To arrive at Fletcher’s Cottage Spa is to arrive in Narnia. Nestled on the spectacular grounds of Archerfield House, the atmosphere is immediately soothing, peaceful and remote. So remote, in fact, that myself and herself were lucky to find it. (This, I hasten to add, is more a reflection on us than the spa, which is clearly signposted). The several minutes of sisterly bickering (“you’re supposed to be navigating”, “you’re driving too fast to read the signs”) and fraught detour, however, are instantly forgotten as we happen upon an enchanting, single storey structure. Created from wood and glass, encircled by trees and surrounded by succulents; we have found the cottage.
Stepping onto the flagstone floor, I feel my coiled nerve endings instantly unwind. The smell is intoxicating, essential oils laced with fresh air and the suggestion of an open fire. We are invited to take a charmingly upholstered seat, coats removed and shoes stored away. Blended carrot juice served in tulip shaped cut glass appears, alongside a comprehensive questionnaire. I merrily sip my juice, ticking the boxes that best describe my perpetual mental and physical state (verging on hysterical and stiff as a board) before being shown to a private changing room unlike any I have encountered before. Each wood panelled room contains a waterfall shower, a chain pull toilet, Liddell Ireland robes, professional standard hair styling equipment and a tray of beauty products so luxurious that by the time I have removed my make-up my confused skin feels as though it has already undergone a professional treatment. If I have one small criticism of the changing facilities (and it is small) it is that they are currently without an extractor fan. Post shower, my room filled with steam, hindering my hair style and rendering me blind but effectively dry cleaning the silk shirt I had carelessly flung on the back of the door.
After safely storing our possessions away, we are given a tour of the cottage starting with the open plan boutique where an array of delicious products from luxury brands such as Sisley, Voya and Spiezia Organics are available to purchase. Tiered rows of cleansers, serums and moisturizers glisten next to vials of essential oils from Beatitude and Aromatherapy Associates. Scented candles and sea salt scrubs sit on natural wood shelves above a row of enticingly bright and shiny Hunter boots. As a person with limited (a.k.a no) willpower in the face of such temptation, I silently thank the universe for storing my credit card in the changing area and out of arms reach.
The space flows freely into the relaxation room that is the heart of the building, anchored by a wood burning stove positioned in the centre beneath low lying wooden beams. Different textures such as linen, fur and cowhide give the room a luxurious yet rustic edge. Next we are shown the various treatments rooms, one notably paved with Himalayan salt bricks to improve inhalation and help to balance the minerals of the body. This room, explains our guide, perfectly captures the holistic approach favoured by Fletchers Cottage Spa, where even the walls are designed to supercharge a treatment. Outside we are shown the individual huts complete with log burning stoves and claw foot tubs where seaweed and aromatherapy baths can be taken.
Our tour ends in the spa area, where we are scheduled to while away an hour before beginning our treatments. Here we explore the aroma sauna, the Rasul mud room and the marine steam chamber. All guests are clearly warned not to stand near the steam vents, a warning I promptly forgot as soon as it was issued, causing me to shatter the restful atmosphere by shrieking the place down when a steam jet scalds my leg. Thankfully, a fridge full of complimentary mineral water was immediately to hand. I doused my leg with ice cold Highland Spring and was once more ready to commence my treatments.
I am led by my massage therapist to my assigned treatment room. After a quick discussion with my therapist I choose an essential oil (rose) and clamour onto the absurdly comfortable heated massage table. A thick down quilt dressed in spotless white linen creates a cosy cocoon. For the next hour I am transported, emerging from the room feeling relaxed and uplifted. Not even the fact that my eyes were not covered while lying on my back (normally a pet hate, I have to fight a persistent urge to open them because I know how unsettling that would be for everyone) could distract me from my hypnotic state.
I sit for several minutes on a plump sofa, cradling a cucumber water and feeling deliriously light before being led to a second room for a deluxe pedicure. The room itself is stunning, with plush armchairs facing a large window so that guests can gaze out at the garden while receiving the treatment. I choose a Leighton Denny polish (Vamp) and sit down, wondering what to expect. I am usually sceptical of ‘luxury’ pedicures (the best pedicure of my life cost $10 from a street side pop up in Vietnam) but chose this treatment as part of the Harmony Package. I can safely say that my head has been turned. As I relax on the chair eating slices of pineapple and enjoying a smoothie, my feet are massaged, soaked, exfoliated, covered in a deeply hydrating mask and placed in a pair of heated slippers. Once removed from the slippers, petal soft, my toes are expertly polished. By the time that the hour long treatment is complete, my feet have been transformed.
My treatments completed, I retire to the relaxation room for afternoon tea. Over a selection of bite sized sandwiches, cakes and scones I have time to reflect on my experience. All in all, Fletcher’s Cottage Spa is phenomenal. That such a place can exist just 40 minutes from Edinburgh city centre makes it all the more impressive. The setting is heavenly, the barefoot staff are kind, knowledgable and welcoming and the prices, I feel, are very fair, especially considering the level of care and luxury provided. Stuffing a pastry into my mouth while admiring the garden, I confidently conclude that my next visit cannot come soon enough.