Fletcher's Cottage Spa Visit
Let me first start by saying, I'm not the biggest fan of spas. I know they are supposed to be relaxing and havens of peace and tranquility, but I actually find some of them quite stressful. OK, so stressful is maybe a bit of an exaggeration but so many spas now have communal hot-tubs or rooftop infinity pools, that I find really uncomfortable. It's not just about feeling self conscious - I know I shouldn't but I still do at times - but if the hot-tub or whirlpool is occupied, I find I'm greeted with a either a glare that I've intruded someone's 'personal' space or it's a 'I-have-no-idea-where-to-look' situation as eye contact, of any kind, is clearly strictly forbidden. Also, while I find having a treatment done quite pleasurable, there have been a couple of spas I've visited where as soon as the treatment was over I've felt pressured to pop my clothes back on, pay up and head for the hills ASAP. Now, I think that perfectly OK for a salon tight on time and space, but in a spa? Not so much.
So I was relieved when I first arrived at Fletcher's Cottage Spa at the beautiful Archerfield Estate near North Berwick and was greeted firstly by a homely waiting area, seen below, and then by a huge chillout zone, also pictured below.
The spa is a 'no shoe' zone, so I was given some towelling mules while sampling a carrot and ginger juice (much nicer than it sounds) before entering the main room where there's a welcoming log burner, super comfy sofas and a selection of magazines, along with some naturally flavoured waters on tap and a bar/coffee area to cater for your every need - fizz included should you wish to truly indulge.
Lexi, one of the staff, showed me to a very well equipped changing room, pictured below, and then offered a tour of the facilities which include a steam room and sauna, a quiet relaxation room and some very pretty gardens. The gardens also house two bath huts (although huts is doing them a great disservice), one offering an aromatherapy bath and the other bathing of the seaweed variety, again pictured below.
With just over an hour or so until my massage, I made use of the steam room and sauna. Brightly coloured wraps, pictured below, are offered for anyone looking to protect their hair (or their modesty) and they were sourced from a women's co-op in Kenya - a nice touch.
There's also an ample supply of both still and sparkling drinking water offered, although one word of warning on water of a different variety - do not believe the shower button that says 'cool water'. It's absolutely freezing, so much so I actually yelped out loud - very loud - so be prepared.
Next up came my massage in a warm, spotless room with windows allowing some natural light in and with soothing music playing in the background. My therapist, Sarah, started the session with a feet soak (mine, not hers) and asked how I wanted to feel after the massage. I said relaxed but explained I was having dinner later so didn't want to feel so relaxed I'd fall asleep in my soup. She suggested using Aromatherapy Associates Revive Evening Body Oil, pictured below, to relax but also uplift me, which it did. Sarah most certainly had the knack of putting me at ease and her massage skills hit the spot - in particular a very stubborn knot in my right shoulder.
After my massage, Sarah advised me to take my time, drink plenty of water and meet her back in the chillout zone. And ladies, and any gents out there too, this is when I found that little niggle of stress raising it's head again as I was pretty sure that on that sofa would be where the sales push on the oils used in the massage would take place. But again, this lovely spa surprised me as when Sarah appeared she was carrying a sweet little smoothie drink and a micro fruit salad, pictured below, to revive me after the massage. No pamphlets, no lectures and absolutely no hard sell.
So will this spa visit make me less stressful about visiting my next? Possibly, but then again, it's also set the bar with its incredibly high standards, so perhaps it's the other spas that should be stressing themselves instead...
So what about you? What's your spa experiences, good and bad? Keen to know where to try next and where to avoid, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Photography by Susie Cormack Bruce
This visit was part of a Press Day treat organised by the retail chain Next and was neither commissioned nor paid for by Fletcher's Cottage Spa and as ever, all views are my own.