A trip to the seaside with The Gailes Hotel & Spa

Scottish Field’s Rosie Morton yearned for a coastal break, and she found The Gailes Hotel & Spa a welcome escape from the city’s bright lights…

I love city life. I truly do. Waking up to a Monopoly board’s worth of coffee shops, brunch stops, and shopping havens is something of a wonder. But having spent the vast proportion of my life by the seaside, there comes a point when the undulating waters of Scotland’s coastline beckon once more. Besides, having stared at the four walls of our city homes, channelled our inner Nigellas (to varying degrees of success), and exhausted the pile of books on the bedside cabinet during Covid-induced confinement, it’s time to reboot our Great Scottish Wanderlust. Pack the bags. Start the car. Time for a road trip.

The beauty that is the south-west of Scotland is, of course, no secret. A feast for the eyes at this time of year, canopy after canopy of rusty-coloured leaves led the way as I drove a mere two-and-a-half hours from Edinburgh to Ayrshire’s The Gailes Hotel & Spa.

My room, shown to me by Jack Simpson – son of the family-run SimpsInn dynasty – was cosy, comfortable, and had a view overlooking The Gailes’ bandstand where a wedding was shortly due to take place. Indeed, it was the staff that made this place shine. If Jack could have stood on his head to please, I’m sure he would have done. (More on that later).

The Gailes Hotel bedroom.

But I can go no further without mentioning the Si! Spa, which opened its doors at The Gailes in August following a £2 million makeover. An hour in the Thermal Suite? Don’t mind if I do. Boasting a vitality pool, steam room, sauna and ‘relaxation area’, I almost instantly convinced myself the excesses of Halloween party food had been lifted.

The second half of my ‘Fall into Si! Spa’ package involved a back, leg and scalp therapy session using products by ishga. Derived from the Gaelic word for ‘water’, ishga infuses spring water with a ‘potent extract of Hebridean seaweed’. Throw in the words ‘antioxidants’ and ‘anti-ageing’ and I’m sold. The 55-minutes of hot stone massages, scrubbing and buffing were quite possibly the quickest of my entire life.

Treatment room at Si! Spa, The Gailes.

I might still be in their relaxation suite if it weren’t for the stomach rumblings suggesting it was time for a light lunch. Sat in a lounger overlooking the manicured lawns (berry smoothie in hand, of course), I had no sooner closed my eyes than a perfectly prepared Cajun chicken salad appeared before me.

The hotel itself is placed right by Irvine Beach, so I decided to continue the coastal ‘spa’ experience by enjoying the salt sprays from the Firth of Clyde. The sunset that evening was comparable to a Jolomo painting – bright oranges and rich blues that you’d scarcely believe hadn’t been Photoshopped, plastered on canvas, and incorporated into a mammoth coastal art trail. I’m almost certain that Jack Simpson had personally arranged it for the wedding party.

An Ayrshire sunset. [Rosie Morton]

The Coast Restaurant & Bar was next up on the itinerary. Continuing with the ocean theme it was decked out with lobster plates, ship rope lighting, and a turquoise palette. The dinner offerings were eclectic, ranging from seared salmon cassoulet to a Moroccan spiced vegetable crepe. The shin of Ayrshire beef that I ordered – which a lovely waitress informed me was from K Young Farm in Girvan – was so tender it fell apart and could easily have fed half a school rugby squad. I had boldly pre-ordered dessert (a sticky toffee pudding with Arran ice cream, what else) which appeared (and disappeared) in a matter of moments. Delicious.

Shin of Ayrshire beef, The Coast Restaurant & Bar.

The true highlight was, undoubtedly, Si! Spa, and being based along the Firth of Clyde only added to The Gailes experience. I’m still revelling in the post-ocean-spray highs of my coastal retreat.

To find out more about Si! Spa, its autumn and winter packages, or to make a booking, click HERE

For more on the SimpsInns Group, click HERE