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A girls’ weekend that leaves you feeling better than when you started? As the new year blues subside, anything is possible. Words: Fiona Brownlee

ur last girls’ weekend was to New York. It started with (‘osmopolitans in the Soho (irand and ended in the liast Village with. yes. unsurprisingly. more cocktails. This time we wanted a girls~ weekend which lel‘t as looking good rather than l'eeling that we needed another hreak to recover. Retaining the Star and I/Ir' ('in theme hut losing the (‘osmopolitans. we hook ourselves into Stoho (‘astle Health Spa. Only 45 minutes drive from lidinhurgh. it is easily accessible and though we chose to indulge ourselves and stay overnight. it is close enough to do in a day. Set in heautil‘ul countryside. the castle was suhstantially renovated last ()ctoher. 'l’he turreted exterior helies the state ol' the art treatment rooms and 25m o/one treated pool. which lie within. Al'ter houncing on our vast heds with excitement and secreting the supplies ol‘ wine and snacks we had hrought. in case health spa lil’e really did mean carrot juice and lettuce leaves. we donned our white hathrohes and went l’or a wander. As celehrities allegedly ol’ten use Stoho. we do our hest impressions ol‘ l'amous people travelling incognito. The assumption heing that hy the time said lamous person has heen stripped ol'jewellery and make-up. wet hair plastered to their head and lace shiny l‘rom the treatments (not to mention clad in the universal white rohe) it is impossihle to tell what anyone does outside the heautil‘ul castle walls. ('lasses ranging lrom aerohics to the intriguing sounding chi hall are on ol’l‘er throughout the day hut we opt l'or the more sedentary option ol‘ heat treatments in the health suite.

Three rooms ol‘ varying heats. a tropical rain shower and. for the very hrave. crushed ice to rub on your skin hetween rooms. It is very similar to the much celehrated thermal suite at lidinhurgh's ()ne Spa with the added honus ol‘ heing within a self contained health spa. Beside the main pool. a hydrospa is set in its own room and we sit like idiots in the warm water waiting for the action to start. We could have heen there a long time. It transpires you have to activate it yoursell‘. releasing jets of water around the pool. an impressive l’ountain el‘l’ect in the middle and two cascades on either side which give the hest hack massage ever. As my friend reclined gracel'ully on the airlounger looking terrihly Sex «ml the (Viv. the lorce ol‘ the water nearly knocked me llat resulting in an effect which was more reminiscent ol the Poseidon xldi‘t’llilll‘t‘.

l'nlike many of the spas in Scotland. Stoho (‘astle is not a hotel so there is no fear of stumhling over inehriated gnllL‘l‘s or stray wedding guests while you pad around in your hath rohe. Although Stoho is clearly heginning to aim at the couples market with dedicated men’s treatments and litness programmes. it is still dominated by women. One man was spotted the entire weekend and the tact that dinner is at communal tahles means that you can’t lure your partner along on the pretext that it is a romantic retreat. For a girls' weekend. though. I can‘t fault it. We had sneaked in a hottle of champagne and. although I‘m sure they don‘t encourage it. the waiter was kind enough to bring us an ice hucket in which



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