If you really want to unwind on a break to the Scottish capital, all it takes is a quick dip, soak or steam after a long day of sightseeing. Even in Edinburgh’s most ebullient hotels, though, don’t expect wraparound infinity pools or hot tubs built for two – this is not the Maldives or Seychelles. Instead, prepare for whirlpools with rugged castle views, woodland-set pool terraces and the odd whisper of Mediterranean cool.
Hidden, cocoon-like, in the subterranean belly of this splashy five-star hotel, the pool and spa are arguably the smartest in the city. There’s a Turkish steam room, Finnish sauna and 15m (50ft) lap pool, while the colour palette is all cool Mediterranean blue, flanked by Grecian columns. A personal trainer is on hand in the gym, as are a team of spa therapists who can preen, polish and primp you like a peacock.
Fancy being wrapped in Hebridean seaweed from Stornoway? It’s better than it sounds – trust us – and is one of the best anti-ageing, face-glowing treatments at this hotel’s tucked-away spa. The subtly exotic, indigo-blue lap pool is better suited to quick workouts than Olympic-style swim sessions but it is still the perfect place to relax after a long day. You can throw caution to the wind and order champagne straight to the spa, or step upstairs and delight in the Levantine kebabs and cocktails of Baba – the hotel’s Lebanese-inspired restaurant. Want to work up an appetite first? Head to the fitness studio for cardio and weights.
Don’t let this hotel’s Georgian-era history fool you. The building might have first appeared in 1819, but this old dame is firmly a modern marvel in the looks department. The sauna, steam room and pool offer new-found zen for a quick soak – just don’t expect to lounge around all day – unless you’re quick – there are only a handful of daybeds to nab. If you’re not at the gym, huff and puff up Calton Hill for sunset skyline views and an impeccable dinner at the Lookout by Gardener’s Cottage.
Unlike Edinburgh’s other hot-ticket pools, this is the kind of place you could well hang out at all day. Beyond the 18m (60ft) pool – with adult-only swim times – there’s a hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room, and the Club Tropicana look extends to the poolside garden terrace. It’s the best summery vibe the city has to offer. Whether or not you use the exercise studio or gym is another thing. There’s also a club café for elevenses and lunch if you want it, or otherwise, retreat upstairs for bar food in the airy Conservatory Lounge.
Located behind Hogwarts-like Fettes College, this hotel’s wellness area and members club is more expansive than anywhere else. Think a 20m (66ft) pool, whirlpool spa, sauna and steam room, plus a spinning studio, fitness centre and gym. A timetable of classes draws in a healthy crowd of locals from Stockbridge, Trinity and beyond, too. Warning: the hot wings and burger stacks dished up in the hotel’s Pub & Grill may cause you to skip your yoga class.
Close enough to the Scottish Parliament that the First Minister could pop in for a couple of laps on their lunch break, the 14m (46ft) heated pool at this hotel is part of a sprawling leisure club and spa. There’s a muscular gym, with barbells for every political heavyweight, and a surf and turf restaurant for carb-loading afterwards.
In the mind’s eye, country-club pools are open-air affairs with Baywatch-style lifeguards on duty. Not in Scotland, nay, but the heated indoor lap pool, sauna and steam room here are a suitable substitute. Located beside the resort’s turreted castle, the pool is your chill-out space after a rambling woodland walk, 18 holes on one of the resort’s two championship golf courses or a mad dash around the capital’s highlights.
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