And relax!

Banish pre-wedding tension with a luxurious spa treatment

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The Carrick at Cameron House offers a wonderful array of stress-busting treatments.

Words by Beth Forsyth and Sarah Gillespie

The Carrick Spa at Cameron House, Loch Lomond

Much effort was required to persuade my other half that driving me to the Carrick Spa was a good idea. While I had a blissful series of treatments planned, I suggested he could visit the gym. Turns out he was none too enthused at the thought of a Saturday-morning workout. But then we walked into the spa and our jaws dropped: walls of cascading water, sumptuous interiors and white fluffy robes – and that was just the reception. I nipped off for an amazing salt and oil scrub (£49) with a much-needed shoulder, neck and scalp massage (£49) and express facial (£49), then retreated to the deep-red-lit relaxation room while I awaited his return (at which point he treated me to a 15-minute gush about how the exercise machines had iPod docks and Sky Sports). We then hit the thermal experience – hopping from hammam steam room to hydrotherapy pool as if we were perfectly au fait with the high life. Ending the day in the rooftop infinity pool with its unbelievable views of the Trossachs was the highlight of the best Saturday ever. (SG)
01389 713659, www.cameronhouse.co.uk

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Chilling out at the blissful Relaxation Room at the Guerlain Spa in Edinburgh.

Guerlain Spa at the Caledonian Waldorf Astoria

Guerlain’s Institut de Beauté on the Champs-Elysées in Paris is consistently voted one of the world’s best spas – but if my experience is anything to go by, its Scottish little sister is hot on its heels. My ears, scalded by the skirl of a too-loud piper outside nearby Haymarket station, are quickly soothed by the dulcet tones of pan pipes as I’m ushered into a cosy hidey-hole decked out in swish leather recliners. As I get comfy in the plushest of robes, my therapist Louise takes me on a fragrance journey to choose the signature Guerlain scent that will fill the air throughout the two-and-a-half-hour Bridal Bliss experience (£299). It’s just one of a clutch of new treatments at the spa aimed at brides-to-be with the simple objective of pampering and de-stressing. It’s mission accomplished, as after a full-body polish, muscle-melting massage, Radiance Refresher facial and Leighton Denny manicure and pedicure (using long-lasting LonGELity polish), not only is my skin utterly radiant and silky to the touch, but I feel buoyed enough to take on even Kimye’s wedding planning (had they not got hitched already). (BF)
0131 222 8836, www.thecaledonian.waldorfastoria.com

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The quirky treatments at the Lush Spa are great for the mind and body.

Lush Spa, Edinburgh

Walking down the stairs from Lush’s bright, colourful Princes Street shop to the spa below is like being transported from central Edinburgh to another world. In a room designed to replicate the Lush founder’s kitchen, I’m instantly put at ease, sitting at a massive wooden table, surrounded by cute flower-filled jam jars and mismatched retro furniture. I’ve opted for The Spell (£55), which targets both mind and body. My therapist Danielle gives me a piece of parchment and a quill to write a worry on, and together we make it disappear by setting it alight. In the treatment room, relaxing music composed for each individual treatment soothes me into serenity, while my worries float away as I enjoy a foot mask and massage, and a temple and scalp massage. I’m talked through all the products used beforehand so I can recreate the experience at home – although without Danielle’s magic hands I’m not sure it’ll work! (SG)
0131 225 4688, www.lush.co.uk

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Norton House’s spa has eight treatment rooms, a full-size pool and hydro-pools.

Norton House Hotel, Edinburgh

Is there anything more fabulous than spending Sunday (traditionally my least-favourite day of the week) having a spa day with your best pal? My BFF and I mused this very question as we sat in white fluffy robes enjoying a two-course lunch and a glass of prosecco in the beautiful spa at Norton House (she was a good girl and chose a salad starter; I was naughty and plumped for a knickerbocker glory dessert). We were both looking forward to the new Ishga treatments – as a beauty geek I’d heard loads about the organic Scottish seaweed skincare brand – and we weren’t disappointed. I strained to stay awake during my super-relaxing Ishga invigorating massage (£68), but then was astonished when I sat up afterwards and felt like a light had gone on above my head. Turns out the awakeness I felt was quite common, with lots of clients reporting the same feelings of energy as the toxins left their body. My bestie loved the Ishga facial (£65), and both treatments were exactly what we needed after a summer of indulgence. We felt we’d given the steam room, sauna and hydro-pool our best shot, and the pitiful ‘laps’ of the swimming pool counted as our exercise, so we retreated to the relaxation room with some magazines and herbal tea. The dim lights and comfortable beds proved slightly too relaxing for one occupant, and smiles were exchanged all round as the sound of gentle snores filled the room. (SG)
0845 458 0904, www.handpickedhotels.co.uk/hotels/norton-house

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The treatment room at Mar Hall is the perfect place to relax after treatments

Mar Hall, Renfrewshire

Just a short drive from Glasgow, Mar Hall is often full of celebs visiting the city. While I was disappointed not to be reclining in the relaxation room next to Beyoncé, I got over it pretty quickly as I sampled the fantastic Decléor Aroma Time Precious Facial (£30) and the Decléor Aroma Back Relief (£30). Sounds good? The spa offers a tempting array of spa days and breaks that would be perfect for a girlie getaway with your ’maids and mum. (SG)
0141 812 9915, www.marhall.com/spa

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Soak up the vista and let your cares drift away in the pool at the Macdonald Marine Hotel

Macdonald Marine Hotel, North Berwick

I never sleep in, yet on the morning I’m due to visit the Macdonald Marine Hotel, I awake a mere 15 minutes before I’m due to meet my mum (who is accompanying me on today’s spa trip). The rush, not surprisingly, leaves me stressed. Shortly after arrival, I immerse myself in the hydrotherapy and heat experiences that form part of the spa’s impressive facilities. The heated outdoor jacuzzi and cascading fountain take priority, but it’s only after I’ve ticked off the rock sauna, dry sauna, ice rub, aromatherapy grotto and steam room that I begin to feel my cares drift away. There’s a pool and gym, but I’m going nowhere near those as the treatment room beckons! My therapist tells me that Elemis is now the main skincare brand across the hotel group’s 24 spa sanctuaries in the UK, so I plump for its Face and Body Sensation (from £60). It’s a dreamy duo of a thermal-soothing massage to ease tension and calm the mind and an anti-ageing facial that brightens up my slept-in skin and bleary eyes. What a treat! Spa packages from £45. (BF)
www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/spa-fitness/

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A treatment room at the Macdonald Marine Hotel

Top five spa tips

1. Arrive in plenty of time for your treatment. Rushing isn’t relaxing!
2. Don’t be frightened to ask questions about the facilities or to speak up about your preferences during treatments, such as massage pressure or skin concerns.
3. Leaving the products on your skin for as long as possible will ensure you get the maximum benefit from them.
4. Drink plenty of water after your treatment to stay hydrated.
5. Sign up for daily deal emails. Even the top spas use them and you can get some fab discounts!