Scotland - Home of Europe's Best Spas

by Robin.McKelvie

If you're a confirmed spa fanatic, take advantage of the de-stressing opportunities on offer in Scotland, which now boasts an array of world-class spa hotels

If you're reading this feeling stressed out or just a bit tired of hectic modern living, then help is on hand. Just book into one of Scotland’s many fine spa hotels and you will soon be lazed out on a massage table forgetting all your troubles and having every single stress and minor worry gently eased from your body. That's before they even start on the facial, Qi treatment or exfoliating rubs that are all part of the spa experience in a destination that is quickly becoming the place to escape the rigours of modern life.

Just a short stroll away from Edinburgh’s Waverley Station is the Scotsman Hotel. It used to be the grand old headquarters of the Scotsman newspaper, but today the stressed-out journos and madcap editors have been replaced by chilled-out guests floating between their rooms, via stunning views of the Edinburgh skyline, and the state-of-the-art spa that ensures any stay at the Scotsman is a chilled-out experience. The Scotsman’s Escape Health Club is an ultra-modern complex open to all hotel guests, and the 16-metre swimming pool is one of the largest in central Edinburgh. The Cowshed Spa offers a wide range of treatments, from standard massages and aromatherapy treatments through to facials, acupuncture and reflexology.

An hour’s drive north brings us to the multi-award-winning Espa spa at Gleneagles Hotel. The range of spa treatments is extensive, with traditional massage, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, facials and waxing. Gleneagles was also the first spa in Scotland to offer the Shiseido Qi massage, which involves harnessing the body’s Qi energy. One nice touch is the special treatments for those hard-to-please sophisticated teenage children.

Only a leisurely 15-minute drive away is Crieff Hydro, the grand old dame of the Scottish spa scene, purpose-built back in 1868. The four-star hotel itself is nothing special, but the spa offers massages, facials and cleansing treatments, with the highlight the excellent value three-hour ‘Soothing Experience Package’. Look out for the adults-only Victorian spa, with its heated pool, sauna spa bath and fitness suite that utilise to full effect the grandeur of the 19th-century building. Day packages for non-guests are very reasonable.

A more recent addition to the Scottish spa scene has been the Fairmont St Andrews, less than an hour’s drive away. The spa has recently been given a £2.5 million makeover and is now a serious spa oasis using Kerstin Florian products. It's also one of the few hotel spas in Scotland using the British Elemis range of products. One unusual treatment is the Golfer’s Massage, which focuses on muscles strained on the hotel’s own courses.

An older luxury spa in St Andrews is at the world-famous Old Course Hotel. The Kohler Waters Spa here complements the existing first-rate golf course and leisure facilities. Treatments include traditional massage, algae wraps, pedicures and a dedicated massage for golfers. They also have a funky range of special showers and water treatments. After a dip in the 20-metre swimming pool, guests can even take it easy in the rooftop tot tub.

Also world-famous is the Turnberry Hotel in Ayrshire, right across on the opposite coastline from the others, which also has a first-class spa. The revamped spa centre reopens in summer 2009 for the British Golf Open and will boast the same views out across the wild coastline as its predecessor. Therapies include detoxes, prenatal treatments, facials, reflexology and body polishes. Day guest programs are available, and include a light lunch.

Right now you may be at home after a hard and hassled day at work. If you want to escape it all, forget drowning your sorrows in the pub or trying an expensive escape abroad. Instead, pop to Scotland and soon you will be having some relaxing essential oil rubbed in to your aching limbs by the expert hands of a massage therapist at one of the country's top luxury spa hotels, retreats that provide the ideal antidote to the strains of modern living.



As a full time travel writer and photographer for over a decade I have visited over 90 countries. Over 3,000 of my articles have appeared in 100+ magazines and newspapers in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, UAE and the USA including the Daily Mail, IOS, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Scotsman, Sunday Herald, National Geographic, BA Highlife, CNN Traveller, Wanderlust, Sky Travel, TNT and Emirates Open Skies. I am also the author of travel guides to Bermuda, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Scotland for the likes of Berlitz, Bradt, Dorling Kinderlsey, Insight and Thomas Cook and have contributed to many others, as well as writing for the Internet. I write monthly travel pages in Highland Life and easyJet, as well as doing TV and a regular travel slot on BBC Radio Scotland. My photographs have been published with my copy and independently in 100+ outlets and my current stock is over 30,000 35mm transparencies and over 35,000 digital shots. For more information on me please see or my dedicated Scottish travel website