A holistic urban retreat in Edinburgh

Neal's Yard Therapies
Neal's Yard Therapies

NO need to hibernate, this urban escape will provide the physical and emotional nourishment you need

The treatment

Winter Elixir Urban Retreat for two at Neal’s Yard Remedies, Edinburgh, 9am-1pm Sundays, £165pp.

Why go?

If you want a bit of pampering with a pal but are in need of something that works on a deeper level than, say, a body scrub or manicure.

Our spy says

My easily recruited sister and I arrive bang on 9am, to be greeted with a choice of herbal tea or sweet turmeric milk by a bright, smiling and bushy tailed holistic team of four. There’s counsellor and yoga teacher Beverley Bruce, massage and facialist Jodi Fox, complementary therapist Gillian Hills and reflexologist Morag St Johnston. We’re already wearing comfy yoga-ish clothes, and it’s straight into one of the therapy rooms with Beverley. The opening hour-long yoga session is the least strenuous I’ve ever had; it’s all about breathing, gentle stretches, meditation and relaxing poses. Beverley props us up using cushions and bolsters so we’re always comfortable and supported. The session ends with us lying under blankets, in the yoga nidra (conscious sleeping) position, breathing into each part of our bodies.

My stress levels have plummeted to basement level and we’re only a quarter of the way through our morning. Next, we’re decanted into the main shop area, which is closed, for a superfood session with Gill. This involves testing some of her healthy recipes. There are addictively crunchy chia seed crispbreads, raw chocolate mousse made from dates and coconuts, a smoothie with bananas, goji berries and aloe vera, and a smoked pepper hummus. All as delicious as their unhealthy equivalents. We are impressed.

Then it’s on to the hour-long reflexology session with Morag (my sister is in the other room, enjoying the same treatment with Jodi). We’d filled out a form before our visit, so she knows about any health concerns and has already planned what areas to focus on. My feet are gently and methodically pressed and rolled, until I’m practically drooling.

The final 60 minutes involves a holistic facial from Jodi (and sis gets Morag), who’s a great advert for this treatment. There’s less of a focus on products than in your average facial. Instead, the emphasis is on stimulating the muscles and skin of the face and décolletage, and getting the circulation pumping. It’s pleasurable as well as efficacious. I’m glowing like a polished chestnut.

The results

I’ve found myself some festive Zen. If I could do this every Sunday until the end of time, I would. A few days after, I’m sent the recipes from the retreat, plus meditation and breathing exercises, so I can carry on the winter elixir at home.

• 102 Hanover Street, Edinburgh, 0131-223 3223, www.nealsyardremedies.com