Escape the city life for rejuvenating, relaxing Me Time at the Spa – Principal Hotel, Charlotte Square
The Principal Edinburgh, Charlotte Square – formerly the Roxburghe Hotel and first opened in 1848 – has had a multi-million-pound refurbishment, now transformed into a smart contemporary Boutique hotel within its seven grand townhouses, overlooking Charlotte Square Garden. With vintage travel ephemera and quirky, colourful design across bedrooms, bars, bistros and lounges, it was named the Edinburgh Style Hotel of the Year 2018.
The Spa has also had a makeover to create a relaxing retreat in the centre of the city for pampering treatments and leisure time around the pool, sauna and steam room. Located on the lower ground floor, the cool, quiet, interior space has a calming ambience which envelops you from the moment you arrive at the Spa Reception.
The thematic decor is all about reflecting the fragrant scent and traditional medicinal properties of herbs, plants and dried flowers which fill the large vintage bottles to represent a 19th century Apothocary.
This follows through into the ingredients of the Signature Spa products – OSKIA is a specialist skin care formula created for luxury facial treatments to enhance a healthy complexion.
The other skincare range is ishga, developed from natural, organic seaweed on the Isle of Lewis. In order to experience both of these Spa products, I selected the OSKIA Glow Facial while my partner Ken would be trying the ishga Face and Body Sensation.
We were shown to the Locker Rooms downstairs– very spacious and well laid out, where we changed into towelling bathrobes and slippers. From here, there is a direct access to the swimming pool and thermal suite. We then sat for a few minutes in the Relaxation room until our Therapists came to collect us for our respective beautifying treatments.
The rooms are small but decorated with soft, subtle shades of cappucino and taupe to enhance the sense of calm. Sitting on a hard wooden stool (?!), I was asked to select my preferred scented oil for either energy or relaxation. Lying on the massage bed, I was wrapped up under a duvet and towels, while a CD of Mood music provided a soothing soundtrack.
The OSKIA facial was extremely comprehensive covering the face, neck and décolletage with a flowing series of various creams and a mask to exfoliate, cleanse, tone and moisturise. I always love the contrasting sensation of cold lotions followed by a hot towel to refresh and open the pores. The application of a warm oil, drizzled over my face, was like basting a chicken – but I was not going to be roasted! A gentle massage in circular movements works to penetrate and plump up the layers of skin.
OSKIA was created in 2009 by Georgie Cleeve after she damaged her knee in a skiing accident. Understanding that race horses are given BSM, a natural sulphur supplement, she used this on her knee which helped to repair the tissue and cartilage joint. This was the springboard to create a therapeutic skincare range – the name is derived from ancient Greek meaning beauty and nutrition – which promotes collagen production and has anti-inflammatory elements for a brighter, younger-looking complexion.
Meanwhile Ken was next door for a Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage with ishga seaweed body oils to nourish the skin, pummelling the muscles to release knots and alleviate tension. Other ingredients in the products include lavender, lemongrass and juniper which sound like the botanicals in a perfectly curated Gin! This was followed by a rejuvenating Facial which showed amazing results.
Ishga marine skincare – named after the Gaelic for water – was founded by Malcolm, a Scientist, Joanna his wife, a beauty therapist, and Martin a seaweed expert. Based in Lewis, the Outer Hebrides, they source seaweed harvested from the sandy beaches combined with local salt water, the purest in the world as is the fresh water taken from mountain springs.
Seaweed has been used for centuries for its healing properties, and its vitamins, minerals and amino acid are ideal for people who suffer from acne or dry and itchy skin conditions. Cucumber extract, Macadamia, Jojoba Oil, Thistle Oil, Hebridean Sea Salt and Aloe Vera are other natural ingredients as well as anti-oxidants to maintain a healthy and youthful skin. As Ken noticed afterwards, his face was moisturised, toned and tightened for a brighter, smoother appearance of the skin.
This was a marvellous escape for the afternoon at the Principal Spa – around an hour and a half of recuperative, calming, Chill Out – Me Time followed by a rest in the Relaxation room. The Leisure club is a myriad of corridors, rooms and staircases – the changing room (with the loos) are a bit of a trek and directions are needed to find your way back here.
Afterwards we went upstairs to The Garden – the indoor Greenhouse Conservatory Bar and Café – for a refreshing Cocktail, a Rhubarb and Ginger Sling for him and an Elderflower Collins for me, all very fruity and healthy.
With sunlight streaming in from the glass roof and surrounded by flowers, it was like sitting outside – perfect for ‘al fresco’ coffee, tea, snacks, bar drinks, lunch or supper, whatever the weather.
The Spa offers a diverse menu of massages, facials, manicures and beauty treatments. For a special treat, book an indulgent Spa Day such as Champagne, Deluxe and Signature Lunch or Twilight Tea packages.
While you may visit the Spa as a non-resident as we did, why not plan to stay here for a mini city break. Hotel guests in a Standard bedroom can enjoy the leisure facilities free of charge from 7-9am and again from 6-9pm. Those staying in all other Superior rooms are free to go at any time. As well as the Pool, keep fit in the gym with Intenza Fitness cardio machines and equipment for stretching and strength training. Studio classes offer yoga, zumba, spinning and bootcamp sessions.
Opening hours, Monday to Friday, 6.30am – 10pm, Saturday and Sunday, 7am – 8pm
Address: The Principal Charlotte Square, 38 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, EH2 4HQ.
Telephone +44 (0)131 240 5500