There's something rather special about Cameron House. It helps that I've spent a week every October here since I can remember, but I'm certain you'll find just the same connection on your first visit. It's a gothic-looking five-star hotel nestled on the edge of Loch Lomond in the Trossachs National Park that lords over much of midwest Scotland. It's easy to get sucked in by the grandeur of the hotel (all wood paneling and modern tartan furnishings; it's pretty spectacular), but what I'm here for is the spa. And what a spa it is.
A little annoyingly, the spa itself is two miles up the road at the hotel's sister site, The Carrick. You can go just as a day guest, but if you're staying at the hotel, they'll put on a shuttle bus to get you there and bring you back again after, so really it isn't any fuss at all. This is the place I go when I fancy a really good nap, and there's plenty of opportunity for that.
The spa itself is bright and clean, but far from clinical or stuffy. It's the kind of place that you enter and your shoulders immediately fall towards the floor and your breath seems to get slower.
The spa is like a rabbit warren of floors and rooms, and there's a variety of experiences to fill your time. On the ground floor, there's a 20-meter pool where you can swim lengths or simply relax in. Above that, you'll find a selection of saunas, aromatherapy steam rooms and hammams, as well as an infrared sauna, the new buzzy wellness pursuit that everyone seems to be loving right now.
There's also a rather aggressively bubbly hydrotherapy pool that will pummel the knots out of your back before your therapist has even had a chance. And I like to spend a good hour or so reading on the heated beds in the tepidarium—they are like these mosaic-ed loungers that look really uncomfortable (see above) but are actually the complete opposite. I mean, they're comfortable enough that they've sent me into a deep snooze on multiple occasions.
The main event, however, has to be the rooftop hydrotherapy pool. If you can get past the bracing cold that assaults your body between taking your robe off and entering the steaming water, you'll soon realize it's more than worth it. You can spend a good half an hour in here looking out at the incredible views: Look one way and you'll spot the serenity of an 18-hole golf course, and at the other lies a landscape of snowy top mountains. Dreamy.
There's also a really sweet little cafe that serves delicious sandwiches, salads, cake, and coffee because, as you'll know, this much relaxing builds up a rather large appetite.
I've been suffering from loads of tension in my shoulders, so on my most recent visit, I decide to book in for the hot stone massage and asked the therapist to really ramp up the pressure. If you're a massage novice, however, I'd recommend asking for medium pressure—there's nothing worse than feeling like nothing is even happening.
My therapist has the hands of a bread kneader, and she really gets in there to relieve the pain that was building up in my back. They use Carita skincare for the facials and ESPA body products for the massages. My therapist chooses ESPA Fitness Oil (£34) for me, as it contains Indian bay and clove bud, which are great at melting uptight muscles. I'm so obsessed I've been using it all over my body ever since. The massage itself is pretty hardcore. In fact, I would go as far as to say it's pretty uncomfortable in parts, but I walked out feeling lighter, looking taller and with limbs lither than ever before, so something must have worked.
After the treatment, you get access to the relaxation room, which feels like a Moroccan lounge. The beds are so comfortable you'll be hard-pushed not to fall asleep.
The Insider Tip
Really pay attention when the therapist tells you the door code for the changing rooms. You don't want to get locked out of there!
The Finer Details
Location: Cameron House, Alexandria, Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, Glasgow, G83 8QZ
Directions: The spa is approximately a 45-minute drive from Glasgow. Alternatively, the nearest train station is Balloch, which is a 10-minute taxi journey from the spa.
Cost: £49 per person for access to the spa facilities. Facials and massages start at £89 or a Deluxe Manicure (using Jessica polishes) costs £49. Spa day packages start from £99.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.