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Travel: Rest, relax and be pampered? Say spa at the Blythswood in Glasgow

© Damian RussellBlythswood Hotel Lobby.
Blythswood Hotel Lobby.

At this time of year, when daylight is replaced with an omnipresent blanket of grey clouds, it’s only natural to daydream about hopping on a plane to some far-flung island paradise, where cocktails and swimwear replace hot water bottles and jumpers.

Or at least, that’s where my mind wanders every time the little weather icon on my phone turns into a snowflake or drop of rain.

I’ve always hated the cold (I am most decidedly “nesh” as my lovely Scouse dad would say), and I will go to extreme lengths to avoid even one goose pimple marking my flesh, skyrocketing heating bills and Michelin Man layers be damned.

So, imagine my surprise when a recent overnight staycation at one of Glasgow’s best hotels saw me willingly venture into sub-zero temperatures wearing nothing but a swimsuit and slippers – and love every second of the experience.

With their award-winning wellness facilities currently closed for refurbishment, the bosses at the five-star Kimpton Blythswood Square hotel have come up with a clever new Scandinavian-inspired spa experience, which guests enjoy while exposed to the elements.

Housed in a secluded courtyard garden under a canopy of twinkling fairy lights, THAW, the city’s first outdoor spa, boasts an open-air hydrotherapy hot tub and an aroma-infused steam room, as well as two four-seater infrared saunas, one of which bathes the user in meditative music specially created by sound therapy producer Brian D’Souza. All the benefits of a relaxing self-care stay and no passport queues? Sign me up.

Visiting with my best friend, Rebecca, we first checked into our room overlooking the beautiful Blythswood Square Gardens, before donning fluffy robes and quickly making our way down to the pop-up spa, where we were greeted with glasses of Champagne. Hot chocolate is also on offer to beat the chill, but I always find fizz pairs particularly well with a bubble bath – or hot tub, if you like.

Stepping outside from the cosy spa reception it was easy to forget the hustle and bustle of the city was only a few metres away, with the humming of jets and bubbling water the only noises to punctuate the quiet and tranquil setting.

For close to an hour, we did a little circuit of the facilities, feeling more and more relaxed with each dip and steam, until it was time to retreat back indoors. While the renovations are on-going, the spa’s full treatment menu is still available, so we both pre-booked a 55-minute full-body massage to help us feel knot-free and blissfully relaxed.

Each of the spa’s treatment rooms is bathed in candlelight and the heavenly aroma of Ishga beauty products, which the therapists use for every appointment, so it was hard not to fall asleep as my shoulder muscles got some much needed attention. If you work at a computer, see this as your sign to book a massage, stat!

Feeling like new women, we headed back to our room for a quick change (and a gin and tonic from the mini bar) before dinner at the hotel’s popular restaurant, Iasg, which also boasts a beautiful central bar decorated with sea-green tiles.

Named for the Gaelic word for fish, the eatery’s menu, unsurprisingly, boasts the very best Scottish seafood, including Cumbrae oysters and Shetland mussels, as well as bistro classics such as fillet steak and venison haunch.

Luckily for me, veggies and vegans are well catered for, and we enjoyed a delicious two-course meal before finishing with a freshly-poured espresso Martini and a classic margarita, served with Scottish Mara seaweed salt along the rim. Fed, watered and still relaxed, we headed straight to bed.

Tucked up under sheets so luxurious no alarm clock could compete, we were glad to wake just before breakfast in bed arrived at the door, complete with fresh coffee, juice and two perfectly posh fry-ups.

After just shy of 24-hours living like royalty, being pampered, poured drinks and plied with food, we left Blythswood walking on clouds – and if you are looking to feeling similarly chilled out, I couldn’t recommend a visit more.


After extensive renovations, the upgraded Kimpton Blythswood Square spa will open in spring 2023, and will include a new blissful “wellness area” and unique snowfall feature.


Rooms at Kimpton Blythswood Square start from £189 (low season). Visit