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The best spa hotels in the Scottish Highlands – relax, unwind and take in the stunning scenery

From a grand, baronial hotel to an off-grid wellness retreat, pick the perfect spot for your next getaway

Francesca Street
Wednesday 05 April 2023 15:47 BST
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Portavadie is a glossy, £10m development on the banks of Loch Fyne
Portavadie is a glossy, £10m development on the banks of Loch Fyne

If we told you to close your eyes and picture the Scottish Highlands, what would come to mind? For us, it would undoubtedly be a neverending, undulating landscape peppered with romantic castles and shimmering lochs.

Technically defined as “a mountainous region encompassing northwest Scotland”, the Scottish Highlands are ideally placed for your next holiday. You could go dolphin spotting in Moray Firth, hike Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK, or spy red deer as they roam Glencoe Valley.

Alternatively, you could visit one of the many locations throughout the Highlands that have been featured on the silver screen. Think the Glenfinnan Viaduct from the Harry Pottermovies or Glen Etive, which provides the backdrop for hits such as Braveheart and Skyfall. You could even go in search of the legendary Loch Ness monster – the Loch, along with the Urquhart Castle ruins, sit right in the middle of the Highlands and are definite worth a visit.

But as much as there is to see in this part of the world, it’s also a wonderful place to stop and just relax. Thankfully, to help you soak up the scenery, there’s a number of spa retreats to choose from.

Whether you’re looking for a place to unwind after battling the North Coast 500, or are simply looking for a getaway that really does let you get away from the hustle and bustle of normal life, we’ve found the best spa hotels in the Scottish Highlands.

The best spa hotels in the Scottish Highlands for 2023 are:

Best hotel for Loch views: Portavadie Marina

Neighbourhood: Loch Fyne, Argyll

Portavadie Resort makes for a welcome pit stop
Portavadie Resort makes for a welcome pit stop (Portavadie Resort)

This glossy, £10m development on the banks of Loch Fyne comprises loch-view apartments and Scotland’s largest outdoor heated infinity pool, as well as an indoor pool, gym and sauna, steam room and hydro pools heated by a woodchip biomass generator. Swimming in the outdoor pool at dusk, on the edge of the glistening water, marvelling at the mountains of Arran is an unforgettable experience.

After a morning or afternoon (or both) spent soaking, tuck into local venison or seafood at one of the marina’s two restaurants. Accommodation includes dog-friendly bungalows and apartments, the 11-bedroom Lodge and Tighnamara, a retreat for two on the lake shore with a wood-burning stove and panoramic deck. There is also easy access to the picturesque fishing village of Tarbert via ferry, where a popular seafood festival takes place in early July.

Best hotel for activities: Isle of Eriska Hotel

Neighbourhood: Argyll

Isle of Eriska Hotel
Isle of Eriska Hotel

The Isle of Eriska is a private, 350-acre island at the mouth of Loch Creran on the West Coast. Linked to the mainland by a bridge, Eriska comprises a grand baronial mansion that serves as the main hotel, two luxury hillside self-catering lodges, a Michelin-starred restaurant and a spa. There is a library with an Art Deco fireplace to retreat to on blustery days, while Eriska’s outdoor pursuits range from archery and mountain biking to croquet and golf. The Stables Spa uses locally harvested seaweed in some of its treatments, while facilities include a rasul mud chamber, indoor pool, thermal suite, Jacuzzi and fragrant spa gardens.

Best hotel for self-catering: Whitefalls Spa Lodges

Neighbourhood: Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Whitefalls Spa Lodges
Whitefalls Spa Lodges

The Isle of Lewis is the largest of the Outer Hebrides, famed for aquamarine water and sandy beaches that – on the right day – could almost pass for the Caribbean. This pair of self-catering cedar cottages is an ideal launchpad for exploring Lewis’s delights. Each comes with its own hydro pool and sauna, while treatments can be booked in advance to enjoy in the privacy of your lodge. Don’t fancy cooking? Award-winning gourmet meals using local, organic produce can also be delivered, or head to nearby Stornoway for super seafood.

Price: Lodges from £1,795 per week for two guests

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Best hotel for eco-friendly relaxation: EcoYoga

Neighbourhood: Argyll

EcoYoga
EcoYoga (James Gassop)

A place to reconnect to nature. EcoYoga usually runs retreats throughout the year (for example, a relax and restore yoga weekend in late July and beginners’ ashtanga in September).

A geodesic glass dome houses a large hot tub for all-weather soaking, there’s a grass-roofed sauna with spring water plunge pool and two baths hewn out of rock in a nearby river gorge, one of them overlooking a waterfall. The retreat is off-grid, powered by solar panels and a water turbine, and vegetarian dishes make use seasonal produce from the gardens.

The site is currently undergoing some renovations, so the formal retreats are currently postponed. Check the EcoYoga website for further updates.

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Best hotel for contemporary design: Coillabus

Neighbourhood: Islay

Coillabus
Coillabus

Soak up the views of Islay from a spring-water-fed cedar hot tub at these environmentally sensitive lodges. The dry stone, glass and turf-roofed bothies overlook the RSPB Oa Reserve, so choughs and golden eagles often put in appearances outside. A’Mhoine Bheag looks over Glenastle Lochs and the Atlantic, while An Cnocan Dubh looks towards Kintyre. The midcentury-meets-contemporary design is enhanced by free wifi, a high-spec kitchen and iPod docking station. In addition to the outdoor hot tubs, there’s also a sauna in each, wood-burning stove and double-ended bath, and holistic treatments can be booked in advance. Fridges can also be stocked with fresh, Islay produce.

Price: From £1,350 per week for couples November to March, from £2,150 per week for couples April to October

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