the vitality pool or take lunch in the spa café with its focus on superfoods. Treatments go beyond the norm with Acupuncture, Abdominal Detoxes, Cranial-Sacral Therapy (don’t ask), Colon Therapy, Reiki and Reflexology on the menu.
A must for city-slickers, The Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa is just steps away from Edinburgh’s bustling heart, with its cobbled streets, credit-card-abusing shopping and world dining options. Ask for a room with a castle view (below) for urban heaven. Dinner in the glass-encased One Square Brasserie followed by a drink on the terrace of the eye-poppingly colourful One Square Bar is de rigeur.
After a day pounding the streets there’s no better tonic than a bubble in the One Spa’s indoor/outdoor rooftop hydro pool complete with city vistas. There’s a beautiful indoor pool too, and a large thermal suite based on Celtic and Roman spa facilities. Nourish your skin in the Aroma Grotto aromatherapy herbal steam or purify your body in the rock sauna.
Sitting pretty at the end of a long tree-lined driveway, with open fields on either side, Norton House offers the perfect romantic spa getaway just 20 minutes from Edinburgh. Rooms are a good blend of old and new; dining is award-winning yet hearty, with photo-worthy plates created using the local larder. On clement days, channel your inner Camomile Lawn and take alfresco afternoon tea with (Champers?) overlooking the green.
The health club is as vast as it is well-thought-out, with an exhaustive list of facilities including the wet (indoor pool, hydro pool, experience showers), the hot (steam room, sauna) and the healthy (exercise studio, full schedule of classes). Treatments are courtesy of spa powerhouse Elemis and Scottish hero ishga, with seaweed featuring heavily on the menu.
Luxury hotel group Fairmont has created its own destination in the land of golf, with access to two golf courses offering breathtaking cliff-top views of the North Sea. And if the setting wasn’t enough, the rooms, dining options and service are all second to none. Don't miss dinner at the St Andrews Grill with its sweeping bay views.
The locally-inspired Fairmont Spa Andrews spa will delight even the most avid pamper-lover with its 16-metre indoor pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. Ishga, Aromatherapy Associates, Caudalie and OPI magic happens in 20 tartan-clad treatment rooms. Full-spectrum fitness is possible at The Fairmont St Andrews leisure centre with diagnosis’ available for the brave.
White pillars, arched windows, polished marble floors and a grand piano set the scene for The Kimpton on Glasgow’s leafy Blythswood Square. Rooms - in muted grey tones and tan leathers - provide respite from the city’s buzz; borrow a bicycle – complete with basket and flowers – and do Glasgow in style. Don’t leave without eating at the hotel’s eponymous Bo & Birdy Brasserie, with its spectacular oval bar and leather banked seating.
At 10,000sq ft, the spa is unusually roomy for an urban offering with distinctive lilac mood-lighting, bubbling hydro pool, thermal area, treatment rooms (of which there are nine) and a gym.We love the imaginative treatment menu offering Hebridean seaweed wraps and holistic facials (the spa pioneered detoxifying seaweed baths in 2010), and the spa café which is healthy with a dollop of indulgence.