Gleneagles, Scotland: Enjoying the tranquility of the adults-only spa in Perthshire

Sam Lewis tries out The Spa by ESPA, a tranquil treasure trove of dimly lit heat rooms Monday, 10 August 2015

By Sam Lewis

The mini dressing gowns and slippers for children brought me out in a cold sweat. Kids can (occasionally) be well behaved and (sometimes) quiet, but in my opinion, little people and spas don't mix.

Hats off, then, to whoever decided to have a separate spa area for adults, with a 20-metre pool you can actually swim laps in. All hotel guests have access to this sleek pool, which is adjacent to some heat rooms, plus another pool where parents with kids can happily splash around (without worrying about disapproving frowns from people like me).

Most guests head here, if only to swim through a door that leads to a bubbling alfresco hydropool area. Open to the elements, come rain, snow or shine, it's here you'll find guests discussing their round of golf, game of tennis, or close encounter with one of the hotel's horses.

With two championship golf courses, indoor tennis and an equestrian centre, countless country pursuits and Scotland's only two Michelin-star restaurant, it's a wonder that any guest has the time to relax in the spa, but if you only get the chance to visit once, be sure to book a treatment.

This gives you a day pass to the adjacent The Spa by ESPA, a tranquil treasure trove of dimly lit heat rooms where walls glitter and lights twinkle and guests quietly wander as if in a trance. Spend time in the crystal steam room and hot sauna cabin, take a dip in the sleek hydropool, with fountains and underwater jets, or simply relax in the rather fancy relaxation room, sipping free, on-tap elderflower water.

But whatever you do, set aside time to select a treatment from the spa menu (the 32-page tome is one of the largest and most innovative around) and book your treatment before you check in. In fact, book it when you reserve your room, as you may want to arrange your stay around the therapists (yes, they're that good).

I enjoyed a sports massage to ease tight muscles following golf and showjumping lessons, but my advice is to try something different. Led by skilled naturopathic practitioner, Louise Westra, the team includes a skilled acupuncturist, physiotherapist and wellness practitioner. Some treatments include traditional Chinese Medicine elements, including a combination of acupuncture, massage, moxibustion (burning Chinese herbs) and cupping (using heated cups to improve blood flow). Other treatments embrace ayurvedic, reiki and reflexology techniques.

For those who've indulged too much the night before (the food and wine are so good it's hard not to), there's an abdominal detox, while golfers have their very own tonic, involving a hot stone massage while feet are enveloped in a paraffin wax mask.

And while therapists may not be kilt-clad like the doormen, some treatments use muslin-wrapped herbal infusions made from ingredients sourced from the nearby Scottish countryside. Combined with the beautiful Perthshire setting, outdoor activities and a daily timetable of classes that include yoga and t'ai chi, this resort is certain to help relax your mind, body and soul.

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