TTKS tries: The Spa at Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square

Not all spas are created equal, and one of Scotland’s finest is located amidst Edinburgh’s bustling city centre

Charlotte Square spa pool

Picture the nicest spa you’ve ever been to. Now imagine it has a younger, cooler cousin. You’re basically envisioning the spa at Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square. Formerly The Roxburghe Hotel, the entire venue was relaunched in late 2017 with a multimillion pound refurbishment and is now home to one of the country’s most heavenly places to unwind.

The interiors are straight out of a millennial Pinterest board – think succulents, subway tiles, apothecary jars and cheese plants – but this contemporary chicness doesn’t detract from the luxury spa experience, as fluffy robes and slippers, heated treatment beds and  customary chill-out music can still be ticked off your ‘best day ever’ list.

The spa’s low lighting and dark walls are a world away from the brightly lit, floor-to-ceiling windows you expect in this setting. It’s instantly obvious the spa would be the perfect place to relax the morning after the inaugural night of a hen weekend, when you’re all reaching for sunglasses and aren’t really up for being out in public.

The spa’s relaxation room

The spa is the first in Scotland to offer the award-winning OSKIA treatment range, and I tried out the Signature Glow facial. Using the British brand’s organic products, the treatment uses a combination of anti-aging and glow-inducing techniques to illuminate the skin.

My spa therapist Tara progressed through all the steps I was expecting: a double exfoliation, tone, oil, mask, serum and moisturiser, and even a few I wasn’t. During the mask, I almost dosed off while undergoing a toxin-draining facial – plus hand and arm – massage. However, the best was saved ’til last…

The treatment ended with a procedure called ‘Back to Reality’, where the OSKIA massage candle that had been burning in the background was dripped over my shoulders before some knots were worked out. If that’s reality, who needs to dream?

The treatment menu also includes treatments using Ishga products. It’s an organic Hebridean range infused with seaweed, so a perfect choice if you fancy sampling a Scottish brand that’s making waves.

Spa lunches can often struggle to leave an impact – has a club sandwich ever changed your life? – but the Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square’s fare was absolutely exceptional and rivalled the treatment as the highlight of the day.

Spa packages offer a choice of two courses from the lunch menu or the Twilight Tea, both served in a beautiful internal courtyard restaurant in the main part of the hotel. After the cocktail lounge lighting in the spa, The Garden’s verdant surroundings offer a different, more awakening, kind of relaxation.

The Garden Restaurant
The Garden Restaurant

The Twilight Tea is loosely based on the afternoon tea concept, but in three servings. Vegetarian and vegan options are available, but I stuck to my omnivore ways.

First to arrive is a platter comprising a very Instagram-friendly plant pot of vegetable crudités ‘growing’ out of hummus, smoked ham and Isle of Mull Cheddar rarebit, hot smoked salmon with avocado and Crowdie and mozzarella with heritage tomatoes and basil.

A warm course of harissa-spiced sausage rolls and haggis fritters followed, and the sausage rolls were good. Like, stop-eating-and-make-a-pained-expression good.

It’s a filling spread, but forget about any threats of just trying ‘a bite’ of the sweet selection. Before long the whipped pistachio ganache and strawberry eclair, honeycomb chocolate bar with dulce de leche and Maldon salt, yoghurt mousse and raspberry sable Breton tart and spiced butternut squash cheesecake will be nothing but an empty plate and a few crumbs.

Spa days start from £110 and include robe and slippers, use of the pool and heated relaxation room. The new Champagne Spa Day includes a 55-minute treatment, a 25-minute treatment and lunch or Twilight Tea plus glass of champagne. It costs £165 from Monday to Thursday and £170 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.