Backin the summer I spent a lovely night at Dalhousie Castle, in Midlothian, about ten miles out of Edinburgh. I grew up in this area, and had been to Dalhousie once or twice before, but never stayed the night. It’s a proper 13th Century castle, and recently bought over, it’s currently undergoing a revamp to bring it up to five star status.
I was invited along to Dalhousie Castle by lovely Chloe from Darphin. The French brand have recently gone into the Dalhousie Aqueous Spa and I was there to try out their Essential Vitality Awakening Facial. The spa really is tiny, but perfectly formed! There are just three treatment rooms, but they were the first hydro spa in Scotland, and have a lovely multi-massage jet pool, an Ottoman Turkish style steam room, a tropical rain and cold fog shower, Kneipp footbaths, and a Laconium – a Roman sauna, and a Tepidarium – where you can relax and look out across to the River Esk that flows past the castle.
My Essential Vitality Awakening Facial was excellent, but I can’t write an honest review without mentioning the overpowering smell of the therapist’s fake tan, every time she swept her hands over my face. I was deeply disappointed by this. I am caught between whether I think it’s wrong to allow therapists to tan or not. I know that back in the late 1980s when I studied to be a beauty therapist (I dropped out after a year – yep, beauty school drop-out!), everything had to be white, hair was immaculately tied back, nails were clean, makeup was a certain style, and well, fake tan didn’t really have the popularity it has now, but it was outlawed at my beauty school.
It has such a strong smell – no matter what the tanning brands say today, that smell pervades – it’s really off-putting. Anyway. There, I said it.
Now, as for the treatment itself, it was great. Full of gorgeous products, and lovely massage movements that awakened my skin. It’s both uplifting and relaxing, which is no mean feat. My skin looked brilliant afterwards. I was a little freaked by the muslin face mask which is part of most Darphin facials, but I breathed through my slight attack of claustrophobia, and my skin definitely benefited!
I couldn’t fault the teatment, other than the fake tan smell, which was just disappointing.
I stayed in the lovely, if a little tired, Mary Queen of Scots suite at Dalhousie Castle, and felt like moving in! It had the cutest little turret room with a desk in it – I will be sure to book this room when I am writing my second best-seller, I wish! I understand that all rooms will be refurbished eventually, but I do hope they don’t lose their individual charm.
The meal at the Dungeon restaurant was lovely. There is an old-school formality about Dalhousie Castle that I did find quite amusing at times, but it fits with the surroundings. The Dungeon is a quaint restaurant, with several rooms. Whilst we dined, a very small wedding was taking place in the room next door!
The Library bar where you enjoy a drink before dinner at The Dungeon is cosy, comfortable and quaint. Floorboards squeak as you walk on them, it is VERY easy to get lost, and I was so scared in my castle room I slept with the curtains open all night!
The next day, following my treatment, we watched preparation for a wedding that day, and if I ever get married, how I would LOVE to do it at Dalhousie. Did you know they have a falconry, and you can get an owl to deliver your rings during the wedding ceremony?! How fab is that? They also have the cutest little chapel where your wedding can take place, religious or not.
Dalhousie Castle is a lovely place for a break – the setting is beautiful, it’s no time at all from Edinburgh, the food is great, the spa is small but perfect, and I can’t wait to see the five-star makeover.
The Darphin Essential Vitality Awakening Facial is £60 for an hour long treatment. Visit the website at dalhousiecastle.co.uk for a full spa menu of treatments and offers. Visit Darphin.co.uk for more about the brand.