When you’re in need of a bit of a rest, there are few places that rise to the challenge quite like Gleneagles, as Holly Maxwell-Stevenson and her mum found out!
Perfection. The word popped into my head as we drove up the meandering drive, and it stayed with me for the duration of our stay. As you come into Gleneagles you are greeted by stunning scenery, a vision of green. The building itself is stunning and you would be forgiven for thinking you were stepping into a medieval castle. Not only that, but what better Scottish greeting than a man in a kilt at the door?
You could wander around the hotel and its grounds for days and still feel you hadn’t covered every area. Gleneagles is magical in that sense, but still feels extremely manageable. The hotel, whilst being big and busy, has an air of tranquility and you feel as if you have so much space you are in a little bit of paradise. Everything is traditional, from the décor to the staff uniforms and the falconry school. It’s all so grand I felt like a princess in my castle. If it’s grand enough to host a G8 summit and next year’s Ryder Cup, I suppose it’ll do for little old me…
The Spa at Gleneagles is a little hideaway that oozes calm from the moment you walk in. Sarah who greeted us there even had a voice which was slightly hypnotizing and made my shoulders loosen.
We got a thorough tour of all the spa facilities, laid out in a circular format so it was very easy to know where to go. The key with the spa is to make the most of it by having plenty of time. Hours. There are saunas, hydro pools which massage your neck, and my personal favourite, the scented showers. You could choose either cold peppermint or warm tropical and soak your skin, rinsing away every tension.
The changing room facilities are the best I’ve seen. We were allocated our own lockers and given a gown and slippers that were refreshed whenever slightly damp by attentive staff. All products were ESPA, and were in plentiful supply. You were even able to use any testers of face creams and body lotions when you were getting ready after your treatment.
I had the 55-minute ‘Mankind’ massage, focusing on the neck, back, calves and feet. From the moment I met Ania I knew I was in safe hands. She let me choose my oils by asking how I wanted to feel after my massage, and what scents I like, making for a personal experience. A quirky extra which really stood out was an inhalation ball, a scented ball I took deep breaths beside to help me relax.
The massage itself was wonderful, but it’s all the things Gleneagles do differently which make it a cut above. Ania paid particular attention to the tension in my neck and shoulders and really made a difference. Once my massage was over, my therapist brought me a drink of elderflower water and wrote a personalised note telling me exactly what she did and used products she recommended. Unlike most places, there was zero pressure to purchase; it was purely done to inform me of how to get the most out of the experience.
I was then taken to the Relaxation Room with my own heated bed, relaxing sound system and unlimited access to a vast array of dried fruits and calming teas … It truly was the perfect way to end a perfect treatment. Some might consider the £90 price tag expensive but as I say, you can make it part of a full day’s activity.
Gleneagles is bursting with places to eat, all of different prices and cuisines. I ate in their main restaurant, the Strathearn. At dinner they have the choice of either a three course (£60) or four course (£70) menu. A live pianist set a relaxed and glamorous tone for the evening. The head chef is Andrew Fairlie, who’s world-renowned with his two Michelin Stars. A wine expert can help you decide on the perfect plonk and all the staff are exceptionally well trained and helpful, without being intrusive. Our server, Norbert, was outstanding. I had my main course cooked at the table and flambéed, as did my mum. The cheese board is definitely something I’d recommend for desert, with a trolley that has over 25 cheeses to choose from … and you can have them all if you fancy! No one could accuse Norbert of not knowing his cheeses. The chocolate fondant, 76% cocoa, is obviously a must if you love chocolate as much as I do.
I was also lucky enough to experience breakfast the following morning in the same restaurant. £38 is the set price and with an extensive buffet and menu, you could spend all morning eating Scottish smoked salmon, fillet steak, waffles, or whatever you want cooked to order. What is worth noting is that all types of coffee and tea are included, as are a vast array of alcoholic drinks, if you fancy an early start. I’d go to Gleneagles purely for the breakfast!
Gleneagles is a small village about 15 minutes from Perth, secluded yet accessible in the heart of the Scottish countryside. If you decide to explore other areas of Scotland, you have Glasgow only an hour away. You can arrive by car or by train, as Gleneagles has its very own train station a few minutes walk from the hotel.
– Time is key at Gleneagles. Allow plenty of time before your spa treatment, breakfast and even exploring the hotel. You’d hate to go away thinking ‘if only I’d seen…”
– If you’re staying for breakfast remember to order your lattes and champagne – it’s all included!
– They have a fantastically priced nail bar and hair and beauty salon. What better way to treat yourself before or after the spa?
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