We’re heading into what is arguably the most stressful time of the year with shopping to do, increased social commitments and a pile of work to get off our desks before we get to shut down both body and mind for a blissful holiday break (if your work, like mine, takes it off of course, I’ve been there and am acutely aware that the retail and hospitality sectors will be hitting their busiest period!). At the same time, there’s this niggling need to look “Christmas party ready” at the same time as crappy weather conditions and increased reliance on central heating is playing havoc with our skins and us introverts would rather snuggle under a blanket with a box of mince pies than squeeze into a sparkly bodycon dress.
While Macdonald Hotels’ new festive spa package is pitched at those searching for an escape from the madness or a spot of pre-Christmas pampering, I’d argue that some of us are particularly deserving of a break this December. Like my pregnant bestie, within weeks of her due date. Or a financial/business journalist you might know, who’d spent the previous week trying to summarise the 587-page EU Withdrawal Agreement in a single, commercially-focused news story.
Macdonald Hotels operate 20 spa facilities across the UK. Their Scottish locations include Macdonald Forest Hills Hotel and Spa in Aberfoyle, Macdonald Inchyra Hotel and Spa near Stirling and Macdonald Crutherland House, just outside East Kilbride, where Jehane and I spent a blissful recent #FreelanceMonday. Because that Monday boss of mine works me hard.
Available until 31st December, the festive spa day is available across Macdonald’s spa hotels. It includes a 55-minute ELEMIS Couture Touch treatment (and 20% off any additional pre-booked treatments), full use of the spa facilities with robes, flip flops and fluffy towels, and a wee festive mince pie and glass of prosecco before you head home.
Located 15 miles from Glasgow Airport – or nine from my house – Macdonald Crutherland House is easily accessible from Glasgow by car, with over 100 parking spaces available for guests. And with a designated driver to rely on this time – sorry, Jehane – I wasn’t complaining this time about how the hotel’s idyllic country setting made it difficult to get to for those of us generally reliable on public transport.
On arrival, we were greeted by spa manager Laura with our robes and towels, as well as instructions for using a simple plastic card to access the pool area and spacious lockers for our things – no rummaging around for coins or easy-to-lose keys! She even had an extra-spacious robe set aside for Jehane, in what was just the first quietly thoughtful extra little touch I noticed during the day.
We immediately settled in at the poolside on some comfy loungers with our books and magazines – we’d brought our own, but there were a selection there for the browsing too. It being a Monday, we had the pool area pretty much to ourselves all day – and the whole space was toasty warm and the perfect relief from the freezing temperatures outside.
Sure, the water itself was a little chilly – as we quickly discovered, when we took a quick dip after lunch – but with both a sauna and steam room available, the options are there if you want to warm up afterwards! I’d actually been having a bit of a flare-up of what is becoming my fairly regular sinus troubles on the day of our visit, and even though I’ve never been a fan of steam rooms Jehane suggested I take one for the team and give it a go (both were off-limits to pregnant guests). I confess I didn’t last the full recommended time, but what a miracle if you’re having sinus problems – if you’ve any tips for replicating the effect at home, do let me know.
While the festive spa day package doesn’t include food, there’s a bar/cafe area and plenty of comfy seating where you can enjoy sandwiches or meals from the bar menu – or, of course, afternoon tea. Since we knew we had a mince pie to look forward to later on we decided to stick to sandwiches – although neither of us could resist a side of crispy, garlic parmesan fries, cooked so well I’ve been attempting to replicate them at home ever since.
Unfortunately, the lounge area also features a couple of TVs tuned to the news channel on silent – which is why, when our therapists arrived to show us to our treatment rooms, they found me spitting at Theresa May attempting to sell the House of Commons on the Withdrawal Agreement. “I think it’s time for your massage now,” said Jehane, rolling her eyes at me.
While it’s fair to say that the pool area at Macdonald Crutherland House, although super cosy, could probably benefit from a lick of paint, the same cannot be said of the treatment rooms – which are state of the art. The ELEMIS Couture Touch treatment included in the festive spa package incorporates your choice of deep tissue or deep hot stone massage plus an indulgent facial using luxurious ELEMIS products, tailored to your requirements.
Spa manager Laura asked a few questions about my current skincare routine and concerns before getting to work – first on the massage, where with a bit of effort she pummelled the Brexit-related knot just under my left shoulder into submission, and then on the facial. The combined effect was so relaxing that I think I drifted off towards the end of the facial: turns out heated massage beds are a game-changer, my friends.
Afterwards, Laura gave me a list of all the products she used (the gorgeously-scented Papaya Enzyme Peel was a particular favourite, as was the Peptide4 Thousand Flower Mask), as well as some tailored skincare recommendations. The festive spa package includes a £5 voucher to be redeemed in the spa store on the day, and with some gorgeous gift sets on offer for Christmas you’ll be spoiled for choice whether you’re spending it on yourself or somebody else.
The recovery room is one of my favourite bits of a spa day, and I had plenty of time to chill out with ice cold, citrus-infused water and fresh fruit while I waited for Jehane to finish her treatments (Laura had thoughtfully scheduled her a little extra time in case she needed to get up and move around). When we met up she was also raving about the papaya peel, so I think it went well.
An added bonus of bringing your pregnant (and designated driver) bestie along for a spa day? Double the prosecco for you! Admittedly, I’ve never been a fan of the stuff but I actually really enjoyed Macdonald’s choice of fizz – although nothing beats a cuppa (also included) when you’re enjoying a warm mince pie.
The Macdonald Hotels festive spa day starts at £44.50 per person. Worth it? Well, on the drive home I realised I was in the mood for another box of mince pies, and to load up my festive playlists a whole five days early – which, for this very stressed financial journalist, was a Christmas miracle indeed!
We were treated to the festive spa day at Macdonald Crutherland House for review purposes, but all views are my own and unbiased. Macdonald Crutherland House exterior, swimming pool and treatment room photos used courtesy of Macdonald Hotels.