Monday, 15 February 2016

GUEST POST: My Visit to the Aveda Spa at The Scotsman Hotel

Give Yourself the Spring Clean Treatment in Edinburgh this February

It’s that time of year again when the optimistic ones amongst us start their spring cleaning. For many, February signals a time to get our lives back in order, new starts and fresh ideas. We all know it’s supposed to happen in January – the New Year’s Resolution period where we chuck out Christmas trees and frantically join fitness groups. But in reality, the endless drizzle and return-to-work slump make us sluggish, so changes go on hold for a month. Fortunately, Spring’s blossom-covered, daffodil-scattered head is just starting to peep over the horizon.

This year, I’ve decided to apply the spring cleaning process to ME as well as my home. Now don’t get me wrong – I do wash. I’m a big fan of baths: wallowing around hippo-like under a blanket of bubbles is one of life’s great pleasures. But I’ve decided I need to take better general care of my bodywork because I’m starting to show some wear and tear. There are visible chips and dents and if I’m not careful, my bumper might fall off altogether. A regular service is in order and in Edinburgh there’s only one place to get the kind of attention I need.

Aware of my MOT mission, a kind aunt treated me to the ‘New Year, New You’ offer from The Scotsman Hotel for Christmas. I’d been for cocktails and a festive meal at the hotel before – both decadent and delicious – but I’d never been to the spa. This was finally my chance to be pummelled, polished and slathered in good stuff by expert hands and I couldn’t wait. So I finally chucked out the remnants of Christmas stodge left in the house, dusted off my gym-wear and headed to the Aveda Scotsman Spa & Health Club, gift-card in hand.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the spa before I arrived. The foyer, bar and brasserie at the hotel are so classically Edwardian with polished wooden panels, stained glass and marble columns everywhere – was this Art Deco glamour extended to the spa? I suddenly felt very out of place in my scruffy (and slightly tight) gym kit but the staff greeted me with warm smiles and helpful directions. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the furnishings downstairs though – or more pleasantly surprised.

As I descended the stairs into the basement level (where a cool 20,000 square feet of space is dedicated to relaxation – a slight improvement on my own 5x9ft bathroom) I was taken aback by the décor. The spa has a sophisticated, minimalist design – all contemporary metal panelling, slick granite surfaces and chic spotlighting. I instantly felt my stresses melt away in this underground hideaway – the street noise evaporated and the muted colours were already lulling me into a hypnotically soothed state.

My first port of call was the gym… a word which usually strikes fear in my heart. But if I was going to enjoy some of the luscious spa treatments on offer later, I had to earn them first. It was my first gym experience in three years – my first ever yoga class – and try as I might to tell myself I hate exercise, I really did end up rather enjoying it. The Scotsman Hotel studio is well-equipped and the instructor endlessly encouraging and energy-boosting. Soon I understood my Downward Dog from my Baby Cobra and was feeling my body unwind. After the class, I had an unfamiliar feeling of wanting to do more… so taking full advantage of this strange compulsion, next I headed for the pool.

Having not worn my cozzie in a while, I was relieved to see there were only two other people in the pool – so I made a dash for it. No sooner had I entered the water, than I felt my self-consciousness ebb away as quickly as my muscle pangs. The pool is kept at an inviting 30 degrees which is, not only like a big warm hug in the middle of winter, but the optimal temperature to help you get the most out of a swimming workout. The room itself is a stunning structure, featuring Scotland’s first stainless steel pool, and it certainly makes for an interesting swim as you take in your sleek, urban surroundings. I found myself doing more lengths of back-stroke than usual, just to enjoy the view.
Once I’d completed 20 lengths (a number I was quite pleased with – I’m no Rebecca Adlington) I sprawled myself out on one of the pool loungers for a well-earned rest… but the Tropical Showers were calling me. I mentioned before my love of baths, well if I had a shower like this in my home, I’d never leave the bathroom. The idea behind the steamy, fragrant heat of these showers is that, post-swim, they keep your muscles supple at a nice warm temperature – perfect for those about to enter the steam room (as I was, naturally, going to do). I needed all the toxin-sweating, circulation-improving, ache-soothing help I could get… so reluctantly prising myself away from the exotic stream, I entered the steam room.

This time, I was the only one in there – I felt like Viking nobility! I found a spot and allowed the humidity to settle around me, soaking my skin and I slowed my breathing. The Scotsman uses eucalyptus essence in the vapour of their steam room, so those with a lingering winter cold will find instant relief. By the time I climbed out 15 minutes later, my body was feeling amazing and my head pleasantly dozy – this was exactly the TLC I knew it was craving… and then it was time for the follow-up Arctic Shower. From my reading, I knew that following the extreme heat and moisture of the steam room with a burst of cold water is essential. It allows your body to regulate a normal temperature again and for your freshly-cleansed pores to close up. Knowing this fact, is very different to actually taking a step into something that has ‘Arctic’ in the title. I took a deep intake of breath and reminded myself it was all part of my Spring Clean project. It was certainly invigorating and my drowsiness was gone in an instant.

For the final part of my Aveda Spa visit, I was led into the treatment room – think serene Indian retreat – by a welcoming therapist. I had pre-booked my Stress-Fix Body Massage (though my morning so far had definitely helped wash some of those stresses away already) and had looked forward to this session all day. This bespoke massage means the therapist really listens to you first to find out your problematic areas. Then once they start, they listen to your body, identifying unknown weak spots, muscle knots and joints that need extra care. I’m not quite sure how 60 minutes passed, but in a blur of deep tissue massage and reflexology, relaxing music and aromatic oils, the masseuse informed me we’d come to the end… until next time.

After a hot shower, blow-dry and cuppa, I practically floated out of the building and glided down the street back home. Anyone who saw me – a large tranquil smile spread across my face – probably thought I’d either struck gold somewhere on The Royal Mile or sampled one too many cocktails at North Bridge Brasserie. But I honestly felt better than if both those things had happened! I was finally able to give that bodywork the much-needed care and attention it needed and in the most stylish, luxurious surroundings the city has to offer – this is one Spring Clean that I won’t mind keeping up all year round.

Monday, 25 January 2016

5 Reasons to Celebrate Rabbie Burns (That Don't Involve Poetry)

Most of us understand the basics of Burns Night. Each year (exactly a month after Christmas – just when we all need to blow the January blues away) the Scots give us all an excuse for a big knees-up to celebrate the birth of Scotland’s most famous poet, Robert Burns.

At this grey and drizzly time of year, the prospect of a raucous night sampling drams of whisky and linking arms in a reel with tartan-clad pals is the only thing lighting the way to February. It’s time to hail the bagpipes and practise reciting ‘A Red, Red Rose’ in your best Scottish accent (only please don’t look to Mike Myers in ‘Shrek’ for inspiration). With the comforting, carb-rich food (let’s face it – the January diet has long been abandoned) and ceremonial touches like piping in and addressing the haggis, there’s nothing not to like about Burns Night. Besides the general merry-making, it’s a chance to show appreciation for the Greatest Scot (as voted for by the Scottish public) – the man who gave us something to sing along to at the stroke of midnight each New Year’s Eve.

But it’s all too easy to pigeon-hole Burns as purely a talented wordsmith. His poetic finesse is indisputable, but beyond ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and ‘Tam O’ Shanter’ – how much do most of us know about his poetry? This Burns Night, we’re reveling more enthusiastically than ever, but instead of admiring his verses, we’re looking at the man behind the quill. Join us in celebrating the other wonderful, lesser-known things about the Scottish Bard – and there are plenty to choose from. So as you raise your glass – or your kilt – to Scotland’s national treasure this Burns Night, keep these wee nuggets in mind:

1. He Was a Self-Made Grafter

Burns’ father was a farmer who taught himself to read and write. Whilst young Robert was lucky to receive some education, it was often sporadic and interrupted by farm duties, like harvest-time. He knew what it was to live in poverty and his health suffered as a result of early exposure to farm labour – he had a life-long stoop of the shoulders. Burns was a true grafter, building his writing, influential contacts and career piece by piece until days in the fields were a long-gone memory and his first volume of poetry was being snapped up across the land. Burns was the original ‘boy done good.’

2. He Made Love Not War

Burns fell in love… a lot. Whilst adultery isn’t something generally desirable in a national treasure (at least not in buttoned-up Britain) during his lifetime Burns fell in love with, married and had children by many women. Rather than being remembered as a scoundrel though, history – and the women themselves – recall him as a passionate artist… women were his muses, not concubines. Indeed, he once commented that, “The finest hours that e’er I spent were spent amang the lasses, O!” This sometimes over-zealous fondness for women led to the birth of at least 12 little Burnses and now there are over 600 relatives of Burns around the world… you might want to check your genealogy.

3. He Owned the Room

Once Burns’ success took off, he found himself rubbing shoulders with the aristocrats of Edinburgh society. But instead of suffering an inferiority complex, he owned every room he walked into... he was an 18th century Jay-Z. He stood strong and proud, didn’t say too much and was always dignified. A young Walter Scott encountered him at one of these gatherings, commenting later that “His person was strong and robust; his manners rustic, not clownish. A sort of dignified plainness and simplicity which came…perhaps from knowledge of his extraordinary talents.” Yes, Rabbie Burns had swagger.

4. He Believed in Power to the People

Way ahead of his time, Burns was thinking about – and speaking openly about – equal rights. He learned about the slave trade and wrote ‘A Slave’s Lament’ taking a keen interest in the abolitionist movement from its early days. Unlike other men of the time, he also believed women should have voices, were not merely property and deserved the same rights and freedoms as men. He supported the French Revolution and other revolts across Europe at the time… his forward-thinking beliefs weren’t always shared by the aristocrats in his circle (they wanted their necks to avoid the same fate as their French counterparts), but his passion for Scotland won their hearts.

5. His Candle Went Out Too Soon

At the age of just 37, Robbie Burns died. His professional future was at its brightest but his body was ailing – since his farming days, his heart had been weak. Following a tooth extraction (sorry, Dentist-fearers), he passed away at his home in Dumfries – tragically his last child, Maxwell, was born on the day as his funeral. As with all Greats who die young, we can only wonder what he may have gone on to achieve, both artistically and socially. His work influenced the Romantic poets of the next century and he instantly gained a place in the hearts of the Scottish people – the first Burns Night was celebrated just 6 years after he died and has been the brightest part of January – including the sales – ever since.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Foodies Festival Christmas in Edinburgh

Look Forward to an Indulgent Christmas in the Capital

With evenings beginning to grow darker and temperatures on a chilly descent, our attention is beginning to turn towards the most wonderful time of the year. There’s nothing the Scotsman team love more than hanging a red-ribbon adorned wreath on the stairway, decorating the grand tree in reception with gold coloured baubles and feasting on the many seasonal delights the North Bridge Brasserie chefs rustle up. However, with merriment not due to begin at the hotel until the 1st of December, we've been on the hunt for the perfect event to tide us over, and luckily we've found it…

Between the 13th and 15th of November, the EICC will be hosting Foodies Festival Christmas; ideal for getting us in the festive spirit and delighting the taste buds. The seasonal variation of the city’s already popular summer-held Foodies Festival will offer the chance to browse over 150 artisan producers at its vast Christmas market and pick-up cooking tips from some of the UK’s most acclaimed chefs…which should come in handy when recreating the contemporary and traditional recipes on offer. The likes of MasterChef: The Professionals Winner 2014 Jamie Scott, quaint cake café owners Three Sisters Bake and renowned Indian Chef Romy Gill will all be making an appearance at the Aga Rangemaster Chefs Theatre, where a selection of ‘Retro Recipes’ inspired by TV Chef Fanny Craddock will also be recreated including Baked Alaska, vol-au-vents and duck a l’orange.

When the many guest demonstrations inevitably evoke a feeling of hunger, the sweet-toothed can head straight to the Pudding Hall where they’ll be able to feast on mince pies, marzipan bonbons and Christmas cake, all washed down with eggnog and mulled wine. A Champagne Ski Bar will provide a stylish destination to sip on a glass of bubbles, while those keen to learn more can head to cocktail-making classes in the Scottish Gin Theatre or additional masterclasses hosted by wine and craft beer experts. There’ll also be plenty of family-friendly fun too with an Elf Cooking School offering gingerbread and snowball baking classes, as well as live music, carol singers, a photo booth and competitions.

This indulgent festive warm-up will provide the perfect palate training ahead of the 1st of December, when North Bridge Brasserie will begin to serve its temping seasonal selection. Christmas lunches and dinners will be available throughout the month offering up the likes of Scottish game terrine or organic salmon ballotine for starters, succulent free range bronze turkey or handmade tagliatelle with wild mushrooms for mains, and dessert options including bitter chocolate torte, a Scottish cheese selection and homemade Christmas pudding. However the seasonal treats we’re most looking forward to will be found during Festive Afternoon Tea, with tiers of sandwiches, cakes and biscuits washed down with traditional teas and roasted coffee.

However, those still feeling a little more Scrooge-like on the Christmas spectrum by mid-November can also look forward to Edinburgh’s Light Night and the arrival of the city’s Christmas markets. Singer Susan Boyle will join over a thousand performers to celebrate the switching on of the capital’s Christmas lights on the 22nd, while streets and parks will be lined with stalls offering European and Scottish festive treats, gifts and entertainment from the 20th. With such an array of fun-filled options to look forward to, excitement in our team is already building and we look forward to sharing the Christmas spirit with guests too.  Find our full selection of Christmas deals, dining options and party packages here, and join us for a truly indulgent Christmas in Edinburgh. 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Book Your Christmas Stay at The Scotsman Now

Here at The Scotsman Hotel, we’re big fans of forward-planning, anticipating every need, want and whim before we warmly welcome every guest. If you share in our passion for organising ahead, we think you may want to take a look at our luxury festive breaks or Christmas party packages, each of which offer an exciting array of seasonal experiences and are available to book now.

We can’t imagine a more attractive prospect than a fuss-free yet lavish Christmas, which is why we’ve gone about creating just that, complete witha welcome glass of Champagne for every guest, a classic film screening in our private cinema and an array of delicious culinary experiences. With a three-course Christmas Eve dinner, six-course Christmas lunch that’ll include homemade Christmas pudding drizzled in white chocolate, and a tempting serving of afternoon tea, we’ll deliver a feast-filled three night stay without you having to lift a finger. While those hoping to hit the sales in the most stylish way possible can opt for a two night stay from the 27th that includes a £50 shopping voucher and 25% off Aveda treatments at the Scotsman Spa, ideal for a post-shopping pamper.

We’re also experts in letting our hair down. Fully versed in organising exciting events, we've made sure our Christmas party packages will deliver the most fun possible. From just £49pp, each guest will be greeted with a glass of Champagne, served a delicious three-course meal and offered the chance to dance the night away to music mixed by our resident DJ, while other add-ons available include tempting canapés and pre-party Aveda tanning treatments. However, our biggest night of the year is without a doubt Hogmanay, when guests can enjoy a Champagne reception, be piped into the award-winning North Bridge Brasserie and served a six-course gala meal… before being offered a special ‘hangover’ breakfast the following morning.

Despite delectable dishes and five-star entertainment, we can’t claim to be the only attraction in Edinburgh this festive season. Find fairy-light lit shop windows displaying tailored tweed suits and stacks of first-edition books along the winding cobbled streets of Grassmarket, while rows of designer boutiques in the New Town will offer a sleek selection to please even the pickiest of recipients, from cosy, Burberry scarves to luxurious leather Mulberry bags. Over the road, a Scottish Christmas market will boast hand-crafted goods, artworks and local delicacies in St Andrew Square, while a traditional European Christmas market in East Princes Street Gardens will also provide an inspiring gift selection.

Beyond present buying and sales shopping, the ever expanding line-up of events will ensure every taste and age is accounted for. Face-painting, a Christmas tree maze and an array of rides will await at Santa Land for little ones, who can also enjoy a trip to The Lyceum to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or the Snow White & the Seven Dwarves pantomime at King’s Theatre. Meanwhile, the European premiere of Scottish Ballet’s Cinderella will be performed to Prokofiev’s score at Festival Theatre, and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, named one of the ‘top 100 things to do before you die’, is set to attract over 70,000 visitors. Join a four-stage street party, torchlight procession through the city, the UK’s largest outdoor New Year ceilidh and much more during the city's unique New Year celebrations.

If you think the atmosphere in Edinburgh is magical during the summer Festival season, you’ll be mesmerised by the capital this December. With such an array of attractions and world-class entertainment on the door-step, as well as indulgent fine-dining experiences and luxurious accommodation, there's so much to look forward to after booking your Christmas and New Year at Edinburgh’s The Scotsman Hotel. 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

A Sensational Summer in Edinburgh

Watching the sun set over Portobello beach, joining the swathes of festival goers to see world-class comedy acts and enjoying the succulent taste of Blairgowrie strawberries... these are just a few of our favourite summertime activities in Edinburgh. Every year, our city basks in the glow of hosting such an incredible events programme, and there’s nothing more beautiful than a wander around a sun-soaked Royal Botanic Garden either. All in all, we can’t think of a better destination to spend the summer months and with this in mind, we've put together three exciting offers so that every guest can get the most out of their summertime stay in Edinburgh.

Though we’re obviously a little biased, we like to think we can offer the best five-star stay in the capital and for us that means an all-round outstanding experience. Great location is a must, as are spectacular views. Interiors that combine historic Scottish charm and state-of-the-art facilities are a given… and the soft Egyptian cotton sheets? They’re an added bonus, but we don’t think it would be a luxury stay without them. A 60-station gym, 16.2 metre pool and Aveda spa help too, and well, it wouldn’t be a holiday without trying local delicacies. Our summer special offer includes 25% off a la carte dining at North Bridge Brasserie, our very own award-winning restaurant, meaning each guest will have the chance to sample delicious dishes including our exclusive haggis recipe, squid ink tortellini and homemade ice cream, at a discounted price during a five-star stay. 

While taking the chance to explore the city, it’s not uncommon for guests (and team members) to feel a little weary after fighting through the Royal Mile crowds. However, we have two luxury remedies for festival fatigue to ensure everyone can be back on their feet and ready to enjoy another fringe show or two in a matter of hours. First up is a delectable serving of Summer Afternoon Tea at North Bridge Brasserie. Combining finger sandwiches, freshly baked cakes and the refreshing taste of a strawberry mojito, we can’t think of a finer way to refuel this summer. If a stronger course of action is needed, our Scotsman Spa team will deliver the three P’s for £75pp. Polish, Pedicure and Prosecco. A 30-minute Aveda body polish will nourish skin, a 45-minute Stress-Fix pedicure will combine reflexology and soothing scents to truly pamper toes, and a glass of Prosecco will offer the chance to indulge just a little more.

Between a star studded EIFF and sizzling heatwave, an exciting summer has already started in Edinburgh and we’re looking forward to offering you the warmest of welcomes at The Scotsman.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Just In: Exotic Animals Roaming Edinburgh City Centre

There have been some highly unusual sightings reported across Edinburgh in recent weeks. Visitors to Princes Street Gardens have been startled by the bright blue flashes of poison arrow frogs, while alfresco diners in St Andrew Square claimed to have been momentarily joined by a Giant Panda chewing on bamboo. Penguins have been spotted parading along Princes Street and visitors to Edinburgh Castle said they saw chimpanzees moving quickly through the streets below.

But there’s no need to panic. Edinburgh Zoo is fully aware of the situation, and infact, helped organise it. No, the zoo hasn’t flung open its wrought iron gates, it's actually launched a range of new graphics in collaboration with Lothian buses. Some of the zoo's most popular inhabitants have had their image emblazoned on a fleet of route 26 buses, which transport visitors to the zoo from the city centre and beyond. However, this isn't the first time Edinburgh Zoo has let a few of its occupants leave its confines and take a wander through the historic streets of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Zoo’s Penguin Parades have become world-famous, with many TripAdvisor reviewers stating it was the highlight of their visit. It began in the 1950s when a zoo keeper left the enclosure open by accident and realised that he was being followed by a line of penguins. This led to the spectacle becoming a daily feature, with the birds wandering around the entire zoo, and even along Corstorphine Road during the 1960s. More surprising yet is footage of them venturing further into the city centre with a horseback police escort! Nowadays, the Penguin Parade continues to delight visitors, with approximately two thirds of the penguin population taking a stroll around a 200 metre route inside the zoo at 14:15 every day.

Penguins weren't the only animals that were allowed to wander outside the zoo back in the 1960s. Zoo Director Gilbert Fisher used to walk ‘Scrappy’ the cheetah on a leash around the zoo and along Corstorphine Road! Though it received a lot of attention, this display of showmanship was quickly put to an end when a back firing motorbike led to the cheetah taking off quickly, giving Fisher a fright.

Though bus graphics are the closest you’ll get to seeing exotic animals in the city centre now, hop onto route 26 and you’ll soon be face-to-face with some of the world’s most beautiful and impressive animals, fish and birds. Edinburgh Zoo is only a 16 minute bus ride away from Princes Street, located just a 4 minute walk from The Scotsman Hotel and there are also many unique experiences and events on offer, including the Penguin Parade, to ensure a p-p-p-perfect day out for the whole family.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Couples Health Club Membership in Edinburgh

As a well-oiled working machine, our team know better than most that a little bit of encouragement can go a long way. Whether it’s a simple a pat on the back or full-on motivational coaching, we can all benefit from having someone there to help us reach our potential. Out of work, partners are great at providing that extra push towards living life to the fullest and with fitness key to a healthy journey together, who could be better in helping you achieve goals at the gym? Knowing this, we’re offering the chance to enjoy full five-star facilities at the Scotsman Spa & Health Club together with Couples Gold Membership.

As well as reaping the rewards of a joint workout, benefit from discounted Gold Membership rates at only £50 per month per person when signing up together this February. The perks don’t end there though, with the chance to enjoy Aveda treatments with up to 50% off, indulge in a romantic meal for two at North Bridge Brasserie with 25% off the food bill and perhaps even treat yourselves to a luxury stay at The Scotsman Hotel from just £99. Alongside access to the 60-station gym and 16.2 metre long pool, you can also enjoy some downtime together, relaxing in the sauna and steam room, or by taking a dip in the Jacuzzi.

Spend a little more quality time together and work towards each other’s goals by signing up for Couples Spa Gold Membership now. Contact Francesca Mair on +44 (0)131 622 3800 or email for further details.