With clean air, soul-inspiring scenery, and water that’s good enough for whisky-making, Scotland could almost be a giant spa unto itself.
The country is well connected with four main and several regional airports - including in the highlands, plus handy rail links (perfect for reuniting friends and hens, we say).
There’s an itinerary to suit everyone. Culture, history and chic shopping await visitors to Scotland’s seven cities, while dramatic castles, hills, wild coastal trails and fascinating islands will put the wind in your hair and a spring in your step.
Scotland has seen a quiet farm-to-fork revolution in recent years, with restaurants and artisan producers opting to showcase local, seasonal and fresh ingredients. The seafood is awesome.
And when you’ve feasted your eyes and sated your appetite, it’s time to treat your senses with a spa break. Whether you’re looking for a city spa hotel, a rambling retreat, something big or something boutique, Scotland has a spa experience to leave you feeling lighter, brighter and bonnier. And the fresh air is always free.
As Scotland’s only five bubble luxury spa Gleneagles has a reputation for excellent Scottish hospitality, dramatic landscapes and impeccable design – and it absolutely lives up to the rumours. Gleneagles offers luxury with a capital L. It’s perfect for anyone who wants a special treat as you can indulge in delicious food (two Michelin-starred restaurant), excellent service and professional spa treatments in incredible surrounds. Gleneagles is equally appealing for those who need some TLC thanks to its special wellness treatments led by naturopaths, TCM practitioners, physiotherapists and wellness practitioners.
Wallow for a weekend in a real Scottish castle, on an estate owned in turns by landed gentry, a judge, a baronet, a cricketer and a countess. Stobo Castle is Scotland’s only destination spa: with spa facilities including a crystal steam room, 25-metre ozone pool and vast array of spa treatments - all of which helped secure its five-bubble rating from our discerning Spa Spies.
Be sure to take someone you love on this getaway: this 200-year-old castle in the Scottish Borders is seriously romantic, especially when the sun goes down over the hills. There’s also sunrise to savour during a dawn walk through the Japanese Water Gardens.
We love the country romance of Norton House Hotel to the west of Edinburgh. Glide across the walled garden to the hotel’s purpose-built spa; its super-modern glass structure belies a restful inner ambience. Enjoy an aromatic body massage or soothing facial then drift away in post-treatment tranquillity in the softly lit relaxation room.
If you’re only passing by, the spa at Norton House Hotel offers excellent day spa day packages. This is a spa which represents great value for money in a truly lovely setting.
Luxury hotel group Fairmont has created a destination in its own right in the land of golf, with access to two golf courses, a spa, dining options, and breath-taking cliff-top views of the North Sea.
So much about this locally inspired spa is delightful: the location, the views, and the range of treatments. The ground floor spa comprises a 16-metre indoor pool with loungers, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. Three miles away from St Andrews Castle, University and Cathedral, Fairmont makes a great base for exploring all that Fife has to offer.
Do you enjoy a local twist to your treatments? The ishga range at Glasgow’s City Centre Spa at Blythswood Square uses Hebridean seaweed to pamper your skin, Scottish-style. The Spa strikes a happy balance between hosting hotel residents and spa-goers, allowing everyone to have a peaceful, pampering and relaxing day. We’re impressed by the large and imaginative treatment menu - featuring luxurious and holistic face and full body treatments.
While you’re in town be sure to schedule in a spot of retail therapy. Glasgow is home to Scotland’s ‘mini Milan’, (The Italian Centre includes the UK’s first Versace shop), while Prince’s Square brings designer names, boutiques and chic bars under one heaven-gazing Art Nouveau roof.
Just a short chip away from the historic university town of St Andrews (where Wills and Kate fell in love), the Old Course Hotel is an AA five-star establishment boasting the first Kohler spa experience outside of the USA.
Kohler is a global player in designing dreamy bathrooms and you’ll find one on a super-spa scale at the Old Course Hotel. Described as providing “wellbeing around every corner”, the Kohler Waters Spa offers escapism on tap, with water-inspired treatment rooms, a 20-metre swimming pool with cascading waterfall, and a rooftop hot tub and spa garden.
There aren't many places where you can enjoy views of the surrounding Scottish mountains from a tepidarium, and watch birds fly past from a rooftop infinity pool, but this is one of them…
Cameron House is a traditional hotel on the shores of Loch Lomond. Its spa is a little journey away at the Carrick estate, but offers a complete spa and thermal suite for hotel guests and day-spa visitors alike. It's a spacious spa, with neutral earthy colours and curved walls being key themes throughout. We love the large circular hydrotherapy pool with its countryside views.
Editors note - this article was originally published in November 2014, it was updated and re-written for accuracy and comprehensiveness in October 2018