Whether you’re holed up in an historic castle feeling suitably smug or enjoying lunch in a hotel overlooking lush green fields, there’s something magical about a country retreat.
Add a decent spa – where you can bubble away in a hot tub, have your cares massaged away or emerge from a facial positively glowing – and you’ve got the icing on the cake.
Good Spa Guide (www.goodspaguide.co.uk) has identified five country retreats, each with highly-regarded spas, to help you plan your next getaway.
Stobo is a beautiful crenelated castle with a modern glass extension housing the spa. Check into the original building with its elegant bedrooms (think four-poster beds and marble bathrooms), drawing rooms with open fires and classic restaurant, before hopping over to the spa with its modern-fronted glass atrium proving that old and new can live together harmoniously.
Bring your togs for the spa’s highlight: Scotland’s only 25-metre ozone-treated pool where countryside views are afforded through full-height windows. Climb into one of three outdoor hot tubs — particularly romantic after sunset thanks to flickering candles — or try the steam room, the Swedish sauna or the hydro pool. After all that you may need to chill out in the relaxation area.
The treatment menu at Stobo is fit for a King or Queen, with over 80 treatments including facials, massages, manicures, pedicures, Indian head massages, Reiki, and treatments for men and mums-to-be. Brands such as Caudalie, NEOM and Thermae dominate the menu. For something less de rigeur, try a water massage or a mud treatment.
Gleneagles is as well-known as some of the guests that walk through its doors, thanks to its famous golf courses and Michelin-star restaurant, but did you know that it also has an excellent spa? You wouldn’t be the first.
Visitors come in their droves to enjoy the property’s King and Queen golf courses, the fine cuisine and the long list of outdoorsy pursuits, including shooting, fishing and falconry. Spend the morning in the glorious countryside before heading to the spa for a treatment or two.
The Spa at Gleneagles won our Best Spa in Scotland award last year and is simply divine. Gold- and bronze-tiled wet facilities are divided into separate journeys for men and women; explore the steam room, sauna and ice-fountains independently before re-uniting in the unisex hydro pool with bubbly jets and swan-neck fountain, perfect for pummelling away tense shoulders. Low-level lanterns and bamboo plants give the spa an oriental feel. The treatment menu offers everything from ESPA massages and facials to more holistic wellness consultations, traditional Chinese medicine and naturopathy.
Fairmont St Andrews
Another retreat made famous for its championship golf courses (Torrance and Kittocks), Fairmont St Andrews is a grand country retreat set in 520 acres of glorious Celtic countryside.
Views over the North Sea and Tay Estuary are only half the story with 209 spacious and charming rooms and suites, numerous dining options – from afternoon tea to locally-sourced Scottish steaks and seafood at the St Andrews Bar and Grill – and a clifftop spa inspired by land and sea. It even claims a sprinkle of Celtic love (ahh!).
After a day of hiking, playing golf or exploring the local area (the iconic St Andrews Castle is just three miles away), head to the Spa at Fairmont St Andrews to enjoy a range of enviable facilities, including a 16-metre pool surrounded by loungers, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, gym and exercise studios.
The treatment menu has a natural and organic vibe with massages, facials, and body therapies from Aromtherapy Associates and Scottish brand Ishga, or beauty treats from OPI.
Isle of Eriska
Set on a private island just north of Oban, the tranquil Isle of Eriska Hotel offers pretty much everything you could want for a real getaway. Magical views of Loch Linnhe and the majestic Morvern mountains are just the start; keep your eyes peeled for otters and grey seals regularly padding ashore.
The hotel is elegant and traditional with open fires, Art Deco flourishes and libraries filled with classic books. Active types will feel at home with sailing, fishing, walking or mountain biking on offer; for a gentler pace, try croquet on the lawn or a game of tennis on an outdoor court.
Dine in the property’s the Michelin star restaurant – with its menu heavy on fish brought straight in from the loch — or enjoy a spa treatment on a craggy hilltop, marvelling at the views below. The Stables Spa has a pretty spa garden, five treatment rooms, a large indoor pool, and a bubbly hydrotherapy pool.
Loch-side Cameron House is a grand baronial country house with sweeping views over Loch Lomond. The traditional hotel has a Michelin-star restaurant, championship-standard golf course and a modern spa. High ceilings and full-height windows throughout the hotel and spa make the most of the spectacular scenery.
The spa is in a separate building about two miles away from the hotel; tell the concierge when you want to go and a shuttle will be arranged. Inside the modern building you’ll find a 20-metre swimming pool, bubbly Jacuzzi, 17 treatment rooms and a variety of heat and ice experiences, including a traditional wooden sauna.
The views from the rooftop pool the real highlight; several storeys up you’re almost guaranteed to get a full eyeful of Loch Lomond and the surrounding hills. Swim to the edge, rest your arms on the side and take it all in.
ESPA and Carita are the products of choice here with facials, massages and manicures/pedicures, or try the rasul or Vichy shower treatments.