Spa Junkie at... the Guerlain Spa, Edinburgh

Our supine reporter combines skin-gymnastics with multi-mask relaxation in the ultimate facial workout

Feet exfoliated and back massaged, Spa Junkie’s face is ready for the royal treatment…

Time for the grande dame of facials: Orchidée Impériale Prestige Treatment. My therapist explains that the facial involves three vigorous massages that use a “skin-gymnastic” technique, and one 25-minute Guerlain Method Massage, all using Guerlain’s oxygenating creams. She will switch from deep massage sequences to softer, more relaxing ones. She says that only a select few therapists specialise in this massage technique and that it took Guerlain 10 years of research, in the Yunnan jungle, to devise this orchid-based skincare regime. I am expecting great things. The treatment begins with a manual cleansing ritual using fine-haired Kabuki brushes, specially developed by Guerlain. She uses them to gently caress my skin in carefully choreographed, delicate movements, lathering the thick cleansing foam cream into a silky paste that glides over my face. This is followed by a toner made from rare orchid water (which my therapist explains is obtained by hydro-distillation of the stems, leaves and flowers), and a steam. My skin prepped and ready, Orchidée Impériale Serum is applied. She uses a brush, moving it in horizontal lines, starting with my chin, then on to the sides of my nose and forehead. The serum is formulated with orchid butter, to nourish and moisturise, and feels silky smooth. Afterwards, my skin feels instantly hydrated, like it has taken a deep drink. Then begins the first of three gymnastic massage sequences; at five minutes long it involves intense pressure and lifting techniques that reputedly stimulate muscle tone and redefine facial contours. My skin feels a flush of warmth as the pressure is applied, blood rushes to the surface, and my circulation fires up.  

The 25-minute Method Massage is softer, involving gentle circular movements combined with a more energetic sequence where my therapist places her hands on either side of my chin, moves them up towards my eyes, before sliding outwards. It’s soothing and relaxing.   Next comes the second of the gymnastic massages, using the same technique but focusing on my neck – placing her hands at its base and moving them upwards, until her fingers overlap behind it. Afterwards she gently layers on a Revitalizing Serum.

For the final massage, she turns her attention to my décolleté – she places her hands flat on my chest, fingertips facing each other, and draws them outwards while pressing firmly. The last stage is the Ultra Hydrating Sheet Mask. Mask removed, my therapist offers me an eyebrow shape or eyelash and brow tint; I opt for a tint. And while this sets I’m asked if I would like a paraffin hand wrap. I am intrigued. My hands are placed in gloves filled with warm molten paraffin, then massaged with a rich hydrating cream. The sensation is odd, but rather nice. “Would you like a touch of colour?” asks the therapist. I nod, even though my dinner plans consist of me, myself and I enjoying a room-service menu. She brushes my face with a light touch of Guerlain blush. I’m guided back to the relaxation room, which echoes the reception’s gold-glamour theme. If it wasn’t for the hushed voices and blissful quiet I would have thought I’d stumbled into the hotel nightclub, such is the decor. I lie with my eyes shut for 15 minutes, beyond relaxed. The Bottom Line


I love the old-school glamour of The Caledonian and the Guerlain Spa is a fabulous way to spend an afternoon; I thoroughly enjoyed my multi-treatment whirlwind.

After the facial, my face felt soft, noticeably firmer and had a dewy freshness it lacked on arrival, while my hands remained silky smooth for days following the paraffin wax.

While the signature Edinburgh Caledonian Chic massage did little to set me alight, the Orchidée Impériale Prestige Treatment is a perfect pick-me-up – the succession of rituals with carefully choreographed techniques provided the ultimate pampering experience and felt wonderfully indulgent. I particularly liked the use of brushes in the cleansing treatment – I savoured the long, gentle and precise strokes. I’d recommend booking this treatment in advance.