The Spa at The Balmoral in Edinburgh
Saturday's wedding of Zara Phillips, the Queen's granddaughter, to Mike Tindall, captain of England's national rugby team, revives Edinburgh's reputation as one of the most effortlessly romantic cities in Europe. I check in to the spa at The Balmoral a mere day before the bride's entourage colonizes the hotel. By far Edinburgh's most regal respite for royal wedding guests, the hotel's spa offers bridal party pampering on a grand scale. To ease into the swing of things, I test their Big Day treatment, designed to calm even the most jittery of nerves. Cold feet? They warm right up when you start your day basking in comforting essential oils of frankincense, fragrant ylang ylang and balancing sandalwood. We start with a De-Stress ESPA Essential Body Massage, a mindful ritual to ground a flight-risk bride or panicked groom. My therapist is a kink whisperer, incredibly adept at tapping and neutralizing my knots with a simple cupping of her hands, breaking down tense muscles and pinched nerves.
The treatment adds finishing touches to hands and feet with a Jessica Prescriptive Manicure and ZenSpa Pedicure, relexing yet precise enough to be picture perfect. By the time I slide into the pedicure chair, I'm spaghetti soft and prepped for polish. As my manicurist moves from toes to ring finger, I'm limbered up enough to wonder if I shouldn't chat up that single clansman concierge. Moreover, this Balmoral pedicure "throne" makes you feel every bit the princess, even if you're not, like Ms. Phillips, 13th in line to the crown.
A soothing blend of essential oils eases tension while the massage focuses on the effects of stress in the back, neck and shoulders. Ultra-hydrating moisturizers used in the pedicure smooth and soften dry, cracked heels.
The Balmoral conjures conjugal metaphors at first sight - nestled in the bosom of the kingdom, this Edinburgh landmark proves fertile ground for romance with its ravishing Scottish baronial style. Geared to total escapism, the spa here encourages pre-treatment relaxation in the Finnish sauna, Turkish steam room and sunken 15-metre pool. The subterranean sanctuary is a salve to the current mood in the streets - sportingly riotous, rather than flag-wavingly reverential. Compared with the regalia of Buckingham balcony kisses, the Phillips-Tindall ceremony on The Royal Mile was planned as an intimate, if not clandestine, affair. After all, the bride enjoys the discretion of private citizenry while the groom's adorable rugby-flattened nose would barely fit on a commemorative teacup.
The Spa at The Balmoral at 1 Princes St., Edinburgh; 44-131-556-2414; thebalmoralhotel.com; $155 for 160 minutes.