Life

Scottish Hotels And Spas That Combine Culture And Comfort

While it’s fun to hit the road and see as much as you can in a short amount of time, find the best bars or restaurants, and pose at the perfect vistas for Insta, spending a day or more just relaxing with no phone or responsibilities is kind of the whole point of “vacation.” Makes sense, right? To that end, we’re calling out three great spas attached to three killer hotels in Scotland to take the edge off after all that restaurant hopping, whisky imbibing, and maybe a few too many rounds of golf around the country.

There are a lot of spa options if you’re touring Scotland, ranging from fancy hotel spas in the middle of bustling city centers to rural elite spas attached to some of the world’s best golf escapes (St. Andrews being the most luxe option there). We leaned into three spa/hotel picks that range from the main cities to the islands, giving you the best of Scotland’s city and country life.

While hitting a spa anywhere is always a rad play, hitting up a spa in Scotland does have its own luster. Thermal baths, unique massage therapy offerings, and seclusion are the main parameters I found as I toured the country this spring. From the seaweed to the wild florae, Scotland’s whole spa scene is geared towards “local” in every way. The Hebrides and rural Highlands are brimming with botanicals and salts that provide unique treatments native to Scotland.

One word of warning: Book far in advance if you want to actually get a treatment at one of the spas below. While you’ll be able to get a day pass for the big hotel spas (where you can swim, schvitz, and chill), most of the actual services are booked up a solid six to 12 (or more) weeks out. The spa industry in Scotland is still in recovery mode from both the pandemic and Brexit. There’s a pretty big shortage of staff at the moment. That rules out walk-ins even at the best spas around the country.

The Luxury City Escape — Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh

One Spa
Sheraton

The Hotel:

The Sheraton Grand Hotel & Spa is exactly where you want to be in Edinburgh. The whole center of the city is walkable from the hotel, making this the perfect home base. Moreover, the hotel is a higher-end Sheraton experience from check-in to your room to breakfast every morning. Standard rooms with king beds have spacious bathrooms with huge showers next to deep bathtubs. The beds are comfier than the usual corporate matrasses you get from big-name hotel brands, which is a nice step up.

But let’s be real, you’re not in Edinburgh to hang out at a Sheraton, however nice it may be. You’re there to hit the quaint pubs, amazing whisky bars, and tour one of the coolest castles in the world. And all of that is a stone’s throw from this place.

The Spa:

Where you will want to spend time on this property is the spa. One Spa is a destination onto itself and very popular with both locals and tourists. There’s the main pool area that overlooks the hotel’s courtyard below. It’ll be loud and likely pretty full of people, which is the opposite vibe of “chill.”

If you’re in relax mode, you’ll want to head up to the rooftop hydro pool (which is outdoors). A soak in the hot and salty water will take off the edge of a long flight to Scotland the moment you sink inside. Post up near one of the swan neck water jets for an aqua massage experience that’s both refreshing and invigorating. After that, you can hit up the Therman Suite where you’ll have a selection of six sauna experiences from classic steam to dry rock heat to low heat to one with pink Himalayan rock salt walls. 90-minute access to this area will cost $65 if you’re not staying at the hotel.

At this point, you’ll probably be ready for a spa treatment. Just make sure you’ve booked about three months in advance since this place is very popular with locals as well. You can also head over to NOW at One Spa for any grooming treatments you might need from full body waxing to laidback manicures and pedicures (again, book well in advance).

The Essential Treatment To Get:

There’s a bounty of massage treatments and facials at One Spa. If you’re more on the conservative side, a classic Back of Body Aromatherapy massage is the way to go. It focuses on really taking away the stress via essential oils gently massaged into your back only for about 40 minutes.

If you’re a bit more adventurous, think about a 25-minute full-body scrub with local salts and oils, the 55-minute intensive facial that utilizes local Scottish products, and the 80-minute Swedish full-body massage. Add in a steam before and after, and you’ll leave One Spa renewed and jet lag free.

Book Here.

The Hidden Gem — Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel, Glasgow

Kimpton Spa
Kimpton

The Hotel:

Kimpton Blythswood Square is a luxe property in the middle of Glasgow. It’s surprisingly secluded and truly feels like an escape inside the city. Part of that is due to a huge grassy square in front of the hotel, along with the generally swanky design of the place. The lobby and bar scene is a clash of mid-century, Belle Epoque, and modernism that really works.

When it comes to the rooms, you’ll be comfortable even though the standard rooms are on the small end. Again, you’re not in Glasgow to hang out in a hotel room. There’s a massive party scene literally outside of the door. That said, the rooms are nicely kitted out with soft beds, good bedclothes, and well-appointed bathrooms with high-end toiletries.

The Spa:

The Spa at Blythswood Square is a very popular destination for locals and hotel guests and is very purple (all the lighting and vibes lean into that color scheme). That means you’ll need to book your day pass at least a day before if you’re not staying at the hotel and an hour ahead of time if you are. If you are just planning to hang out, the spa has 10,000 sq. feet of space to do so.

Our recommendation would be to start with the Thermal Experience. This is a bit of a journey through hot steam rooms, ice-cold rooms and baths, dry heat, cold sauna, and more. The seven-stop experience is said to “increases blood flow, speeds up healing time, and improve your mood.” We can attest to the “improves your mood” portion of that promise. You will leave a hell of a lot happier than you came in, even if you don’t get a massage.

The Essential Treatment To Get:

You kind of do want to follow up the thermal experience with a massage though. The Ishga Invigorating Massage is 55 minutes of bliss ($105). The massage utilizes Ishga products that are made on the Outer Hebrides from wild seaweed and wild botanicals that grow out there. It’s kind of like getting massaged by Scotland’s wildest islands for an hour.

From there, you can get body scrubs that use the same locally sourced oils and salts, facials, and a litany of beauty treatments. Or you can go back through the Thermal Experience. Just make sure you book your spa treatments at least six weeks out.

Book Here.

The Full Getaway — The Machrie Hotel & Golf Links, Islay

Machrie
Machrie Links

The Hotel:

The Machrie is both intimate and stunning. The Islay resort is all about the golf course that’s nestled against a seven-mile-long sandy beach. That’s the stunning part. The actual hotel/resort has views that never end while offering seclusion and complete isolation (you will not have phone service, though there is WiFi in the main building). There are only 47 rooms and lodges on-site and each one is classic and fairly luxe. The beds are phenomenally soft — to the point that you won’t want to get out of them in the morning. Everything in the rooms is well-appointed and bright thanks to white-washed walls and big windows looking out toward the sea.

It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a good bar and restaurant at The Machrie that draws in locals looking for a high-end night out along with guests who are visiting the property to golf. The menu is mostly wild produce and seafood mixed with the best Islay lamb, Scottish beef, and a selection of Islay whisky that slaps.

The Spa:

The spa here isn’t a big luxury experience like the last two entries. This is intimate. There’s a small gym, a small dry sauna, and one or two massage rooms. What we’re looking at with this pick for this list is a collision of local culture with true escapism. This is where sandy beaches, first-class golf, and beloved Scotch whisky collide with real seclusion. You truly feel like you’re over the hills and far away when you arrive at The Machrie.

The Essential Treatment To Get:

Here’s the play, spend the day golfing and then walking that seven miles of stunning sandy beach, grab a seafood-centric meal with a flight of Islay whisky back at the main house, then get your sauna on to sweat it all out. Finally, head in for a long massage. Wash, rinse, repeat. The best part is that your phone won’t have service during any of this, meaning you can focus on the experience unfolding around you.

Here’s the thing, you need to book a massage when you book the hotel. There are only a few masseuses on all of Islay (I was told there are three total at the moment) and they all rotate between the properties around the small island. That means you can’t just stroll up to the front desk and expect to be on a table the same day. You need to plan far ahead, but that’s all part of the charm if you ask us.

Book Here.

More photos:

One Spa
Sheraton Edinburgh
One Spa
Sheraton Edinburgh
One Spa
Sheraton Edinburgh
Kimpton Spa
Kimpton
Kimpton Spa
Kimpton
Kimpton Glasgow
Kimpton
The Machrie
The Machrie
The Machrie
The Machrie
The Machrie
The Machrie
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