“ 19th century castle in countryside, 25 miles south of Edinburgh „
Stobo Castle Health Spa is, quite simply, stunning.
It is a beautiful, luxurious haven, situated in the countryside outside Peebles, in the south of Scotland.
We have been visiting Stobo Castle every year for about 6 years now, and every visit is just as fabulous as the last, each time I find something new to add to the uniqueness of this beautiful retreat.
The building itself is stunning, and one of the best parts is when driving up the long entrance road, you turn a corner and get the first view of the Castle. It is just breath-taking, and is very majestic, sitting on top of the hill, looking down. It is very old, although they have fairly recently added a new wing in order to incorporate more guest rooms.
The grounds are hugely expansive, sprawling out around the Castle, from the hills at the back, to the lake at the bottom, and the gorgeous Japanese Gardens - well worth a wander round on a nice day, although I haven't done this myself, and have only seen these from afar!
The building is certainly just a hint at the things to come inside, and definately promises more luxury to come!
There are a number of levels of room, and we have had the good fortune to be able to stay in most of them. Each room has it's own name, and even the Standard and Classic rooms are beautifully presented, most are very spacious, with gorgeous decor.
The slightly more 'special' rooms are just that, and each is decorated individually, with different little finishing touches. Some have private balconies also, looking over the gardens, which was lovely.
Finally, there is the Cashmere Suite. This really is the epitome of luxury, and although I've never stayed there, did have the chance to look around. The suite is full of cashmere, and really does have the best in everything, from two huge beds, a full wall of books, to a stunning stand alone bath with flat screen tv and telephone in the bathroom! This is definately the best of the best, and although the prices for this room are astronomical, it would be perfect for a wedding night, or very special occasion.
From the minute you step in the huge doors of the castle and are greeted by a very helpful boy who immediately holds the doors and takes your bags from you, you are treated like royalty, and this remains throughut your stay. The receptionists are beyoond helpful, and on the one occasion they messed up our rooms and had double booked for one night of our stay, they immediately up-graded us, and offered us the option to stay in the higher-classed rooms for the duration, or move to our actual room after the first night.
The only place I felt the service could be slightly better was in the restuarant, where the a-la-carte menu is served to your table each night. However, I found the service to be fairly slow at times, and am never too impressed with the seating arrangements, where are breakfast, and sometimes dinner, you are expected to share a table with other diners. This might be nice if you are staying alone, but as a group of 2 or 4, we'd prefer to be left alone to get on with it! However, this certainly wasn't enough to complain about, and the meals were always lovely, especially the buffet lunch, a favourite of mine!
Being a Health Spa, one of the biggest things in Stobo are the range of Spa treatments available.
These again, are of top quality, although I found found them to be more expensive than many other spas.
You do have to book your treatments in advance of your stay, as they are very popular, and fill up quickly.
On arrival, you are given a little personalised booklet, with all the treatments you have chosen, and the times they have been booked for you. The girls on reception are very good at spreading the treatments out so you get a little space between each if you've booked a lot (which we tend to do!).
At the time given for each, you go down to the Atrium, the meeting place for the Spa, and are met by your therapist for that particular treatment. It's all very nice, he/she introduces themselves, shakes hands with you, and leads you up to one of the many treatment rooms. The therapists have always been wonderfully polite, happy to chat or leave you in peace depending on your preferences.
Now, Stobo offers a huge number of treatments, which are all listed on their website, so I won't list them all here, but, having experineced many of them, I'd like to point out a couple of my favourites, which are well worth trying!
Serailbad Mud Room
This is exactly what it says - a room, with mud in! It can be done alone, or with another person. My sister and I went together, and what a laugh it was! You go in just in a pair of paper pants, and rub the mud all over yourselves (or in our case, throw it at one another!) until you are completely covered. You then sit in the room, and heaters come on, making the mud dry to your body, and then showers come on from above and the sides, allowing you to wash the mud back off, leaving your skin so soft it's unbelievable.
Our therapist for this was great, and actually came in halfway and took a photo for us when we were both covered in mud! The only bad points about it was that the mud smells AWFUL, and we were left trying to get it out from under our nails for days after!
However, a fab treatment, one of my favourites, and definately better with two!
This was another favourite of mine, which I had always wanted to try, but went into slightly apprehensively, as I am very ticklish, and imagined squirming as soon as the therapist touched my feet!
However, the girl was very professional, and to my surprise did not tickle me at all. The therapy itself was brilliant, and she was able to point out problems that I had with my back etc, just going by my feet.
I came out of the treatment room feeling very refreshed, even more so than one of the massages! Well recommended.
The range of treatments is huge, and there are also some provided for pregnant women, and a range solely for men. Along with the traditional treatments, there are also a selection of waxing and hair removal items, and traditional sunbeds, or the choice of fake tan application.
The Spa Facilities
As well as all the treatments on offer, by staying at the Castle, you also gain free use of the many facilities within the Spa. These include a state of the art gym, full of top of the range fitness machines. This is a great room, but one I must admit to staying away from during my visits - just too much like hard work!
There is also the most beautiful swimming pool, with wall completely windowed, so you can swim while looking out at the beautiful view of the hillside. This was especially stunning when we went in February, and had a good few inches of snow sitting outside, while we swam!
The pool is complimented by a jacuzzi, multiple sauna and steam rooms, and an 'experience shower' which gives you a variety of water pressures, and is lovely to finish off your swim.
There is also a huge number of exercise classes available, another of my favourite things aboyt the Spa. These are all free, and range from X-biking (horribly hard work!), to gentle yoga classes, and many in between. Some of the classes you have to sign up for, due to a limited number of equipment etc, but lists for these are put up in the morning, and very few times have I missed out on a place.
There is also an after dinner class each night, which can range from Salsa dancing (great fun after a few drinks with dinner!) to Jewellery making and other crafts. These are a nice way to spend the evening after the spa has closed. The hotel also put on a film each night, if you'd prefer to spend the evening in your bedroom.
The Best Of The Rest
Having went through the main points of the hotel, I'd like to also add a couple more of my favourite parts, that didn't really fit in elsewhere!
The biggest of these is namely the ability to walk around in your dressing gown and slippers all day! This is the strangest thing, and I certainly felt weird doing it the first time, although it is just the done thing, and you'd actually stand out more if you were fully clothed! The robes are provided for you by the Spa, and although you are expected to return these at the end of your stay, the robes and slippers are available to buy in the Spa Shop.
This leads me on to the next point - the spa shop. This is a nice little idea, and although very expensive, allows you the chance to buy many of the items used in the Spa, and also little gifts and cards to take home.
The shop also hold a huge range of the toiletries provided in the rooms and showers in the hotel. Depending on the level of room you're staying in, you may get Stobo's own shower gel/shampoo etc, or sometimes the Molton Brown range, which is just beautiful. They are very generous with the toiletries in the rooms, and in the pool showers, there is everything you'd need to get ready, from shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, to cleanser, toner and little cotton pads.
Unfortunately, this little bit of heaven does come at a price. A large one at that. To spend a weekend at Stobo Castle, you are looking at probably spending what you would on a week away in the sun. However, I know what I'd pick, and it's totally worth it to be completely pampered, even if only for a little while!
Overall, Stobo Castle Health Spa is one of, if not the best. Pure luxury from the moment you walk in the door, leaving your troubles outside. Totally worth the money spent, and I will continue to visit as much as possible for years to come!
Last September was the start of a love affair I had. Not just any old love affair, but a wonderful passionate day affair!
My daughter and I went to spend a day at Stobo Castle. We were so pampered and felt it was such a wonderful day that we vowed we would go back and preferably for a couple of days. (Sorry folks to disappoint!) My husband gave me money at Christmas towards another trip and as I had taken two weeks holiday from work and was only in Malta for one week we arranged to go to Stobo Castle for a pampering session. My son-in-law being an accountant decided we would get better value staying for 3 nights, so we didnt need any persuading, and booked on-line. A return e-mail asked me to contact them with credit card details to pay the deposit of £100 and it was all arranged!
Stobo Castle is a superb example of Scottish baronial architecture, nestled in wonderful countryside near Peebles. About 25 miles from Edinburgh, and just over an hour from Glasgow by car. Last year a £5million development was completed making Stobo one of the best Spa experiences in Europe. They won an award for Health Spa of the year in 2002, the second year running.
Going for a day visit and staying overnight has many similarities but there are also many benefits of being resident. So are you sitting comfortably, then I will begin.
We arrived on Monday afternoon and had a pleasant journey through the lovely countryside, following the driveway we parked in front of the castle day visitors have to park in a different car park and use another entrance. We were hardly out of the car and a uniformed young man arrived to take our cases in, I discovered later he also cleaned everyones car for them! We walked up the steps to the entrance and were greeted in Reception, once signed in our tour of the facilities began.
Our room had been up-graded at no extra charge as they were fairly quiet and as it wasnt quite ready so we were given coffee in the beautiful Drawing Room. Within no time it was ready and when we went in our cases were there waiting, we quickly un-packed and went out to enjoy the sunshine and a walk around the Japanese Garden which we hadnt had time to visit on our day session. It was magnificent with little bridges and stepping stones, and a waterfall from the lake at a higher level and beautiful trees and flowers
Back in the castle we changed into swimwear and fluffy white bath robes which are the uniform of all the in-mates! The pool is a wonderful relaxing place to be unless of course the Aqua fit class is on and then you are put through your paces! The huge windows on one side look out over the gardens where the bunnies scamper around and across to the hills, and if you dont want to swim you can relax on loungers and enjoy the view. We showered using the lovely gel which was provided and tried out the pool, then the Steam Room with wonderful Eucalyptus to clear the nasal passages and help with other problems, next we sampled the Hydrotherapy pool. Our bodies were pummelled with a fierce shower and pleasantly massaged with a kinder level of action. Feeling exhausted we drank our water to help remove the toxins and prevent de-hydration and after another shower and hair wash using the wonderful products we then massaged in the body lotion and retired to enjoy our bedroom. Being pampered is really exhausting!
The facilities are vast, there is a hydrotheraphy pool and mixed steam room with eucalyptus, which certainly clears the nasal passages. In the large female changing room, with individual changing rooms, there were 3 heat treatment rooms, with varying heat, and 2 snail showers with tropical rain or rain forest, depending if you wanted it warm with large droplets or cold sharp rain! Also an ice fountain with grains of ice if you felt the need to rapidly cool down! I'm not sure about the male changing rooms - I wasn't allowed in!! As always plenty of cool or chilled water and plastic cups for you to keep your fluids up and get rid of all those toxins! Fortunately there are also plenty of loos as you need to keep getting rid of all that water!!
The rooms all have names and ours was Neidpath. It had two double beds, each with 4 pillows and 2 cushions and they still use blankets and a heavy cotton cover and a lovely wool throw. There was a huge wardrobe, with plenty of coat hangers and a safe and ironing board and iron. There was a large chest of drawers, bed side table and writing desk. Two padded chairs with arms, a good hairdryer, telephone, clock radio and Television and tea and coffee making facilities and a jug of cold water. There were two electric wall heaters, although we didnt need them. The bathroom was large with a heated towel rail with huge fluffy towels and a bath and shower in a tiled alcove. A long tiled shelf with toiletries and a wash basin and toilet. It was very comfortable, but we were there to be pampered so didnt spend too long in our room.
The bedrooms are all beautifully furnished and very individual, making it your special place.
Our first meal was Dinner. We knew how great the food was after our Day Visit, so were prepared for something tasty, not just a lettuce leaf and piece of steamed fish as at some Health spas. Gone are the days when the food is colour coded and you can only eat certain items, following your diet.
The choice was magnificent and a good wine list was available if you wanted to indulge. There was soup, or choice of 2 other starters, with lovely bread or rolls, three main meals and a vegetarian choice and several sweets. They try to use local produce were possible and the food is cooked to order. Over the three nights some of the dishes were Monkfish in Butter and Lemon Sauce, Grilled Trout Fillets, Venison in Red Wine Sauce, Duck with a Wine sauce, Chicken and wild Mushrooms. All were served with New Potatoes and two vegetables. The sweets were great, being a sweet person I really enjoyed them! Chocolate cups with Grand Marnier filling, Baileys Cheesecake, Tiramisu, Frozen Yogurt, Gin and Passion fruit Sorbet. I did sample them all, as they were repeated at lunchtime the following day! There was also a huge bowl of fresh fruit and cheese and biscuits and coffee or tea to follow. Certainly there was no chance of feeling hungry.
Breakfast was a great start to the day, the large sideboard had fresh fruit, several juices like orange, cranberry and apple, cereals plus rolls and croissants. Toast was freshly made in the dining room and porridge was also available. There was also a menu from which you could order a selection of other fruit like grapefruit, oranges, melon, or a mixture of them all! Or prunes or apricots, also cooked breakfast, grilled bacon, poached or scrambled eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes. I didnt indulge but it looked lovely!
We actually met the chef who had been there for 17 years, a super character, she had a wonderful sense of humour and originated from Ireland. They were very willing to cook the food how you wanted it, no sauce was not a problem, I discovered this when someone requested plain fish one evening.
The large dining room has tables set for 8, but at a night there is a different room if you want to sit alone, especially good for couples who want some time together, but the large tables are good for people alone so they feel part of a group. We had a very well known athlete on our table she was there with her Mum and mother in law, we spent a great couple days in their company , so you never know who you'll meet!
I mention this here, as this was new since our visit when tea and coffee was virtually on tap all day. Now if you want tea or coffee, or even a glass of wine or fruit juice it is on sale in the coffee shop. You could sit and enjoy your coffee in the shop or sitting on the comfortable settees and chairs in the Spa reception area. You could even be naughty and have a slice of Carrot cake or other tasty goody! I was very good and didnt indulge! To tell the truth the food was so good I didnt feel tempted to eat in between meals.
Included in our stay we had a Body Massage on each of the 3 days, a pedicure and manicure with polish, a facial massage and one Aromazone treatment.
The massage lasted 45 minutes, working on the legs, arms and back and shoulders. Absolutely wonderful, I have a lot of tension in my right shoulder area, each of the 3 girls commented on this and worked more on this area to break it up and gave advice to try heat treatment in one of the steam rooms before the massage and to use the hydro massage in the spa. My skin felt wonderful afterwards, certainly a very enjoyable session.
Manicure and pedicures were similar to any other beauty salon, something to be enjoyed especially as you have a wonderful view through the upstairs windows over to the hills. There is a good choice of Mavala nail polish, and you can choose 2 bottles which you get to keep. Each of these are worth about £4. Its amazing to see the difference when everyones nails are polished! We didnt get the polish on until late on our last morning so no danger of chipping.
The facial massage was something to be enjoyed using Castle Care products depending on your skin type, on the day visit we had a French Facial which was completely different. A facial massage which included the neck and shoulders was very restful and I felt great afterwards.
As your hair gets a bit greasy it was wonderful to have shampoo and a special serum conditioner in the showers and full strength hair dryers in the changing rooms.
The Aromazone made me think it was something to do with aromatherapy, but apart from a few oils there the similarity ended. It isnt something I would choose on a different package as an additional treatment but I lay back and enjoyed the rest! As with all the treatment rooms they are very clean and not cluttered. There is subdued lighting and restful music. I dont suffer with extra fluid retention on my legs but this helps improve detoxification and blood circulation with the aid of appropriate oils reduces fluid retention, aids varicose veins and cellulite. Elegance goes out of the door here! The beautician soaks a pair of stockings (American Tan in colour!) in water and suitable oils and puts these on your legs, wet stockings are a strange feeling but more is yet to come .. some large air filled boots are then fastened over your legs and thighs, these are attached to a power supply and pressure is moved up and down your legs like a BP monitor cuff. An unusual feeling not totally unpleasant just strange! This is not suitable for people with mobility problems or Epilepsy. I think it was about 15 minutes treatment, to be truthful no one notices time except if a treatment or meal is due! When you're lying in a darkened room you are not aware of time! Then the boots and stockings were taken off, my legs dried and lovely cream was massaged in. Seemingly the spa staff like to do this at lunchtime to relieve tired legs and keep them on their toes for the rest of the day, so it must be good! My daughter felt so great after it she joined the Chi Ball class and then Boxercise straight after. Me? I relaxed and drank plenty of water!
We decided to have an additional treatment and had such a choice, it was difficult but decided on the Serail Mud Chamber. It costs £40 for one or £30 each if two share. Two is definitely more fun! We laughed until we ached, and they say laughter is good for you, so this was excellent and our skin felt fantastically smooth afterwards.
For every treatment appointment the therapist calls your name in the Reception area, introduces herself and shakes your hand! Then you are taken to the treatment room, chatting as you go, it is so friendly and all the staff are polite and helpful. We went into a similar room to many others only this had what looked like a large shower cubicle at the one end, but it contained two prettily tiled alcoves with a seat and overhead and side showers. In the centre was a double wash basin with taps that work with a hand movement, there is also a kneipp hose to cool you down if needed. The floor of the treatment room was covered with polythene, and there were two bowls of mud, placed nicely on a plate, and a spatula each, plus dark blue towels and hand towels. We had come ready in bikinis, but as the mud stains we donned our disposable paper pants instead (they didnt catch on did they!) and paper shower cap, and started covering ourselves in mud! So there we were covered in mud except for a little area around the eye. To begin with it smelt awful, but soon evaporated and we sat in the chamber and the heat was turned on. After a while the mud starts to dry and herbal essences are filtered in as the heat is raised to 45 degrees making the mud supple. This is where you start having fun and massage the mud with circular movements to exfoliate your skin and eliminate toxins. When the heating goes off the therapist returns to remind you to wash off the mud. Now this is easier said than done!
It took some time and we kept finding more mud! Eventually we felt brave enough to step out and had more body lotion to apply. Wow, was our skin velvety or not. I dont ever remember feeling like that before. Again we were advised to rest and drink plenty of water. It was an experience Ill never forget!
Downside was our nails were hard to get clean so glad the polish wasnt for a couple of days! But the result was worth that minor problem.
I had a 5 minute session on a sun bed, to top up the colour I had got in Malta, it was a Sunvision 560 and cost £5, little eye covers were provided and it was quite effective. (hope the Doctors at work dont find out as they dont approve of sun beds!
There are so many treatments and as I didnt have anymore I cant comment but you can look up the website and find a price list if you are interested.
Everyday there are Aqua aerobics, sometimes mixed sometimes ladies only, there are also power walking sessions, Chi balls, Boxercise etc. There is a fantastic gym and advice is on hand, a fitness assessment can also be done. Bicycles are available or you can enjoy a game of tennis. For the men in your life they can play golf nearby or go fishing if you want to be pampered and they want enjoy the outdoor life.
When we went for the day we heard people saying how lovely the Japanese garden was, but we didnt have time to walk down the drive to see it. Because we stayed we fitted this in twice I forgot to take my camera the first time! It was a beautiful experience, the sound of water and birds singing, the flowers and trees were bursting into spring and so pretty. I wish I could add photos as it was so beautiful.
This is an upmarket place to be, there is no bar, which might not suit some people. But those who wanted to enjoy a drink had brought their bottle of gin with them! After dinner there was something arranged for the evening, if you wanted to join the other guests or you could retire to your room and watch television or a video was available from 9.00pm via your television. Many people opted to sit in the elegant drawing room, read a magazine or paper which were provided or chat to others.
We decided to see what was on offer . The first night the Chef did a demonstration, she could have been a stand up comic, we were in stitches, but throughout all this she cooked a lovely pork fillet and mushroom dish which we sampled!
The second evening a local craftswoman brought some of her hand crafted jewellery to show us, this was expensive and no one opened their purses!
The third evening a lady came to teach us Salsa dancing, so off to the exercise studio we went for a lesson! Her command of the English language might not have been perfect but what a dancer! She soon had everyone put through their paces, there was lots of hilarity and it was soon 10.00pm and by then most people were ready to retire exhausted after a day being pampered!
We would have liked to be there the following evening as there was a talk on homeopathy arranged which sounded interesting.
The shop had moved and was larger than before, the old shop being taken over by the Coffee Shop. The manager Pauline and her staff were very helpful. They stock wonderful products, such as Darphin, Phytomer, Thalgo, Finders, Molton Brown and Castle Care. There are lots of sample bottles for you to try out, and we were lucky enough to be there on a day when they were having a special offer. £10 for a facial using Phtytomer products, but if you spend £40, which is basically 2 products then you dont pay for the facial and you got a goody box with 4 nice sized products. We both managed to fit this in on our last day, after all our treatments.
I had sampled a lovely perfume, but they had sold out, but not one to disappoint they posted it on to me. It arrived a week after my visit with an apology for the delay and some extra samples of products, I thought that excellent service. We even bought the lovely white Stobo bath robes on special offer when you spent £25. Great presents or to keep for yourself.
Other items were also on sale, swimwear, slippers, sportswear and some books on relaxation, Stobo teddies etc. and CASHMERE THONGS!!
$$**THE CASHMERE SUITE**$$
This must be the most exclusive bedroom in the country! If you have a spare £500 you and a partner can spend a night there!
They had a build and design budget of £350,000. This is the ultimate in luxury and we got to look at it!
A lovely couple were on their honeymoon and they were happy to show a few of us around. It was out of this world. Cashmere is everywhere, the walls of the bedroom were in rich claret and camel coloured cashmere covers the walls in the lounge. It was softly padded and beautiful to touch. Cashmere covers on the beds Integrated his and hers plasma screens are on the walls at the foot of the two huge 7 x 5 foot beds (Dont ask me why they need two beds!!) which are hand painted and from Italy. There is a separate dressing room with loads of wardrobes. In the lounge there is a fantastic rug which I believe cost £18,000 and lovely comfortable settees and chairs, the curtains were silk and very richly coloured and layered. There is a bookcase full of books and lovely paintings on the walls and a massive bowl of exotic fruits was provided. More television screens, DVD and audio system all controlled by a touch panel in the lounge. The French windows open out onto a terrace with seating.
And then the bathroom. I could have really had a wonderful session in there!
The focal point was a hand crafted limestone cream bath weighing over a ton! Big enough for two it looked like half a huge rugby ball!! With lights in the floor around the bath. There is underfloor heating so the mirrors didnt steam up, double washbasins and a huge shower with lights which change colour. Guess what another television! There was a huge supply of Molton Brown products, and the toilet was in a separate room with believe it or not a self closing lid!!
Fantastic for a really special treat.
Sadly the day before we left there was a leak, so this had to be repaired and as the suite seemed to be booked for a long time this could cause a problem. No other room however lovely could take the place of this Cashmere crazy suite.
The So Relaxing package from £147 per person per night is a reduced rate compared with last year to celebrate the opening of the new Spa. The So Pampering package is £186 per night. Prices depend on the type of room you book, these were for standard rooms, classic and deluxe are extra. The day visit is from £150 and includes lunch, with a £10 supplement at weekends. You can go alone or with friends and spend the day as you want, as busy or relaxed as you want it to be. The choice is yours.
Yes it is written in small letters! This is at 5% and based on room fees only and is capped at £25.
To be truthful the staff were great and deserved a tip!
There is a website www.stobocastle.co.uk.
Will I return? I do hope so, Id like to keep this love affair going for many years to come. Ive never had so many people at work and friends and neighbours comment on how well I look, so it must have been worth it. I know it was a lot of money, but I feel so much better for it, Im happy, my husband is happy, so roll on the next time!
Anyone fancy joining me? Youll have to pay for yourself though!
Go on pamper yourself!