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Travel: An Ayrshire haven where relaxation is a shore thing? Si!

© Mike CrosslandSunset in Ayrshire
Sunset in Ayrshire

It’s 8am and I should be packing a bag while daydreaming of an imminent spa trip that’s going to kick off a second honeymoon for me and my husband.

Instead, my car battery has died, there is a yellow warning for wind and, to top it all off, I realise I’ve read the booking confirmation wrong and we need to leave immediately to make it to the spa on time.

But, if anything can make you forget about a disastrous start to the day, followed by a cross-country drive from Dundee to West Kilbride in torrential rain, it’s spending a couple of hours unwinding in the Si! Spa at The Gailes Hotel.

From the coast-inspired decor to the contrasting gold and blue lighting in the thermal suite, the spa (which recently underwent an extensive £2 million spa makeover) offers an instant reprieve from the weather.

We have time to spare relaxing in the thermal suite, something I highly recommend – with a vitality pool, sauna and steam room, as well as a rainforest shower and relaxation area. By the time of our treatments I’m feeling pleasantly sleepy and peaceful.

We’re being treated to a “Be Two-gether” couple’s spa package, which means we both get to indulge in a Rasul experience followed by two other treatments (we both go for back, neck and shoulder massages, while I also pick an ishga seaweed hand and foot therapy and my husband opts for a scalp therapy).

Si! Spa at The Gailes

I’ve never had anything like the Rasul experience before – and I love it. We head in to our own private area with a steam room where we’re instructed to slather on a layer of salt, before adding another layer of seaweed-infused mud. We’re a bit giggly at first, but soon the room fills with steam so we can’t see how funny the other looks, and we get to relax on our own benches.

After the steam has faded, we rinse ourselves off and pop to the treatment room next door – but not before marvelling at how soft our skin already feels.

Si! Spa has a double treatment room for us to share but five minutes into my amazing back massage and I completely forget about everyone around me. By the time my foot treatment starts, I’m in such a blissful semi-consciousness I probably wouldn’t even remember my husband’s name if someone were to ask. But it’s nice to share the experience, and to have someone there to force me to get up and move to the relaxation lounge once the treatment ends.

Alas, the massages may be over but the VIP treatment isn’t as we make our way to the spa lounge for afternoon tea and a wee tipple – it’s all great, but the cakes are particularly delicious. As well as the treatments themselves, this is another area Si! Spa excels. There’s comfortable indoor and outdoor seating, an outdoor hydropool and an outdoors fire pit, with a casual but welcoming atmosphere that puts you at ease.

The firepit

We’re spending the night at The Waterside Hotel (part of the SimpsInns family of hotels), so we take the 15-minute drive there and check in. While our hotel room could maybe be a little bit more plush, it’s spotlessly clean and the view looking out onto the Ayrshire coast is spectacular.

We’re booked in that night for dinner at The Waterside Restaurant and Bar, in the hotel. It’s a cosy and warm place, which we discover is dog-friendly, with a dedicated area for guests and diners to sit with their canine pals and enjoy a great meal.

And great it is! The menu has lots of options, which is a rarity for me. I have a nut allergy so eating out can be tricky, but the waiting staff make sure to check my order and, like all the staff we encounter during our visit do, make me feel comfortable.

I enjoy a classic Cajun crepe packed with veggies and flavour, while my husband has black pudding and haggis pakora to start and a melt-in-the-mouth treacle cured shin and fillet of Scotch beef for his main.

The drinks are also amazing (try the mango daiquiri) and we plan to have more before bed, but we’re both so happily stuffed after dinner that we head back up to our room to enjoy an early night.

Claire enjoying tea and tipple

Breakfast the next morning is another treat before we face the drive home. The scrambled eggs are some of the best I’ve had in a hotel while Gary sticks to pastries and coffee. Although we’ve only been away one night, it’s been a brilliant coastal escape from all the stresses of normal life – and an ideal getaway to relax as a couple.

We didn’t have much time to enjoy the surrounding area before driving home, but the location on the coast is perfect for a little post-breakfast walk or a refreshing wander after a Si! Spa day.

P.S. We didn’t have much time to enjoy the surrounding area before driving home, but the location on the coast is perfect for a little post-breakfast walk or a refreshing wander after a Si! Spa day.


For Gailes Hotel info call 01294 204040 or visit

Find out more about the Waterside Hotel at