In Partnership with VisitScotland
It’s been a year, to put it mildly. From home schooling to Zoom overload, the past 16 months have been unprecedentedly stressful, and so there’s nothing we crave more than chucking out our laptops (or at least, stashing them in a drawer), packing our bags, and getting away from it all for a few days.
Just how do we take a breath, reset and decompress after the year it’s been? By booking the next available train to Scotland, of course.
An exceptional destination for wellness, Scotland is a haven of wild swimming, soothing lochs, breathtaking coastline and serene, wide open spaces – and frankly, it’s just what the doctor ordered after a year spent staring at our screens. So seriously, in fact, do the Scots take getting back to nature that VisitScotland’s themed year for 2021 is Year of Coasts and Waters. And boy, do they live up to their hype. (If planning on enjoying water activities on your wellness getaway, ensure to follow advice from Water Safety Scotland.)
Combining world-class hospitality with spectacular scenery, Scotland may seem like a whole world away, but it’s so close to home and packed with hidden gems across all four corners that it’s well worth taking a trip. Ready to go? Here are the stunning wellness spots you need to add to your summer bucket list ASAP…
The Scottish wellness retreats you need on your summer bucket list
Nothing beats a spa break, and lucky for us, Scotland is home to some of the best of them. When it comes to panoramic views combined with first-class facilities, Taymouth Marina on Loch Tay gets our vote every time. From a hydrotherapy pool to a HotBox sauna, who needs a trip abroad when you’ve got this gorgeous self-catering luxury spa in the heart of Perthshire?
In Argyll & The Isles, the Isle of Eriska Spa is as lavish as it is tranquil; while Airth Castle Hotel – with its luxurious spa and opulent surroundings – is something that has to be seen to be believed.
If you’ve been threatening to run away from your phone all year, now’s the time to do it.
Scotland is home to some of the most magical off-grid retreats in the UK – from the Tree Howf treehouse at Craighead Howfs near Dunblane, which offers wholly unique luxury glamping, to the Holy Isle Mindfulness Retreat on the Isle of Arran, a peaceful Buddhist island that truly is the perfect escape from the madness. If you can’t quite sit still and prefer to unwind with crafting or cooking, then Wild Rose Escapes near Inverness is the stuff of dreams.
Walk It Off
Walking is good for the soul. Or at least, walking in Scotland is. Scotland boasts amazing walks in all four corners of the country – the only difficult bit is choosing one. If you’re looking to recalibrate, The Way of St. Andrews is one of the greatest pilgrimages of the world – with ten routes ranging from 6-279km, each one as beautiful as the last. In the Scottish Borders, meanwhile, the Borders Abbeys Way – a 103.8km circular route – is lush and peaceful; while the four historic abbeys you’ll pass on your journey are great sanctuaries for personal reflection.
Or find your space on the St Magnus Way in Orkney, a beautiful 55-mile pilgrimage trail through Orcadian history celebrating the life of Orkney’s patron saint, St Magnus.
If you find being by the water as restorative as we do, Scotland is also home to some of the most spectacular waterfall walks around. Topping our walking wish list are Linn of Ruthrie Falls in Moray Speyside, and Loup of Fintry by Stirling.
A wellness holiday doesn’t have to mean going completely off-grid – a city break to peruse some of the country’s incredible galleries will also do the trick. Often places of calm and solitude in the middle of the city, Scotland’s museums span everything from heritage and history, to contemporary art. In Glasgow, the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), housed in a stunning neoclassical building in Royal Exchange Square, is a must-see; while in Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland is a museum lover’s dream come true.
The Perth Museum and Art Gallery might be one of the country’s lesser hyped galleries, but it’s wholly unique and well worth a visit if you’re in the area. Oh, and don’t forget about Aberdeen Art Gallery. Hosting the British Art Show from now until 10 October, it’s a beautiful exhibition space in one of Scotland’s most exciting cities.
And of course, there’s the V&A Dundee – a first-of-its-kind for the country, with exhibits spanning everything from fashion and engineering to video game design. (It helps that there are some incredible restaurants, pubs, cafes and a brand-new city beach right on its doorstep, too.) Be sure to catch the V&A Dundee’s current exhibitions, Night Fever: Designing Club Culture and What if…?/Scotland before they go.
If it’s off-grid you’re after, though, the Isles of North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist in the glorious Outer Hebrides boast an incredible sculpture trail set against the island chain’s famously stunning scenery.
Ready to book your ticket? Before you set off on your Scottish wellness break, please make sure you check the latest government guidelines, and always plan and book ahead. Travel responsibly and where you can, choose to support local, independent businesses with your tourism. We’ll bet that they’re just as excited to see you as you are to see them. Please note, face coverings are required in Scotland. Find out more practical information around Covid-19 in Scotland here.
And…. relax. If you’re stuck for inspiration when planning your Scottish getaway, head to the VisitScotland website for a comprehensive guide to everything Scotland has to offer.