My top tips for getting the most out of the ‘Escape’ hydrotherapy package so you get the maximum health benefits of relaxing, de-stressing and detoxifying
It’s Christmas Day, 2014. The sun is shining. We’ve just finished a walk up Arthur’s seat (dressed in our Santa Run suits of course).
Our family dinner is not until Boxing Day. So what do we do? Watch TV while gorging on chocolates, cheese and mince pies? Or…….do we put our favourite Christmas pressie to use……
Annual conversations with my mother:
Mother: What would you like for your birthday?
Me: Gift voucher for the One Spa!
Mother: What would you and ‘J’ like for your Anniversary?
Us: Gift vouchers for the One Spa!
Mother: What would you and ‘J’ like for Christmas?
Us: Gift vouchers for the One Spa!
I love trying new things and letting you know how I make out but now I’m going to let you in on a little secret and share with you my favourite place to relax in Edinburgh…… You guessed it – The One Spa!
I first came with my husband many years ago when we stayed a night in the Sheraton. We usually pick hotels with a nice fitness/relaxation area but we were blown away with the hydrotherapy facilities at the Sheraton and even now we have never found anything that comes close. Luckily you don’t need to be a hotel guest, or even a member to enjoy a day of relaxation at The One Spa. The unique hydrotherapy suite can be enjoyed on its own as The ESCAPE at ONE package, or as part of a therapy package for the ultimate in pampering and relaxation.
A hotel with a spa attached. Like us, you’d probably expect a single depth, warm pool with a small round hot tub on the side with a sauna and a steam room tucked in each corner and a couple showers stuck to the wall. And, in Edinburgh, most of the other city centre 5* hotels are in old buildings – beautiful but not conducive to all the mod cons and the only place to stick the pool, little round hot tub (if there even is one) corner sauna and steam room is in the cellar. The Sheraton is unique in that it is a modern building with a completely separate purpose built spa in the back courtyard. And the hydrotherapy suite is not stuck in a dark, dingy cellar but takes pride of place on the top of the modern glass cube.
This cube houses Edinburgh’s only full hydrotherapy suite – a collection of hot/cold water based therapies that will steam, sweat and pummel the stress and toxins right out of every cell in your body! After a year of hard work and travel that involves several flights a month, that’s exactly what we needed so we were jumping with holiday joy when we called and found out that the spa was open on Christmas day.
This was our idea of holiday heaven but you really do need to be a water/heat lover to make the most of the Escape Package. If you’re only up for a quick dip in the pool and 2 minutes in the sauna you may not get the most out of the 11 zones. But if you’re a lover than you will be in HEAVEN! If you’re not sure how to make the most of the 3 hour Escape, then here are my tips to help you get the maximum benefit from each zone in this amazing facility, in my typical order…..
- Changing Rooms. You are provided with a big fluffy robe, towels, and flip-flops (if you’re new, your guide will show you where to collect these outside in the hallway). TIP: make sure to choose a locker with a spare towel in it – you’ll need it to dry off at the end. You only need to pack your swimsuit and a hair brush. The showers are stocked with ESPA shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. There are hair dryers, straighteners and ESPA body lotion in a dedicated vanity area separate to the huge locker room.
- The POOL! As you leave the locker room, a long narrow hallway leads you up a few steps opening up to a huge glass encased room flooded with natural light in the daytime; atmospheric lighting brightens dull days and adds drama to the evenings. The centrepiece is a 19m infinity-edge swimming pool surrounded by loungers, mosaic tiled showers and a small sauna. TIP – Wear your robe, leave one towel in the locker for after and bring one in for sitting on in the sauna, laconium and loungers.
We quickly rinse off in the poolside showers and ease into the warm water. Perfect temperature; perfect depth; perfect length. We usually spend 30 minutes doing laps; I also throw in some slightly embarrassing aqua aerobics moves. We could be here all day but we know what is waiting for us as we head up the ramp into the hydro suite.
- Lifestyle Showers (1). There are 2 of these. I recommend heading to the scented tropical rain shower first. I press the two small round buttons in the wall and fresh citrusy scented water lightly rains over my head; the side shower heads rinse me with warm water from head to toe. I just stick to the specialty nozzles but there is a normal wall mounted shower which you can use to rinse off between any treatments, controlling the temperature yourself.
- Laconium . This is our favourite room – yet so misunderstood! We often see people come in, sit for less than a minute, then move on. Oh, if they only knew what they were missing! The laconium is a warm, fully tiled room with heated floors and heated seats, curved to support your back and neck.
I put down my towel, sit in the centre and wrap the sides up over my lower body to keep the heat in. Then we sit. And sit. And wait. Maybe some people are expecting a ‘sauna like experience’? But we know better. After about 15 minutes the laconium rewards us with the most amazing sensation. We have become one with the room. The heat from the tiles has permeated every cell in our bodies creating an indescribable sense of peace and relaxation. TIP: Keep waiting! You’ll know it when it happens. It’s like you are surrounded in your own lightly heated, sensory deprivation cloud. Bliss!
- Back to the tropical rain shower and a cup of water from the fountain. Tip: put the empty plastic cup in your robe pocket. Saves wasting cups and it’s a good way to know it’s your robe.
- Rock Sauna. This is a traditional Scandinavian style sauna. Small, dark and with hot rocks so you can adjust the heat by adding water/ice. I like to use the egg timer on the wall and stay for the full session with maximum detoxifying sweat, but you can work your way up by staying a few minutes then getting some water and a cool shower before trying again. Or go rest on a normal or heated lounger (tepidarium) and come back. You have plenty of time, so by taking breaks you’ll really give your body time to adjust to these heat treatments.
- ICE! It’s really important to cool down between heat treatments and the One Spa provides normal showers, cold mist showers, rest areas and crushed ice. I can only do the ice rub when I am heated to the core – so after the sauna is the perfect time to head to the ice machine. I find this easier than a full body blast of cold water in the showers. I grab a handful of ice and rub it over my skin – starting from the feet and working towards the heart. If I’m still overheated – a nice lie down always helps….
- Tepidarium. The row of giant tiled loungers may look a bit odd but they are heated and perfectly formed to help the body relax, easing tired muscles and continuing the release of toxins. You may even nod off….
- Hammam Steam Room. This is one of 2 steam rooms. It is large, covered with dark, opulent tiles and scented with oils to help open your breathing. I have to confess, this is my least favourite zone. As I enter, I’m hit by a blast of heat (which stops some people from entering the room at all) but when I sit down on the benches, the temperature is much cooler. All that good scented steam is 2 feet up. My tip? If you prefer gentle heat – don’t let the entrance fool you – come in, sit, and breathe deeply. If you like it a bit hotter, there’s always steam room number 2…..
- Lifestyle Showers (2). The second scented shower provides cold menthol mist/fog to cool the body as well as a wall mounted shower if you want to be in control of your rinse temperature. TIP! The round button nearest to the entrance operates the gentle, scented overhead mist that surrounds your body like a cool fog. This is only button I am brave enough to use! The other round button operates the side shower heads which can feel very cold if you’ve just had a heat treatment. But go for it – you may be heartier than I am! Or go back for another ice rub.
- Aroma Grotto. Steam room number 2! A sign outside the door tells me which of 4 essential oils is in use today: Eucalyptus, Lavender, Chamomile or Jasmine. Today it’s Eucalyptus – a safe choice for winter. This room only holds 4 people so we peek in to make sure there is space before opening the door and letting the steam out. The hissing silver vessel works on a cycle. It’s quiet and not super hot when we enter but we know it won’t be long before it kicks in and blasts out the scented, hot steam. I’m not sure if the water running down my arms is sweat or condensation but either way it feels great.
- Pool . We used to just have a cold shower and a rest in the tepidarium but are now brave enough to head back to the pool area. We gingerly dip in a toe – wow! What felt so warm at the start feels cold now! But there’s no better way to bring down our body temperature than full immersion in the pool. Just a few laps this time before reheating.
- Bio Sauna. This is a lighter, brighter sauna with controlled temperature and humidity (no hot rocks and water). I prefer the rock sauna’s dark, cosy atmosphere but this is nice too. There’s a big one in the hydro zone but they’ve now added a new smaller one next to the pool. Great for dipping in and out like we do….
- Pool – A rinse in the shower and another quick dip in the pool. It doesn’t feel that extreme this time. Maybe it’s the anticipation of what comes next!!
- The crowing glory…… We head up the ramp to the mineral rich waters of the stainless steel Hydropool. This is not your typical hot tub – this is the size of a swimming pool! Actually 2 swimming pools.
We start in the indoor section. The hot, bubbly water is soothing but we know it gets better. The perimeter of this section is lined with jets all at different heights. These are great for ‘self-massage’. We move around the pool to find the perfect jet to pummel away muscular aches and pains. Just when we think it can’t get any more perfect – we swim our way into the outdoor section. This section is even more ‘bubbly’. The currents and torrents of water gently but firmly pummel any muscles missed by the precise jets. There are giant fountains gushing out streams of water that will force any tension out of your neck and shoulders. Metal rails along the side create a continuous underwater lounger – the gaps allowing the water through. Sitting in a giant, outdoor, rooftop hydropool – now this really is ‘Escaping’!
We could stay forever but eventually our fingers become wrinkly, and pangs of hunger remind us we still haven’t had our Christmas dinner.
- Back to the Changing Rooms for a power shower with fantastic ESPA products. It’s nice that there are plenty of changing cubicles and even a ‘salad spinner’ to wring out your wet swimsuit. They’ve thought of everything!!
As if all this wasn’t enough, the facility is clean and bright. The staff are welcoming and helpful; there is a healthy cafe where you can refuel – even while in your bathrobe and slippers!
And of course, free parking in the garage while you use the spa (just remember to get your ticket stamped).
Tempted? The Escape package is normally £70 (price in 2015) and there are numerous packages for Escape plus a treatment such as massage or facial. All details are on the website – and don’t forget to check their offers. Our visit on Christmas day was part of a special offer where weekday visits were only £45 which meant for only a small additional fee we could go twice – so of course we headed back on the 31st to sweat out 2014 – ready for 2015!!