Well Intentioned: A Winter Wellness Guide to Edinburgh

The beautiful and dynamic city of Edinburgh is perfect for a winter spa break
The beautiful and dynamic city of Edinburgh is perfect for a winter spa break | © Shaiith79 / Depositphotos.com
Photo of Emma Sparks
16 November 2021

Whether you’re travelling solo, with friends or as a couple, the Scottish capital sets the scene for a spa break with a side-serving of comedy and soul food.

With its history-soaked streets and eye-catching skyline, Edinburgh is a showstopper of a city. It’s wrapped up in red bows come Christmas and aglow over New Year’s for the barn-storming Hogmanay. Come January and February, sightseeing crowds thin out – but those who do brave the frosty winter weather will find plenty of ways to stay warm. From sipping Scotch by an open fire to stretching out at a hot yoga class, here are some of the best ways to stay calm and cosy in the Scottish capital.

The Balmoral

The high-ceilinged atrium of the opulent dining room at the Balmoral
Courtesy of the Balmoral / Expedia.com
Aaand relax. Everything’s taken care of at this grand, royalty-ready hotel – from the opulent high-ceilinged rooms (many with views of Edinburgh Castle) to the Michelin-star food (hand-dived scallops, anyone?). All you need to worry about is whether to get a Hebridean sea-salt body scrub or Swedish massage after a few laps in the indoor pool, or which of the 500 varieties of Scottish whisky you’ll be trying at the bar before sinking into bed.

Hot Yoga Edinburgh

Yoga Studio
Group of sporty people in Balasana pose in a yoga studio
© Fizkes / Depositphotos.com
No one likes jogging in ice-cold rain. Even swimming lacks appeal when the weather’s this chilly. But what if your workout felt like a warm hug? Infrared panels on the ceiling heat this yoga studio to anywhere between 26C (79F) and 39C (102F) – depending on the type of yoga and time of day. Work up a serious sweat at a power vinyasa class, or release muscle tension and prepare for sleep in a slow-paced warm yin session.

Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – the Caledonian

The comfortable Peacock Alley lounge with a piano at the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – the Caledonian
Courtesy of the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – the Caledonian / Expedia.com
This huge 120-year-old hotel in a former train station is part of the Waldorf Astoria brand and boasts some of the best views of Edinburgh. Quiet rooms have blackout curtains for undisturbed sleep and Nespresso machines for your morning coffee in bed. You’ll find the UK’s only Guerlain Spa here; scent-led treatments include the Imperial Relaxing Massage, inspired by the perfumery’s classic eau de cologne, which will leave you de-stressed and smelling divine.

The Stand Comedy Club

Bartender and bar patrons sharing a laugh at the Stand Comedy Club
Courtesy of the Stand Comedy Club
Comedians cut their teeth at Edinburgh’s world-renowned Fringe Festival each August, but there are jokes to be heard all year round in this comedy-loving city. After all, laughter is the best medicine, and those belly laughs hit differently when it’s grey and miserable outside. Visit the Stand comedy club to watch mood-boosting sets by big-name comics, or opt for pot-luck at Red Raw, the weekly open-mic night for newbies.

Kimpton Charlotte Square

The luxe library at Kimpton Charlotte Square with Persian rugs and velvet chairs
Courtesy of Kimpton Charlotte Square / Expedia.com
Set across seven Georgian townhouses, a stone’s throw from Princes Street, this is a fine place to retreat from Scotland’s winter chill. Rooms feel homely – all aged leather and warm lighting – and the plant-filled, glass-roofed Garden restaurant serves up healthy comfort food, such as cauliflower fritters, beetroot hummus and babaganoush. Don’t miss the wellness centre, where you can relax in the pool or steam room post-pilates, and treat yourself to a spot of CBD reflexology.

Seeds for the Soul

Restaurant, Vegan, $$$
A tasty plant-based burger on a soft bun with a side of sweet potato fries
© Rolande PG / Unsplash
Whether you’re trying to reduce your meat intake or are totally plant-based, you’ll find a dish for you at this welcoming 100% vegan cafe in buzzy Bruntsfield. Chow down on a hearty Beyond burger stuffed with mac ‘n’ cheese and smoky “facon”, or up your vitamin intake with a fresh veg-filled satay bowl or kale and ginger smoothie.

Float Philosophy

Young woman with long hair floating in a heated swimming pool
© Kzenon / Depositphotos.com
According to floatation fans, spending one hour floating in just 10 inches (25cm) of magnesium-rich salt water could change your life. The new-age treatment is said to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, improve sleep quality and increase feelings of wellbeing. Fancy giving it a go? Book your own zero-gravity pod experience at this luxury float centre in Edinburgh West.

National Museum of Scotland

Buddha Statue in the Grand Gallery in the National Museum of Scotland
© Creatista / Depositphotos.com
There’s something meditative about visiting a museum. Mindful wanderings among the ancient artefacts and objects of beauty at the National Museum of Scotland are likely to spark your curiosity and stir a sense of connection to the wider world, past and present. The Grand Gallery alone is spirit-lifting, with its curved glass ceiling flooding the exhibition space with light.

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