Service & staff
Value for Money
We packed our spa critic Clare Rawlinson off to Stobo Castle with her hubby, she shares her review below so you know what to expect on your visit.
Stobo Castle is nestled in the Scottish Borders, an easy 50-minute drive from Edinburgh airport. As soon as you pass through the stone gateposts, and embark on the journey up the long driveway, through fields roaming with cows and lambs, your heartrate slows, and you mentally switch off from all of life's trials and tribulations.
The gently winding road takes you straight up to the castle itself, where there is ample parking for both hotel residents and spa guests. As a resident of the hotel you’ll benefit from a complimentary car wash during your stay, which is one of many extra touches we discovered during our stay. Stobo is also accessible by public transport (bus), and, for the more discerning guest, there is even a helipad!
One would be hard-pressed not to be wowed by the impressive façade of the castle, and upon entering the building, the high ceilings and sympathetic décor do not disappoint.
We were greeted immediately, and our booking was found straight away, ensuring a hassle-free check-in. Our room (a deluxe room) was stunning, featuring two large beds, a comfortable seating area and a well-appointed bathroom including my favourite Molton Brown toiletries. We also benefited from having a large balcony with a sweeping staircase leading down to the manicured lawns.
Our tour of the castle took in all areas of the spa, from the elegant drawing room to the dining rooms, spa café and leisure facilities. Residents were relaxing in their signature ‘So Stobo’ robes and slippers as they moved around the spa, adding to the warm and friendly atmosphere.
The hotel and spa facilities alike were all spotlessly clean and well-maintained. We frequently saw staff checking levels in the pools, and restocking the towels (which were in fluffy white abundance).
The changing rooms were the best that I have seen, full of those extra touches that catered to my every need- dispensers provided cleanser, toner and moisturiser by the mirrors, alongside baskets overflowing with cotton wool pads, and luxury shampoo, conditioner and shower gel was provided in every shower cubicle.
The ladies' changing room also featured a laconium, two steam rooms, and two 'experience' showers, offering guests the opportunity to begin their spa experience without even leaving the changing rooms.
The staff at Stobo Castle were extremely friendly and welcoming, without being insincere. Over the three days we were there, we grew to recognise several faces, and this helped to add to the family feel of the spa, and enhanced our stay. Service was slick and efficient in the dining rooms, and the staff on the front desk were very helpful when it came to suggesting walks around the grounds.
Stobo Castle offer a huge range of treatments, from waxing and pedicures to luxury facials and more unusual thermal treatments.
After a very long deliberation, I opted for a Phytomer Sea Holistic Treatment, and I was not disappointed. It was an hour and a half of pure bliss, featuring full body exfoliation, massage with warm boluses of sea salt and lavender, and a traditional massage by hand. All topped off with a luxury facial.
The therapist was very professional and clearly highly trained, and gave me a clear overview of the treatment before it commenced. I was also advised of the products that would be useful for my skin type, and felt that I had received a highly personalised service and very good value for money. The treatment rooms were serene and very tastefully decorated, and the background music was varied and soothing.
Food & Drink:
Residential packages at Stobo Castle include all meals from Dinner on the evening of arrival, to lunch on the day of departure. Both my husband and I were extremely impressed by the choice on offer - lunch and dinner offered a three-course menu, with at least 5 main course options ranging from low-calorie to more indulgent options.
The produce was all of a very high quality, and featured lots of local produce including lamb, venison, fillet steak (supp. applied), sea bass, lemon sole, salmon and crab. While the quality of the food was clear, my only criticism would be that the accompaniments were slightly unimaginative (served separately as a plate of steamed vegetables).
Although wine and soft drinks aren't included in the package, house wine was around £17, which seemed to be very reasonable given that they have a captive audience. The wine list was varied and offered a good choice of wines to complement your meal. Guests are also able to put the remainder of their bottle of wine 'on hold' until the next night, although we polished off ours pretty swiftly, so this did not apply to us!
Following lunch and dinner, guests are invited to relax with tea and coffee in the elegant surroundings of the drawing room.
Breakfast consisted of a buffet, offering copious amounts of fresh berries and other fruits, along with cereals and yoghurts. A hot buffet was also available providing high quality sausages and bacon, along with beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, delicious croissants, and the more traditional potato scones. In addition to this, guests are offered a menu of cooked to order dishes including scotch porridge, smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, kippers, mackerel, and eggs.
There is absolutely no way that you will go hungry at Stobo Castle, so it's fortunate that guests tend to take breakfast and lunch in their robes, while dressing fairly casually for dinner- leave those tight dresses at home, ladies!
Stobo Castle is more than just the only destination spa in Scotland – it's a home away from home experience (granted, a lot posher home). The staff and guests alike were so incredibly friendly, and there was no feeling of pretension that I had initially feared from such a grand venue. We were looked after from the moment we arrived, and the second that we put our robes on, we felt that we were more than just 'guests'.
The facilities themselves are amazing - it would be pretty hard to beat swimming lengths of the 25m ozone pool, whilst looking out over the rolling hills of the borders. Or sitting in the outdoor hot tubs as the snow fell, enjoying the state of the art hydrospa and the brand spanking new sauna and steam rooms with awe-inspiring views, or just simply taking a leisurely stroll around the beautifully tranquil Japanese Gardens in the crisp Scottish air.
It’s possible to visit Stobo Castle just for an evening, making it a purse friendly option for those wishing to indulge for a few hours. If you can though, stay for a night or two. Having spent a couple of nights there, we came away feeling thoroughly relaxed, refreshed and spoiled. More importantly, whilst there we felt that we were a million miles away from our hectic lives.