Away Spa at W Hotel Edinburgh

The lowdown

The W Hotel Edinburgh has courted controversy with its brave bronze-ribonned building and has been nicknamed the ‘Golden Turd’ by disapproving locals who weren’t convinced of its Midas Touch. The W doesn’t blend into the city’s historical stone cityscape, and nor does it try to. Like all W hotels, it’s proud to be different, preferring a modern aesthetic and celebrating living in the moment to reflecting on the past. And there are subtle nods to its location and heritage in artworks by local artists and materials used, which reflect Edinburgh’s geology.

Away Spa is arguably the best spa in Edinburgh – without a swimming pool, but with a large hydro pool and sauna in the exclusive Elements spa suite, plus four large and lovely treatment rooms. There’s a dual treatment room too, making it perfect for couples or friends looking to spend quality time together.

The hotel has two restaurants, a couple of stylish bars and a roof terrace with 360° views of the city. Waverley Station is just a few minutes’ walk away, and the hotel’s within easy reach of the historic Old Town, Royal Mile and Edinburgh New Town, so it’s easy to get around if you’re looking for a city break base.

Spavellous for

Couples, solo spa seekers, a city spa escape, fans of modern design, anyone seeking some serenity in the city or a party and pamper celebration.

Spa info

Away Spa at the new W Hotel Edinburgh has four minimaluxe treatments rooms, inspired by the elements, and each with its own special features and treatments. They’re all spacious and super-comfortable spaces that come with everything you need for your pamper fest, including robe, slippers and a changing area.

The Earth treatment room has a large table with warm quartz sand that envelops you while you experience a grounding Himalayan salt stone massage.

Water has a hi-tech waterbed with resonating sound and vibrations creating a unique and deeply relaxing experience.

Fire offers a warming and soothing experience with hot stones to melt away any stress and tension.

Air has a large treatment bed where you can enjoy a light poultice massage, promoting detoxification.

There’s also a self-contained and luxurious double treatment room where couples or friends can book in for the soothing Time for Two De-stress Massage. With twin massage tables, rain shower, bathroom and beauty station with Dyson dryer and straighteners, it has everything you need for a relaxing retreat à deux.

And then there’s Away Spa’s Private Spa Suite, the Elements Suite, an exclusive stand-alone modern space with its own supersized jacuzzi, sauna and experience showers which can be booked for groups of up to five people. We haven’t experienced anywhere quite like it, and it’s a particularly special place for a relaxing and restorative retreat as everything is brand new and immaculate. Plus, it has its own changing space and loo so you can retreat there for hours. We love the little touches too, like the fresh fruit smoothie shot and the luxury shower products. The Elements spa suite can be booked on its own in combination with treatments, including in the double treatment room next door.

You can also pick your Away Spa treatments by wellness goal. Massage options include: Performance, De-stress, Reset and Detox, and you can add on ‘enhancements’ from the menu, including a facial peel, Theragun treatment, Eye Recovery mask, and ice or wooden rollers.

There’s a good range of facials too, including Rejuvenating and Detoxifying facials by Skin Regimen, Daily and Rewind facials by Comfort Zone and Ishga’s personalised Hebridean Prescription Facial.

On the body front there are masks, scrubs and nutrient-rich seaweed wraps. And, if you just can’t decide, the Harmony Fusion treatment combines the best of everything, with a scrub, hot stone massage, facial and scalp massage for a top to toe treat.

Treatments are bookable from 11 am to 7 pm.

The hotel also has a fitness centre with Technogym equipment and a manicure/pedicure station is coming soon.

Treatment highlights

As soon as I entered Away Spa, I was greeted by a member of the spa team and offered a choice of healthy smoothie shot while I filled in my consultation form. The minimalist shell pink reception has a pretty seating area that can be curtained off to create a private space for small groups looking to enjoy a pre-treatment glass of fizz.

I was booked in for a back massage with a foot treatment in Fire.

We headed down the minimalist corridor, illuminated by colour-change light, to Fire, a lovely large treatment room with its own shower and changing area. I loved that it was a self-contained space, so I didn’t need to get changed in a separate room and work out how to use a locker etc.

The therapist left the room while I got massage-ready and into the soft spa robe provided. She returned with the fresh carrot and ginger smoothie, that I’d chosen when I checked in. Nice touch. Then, she placed a warm wheat bag around my shoulders to get a head start on the relaxation process while she talked me through the treatment. She went through a couple of things on my consultation form, and confirmed the level of pressure I wanted for my massage.

Next, she placed a dab of oil on four separate cotton pads and asked me to pick my favourite, or at least the one I felt most drawn to. These were Comfort Zone’s four aromatherapy oil blends: Oriental, Mediterranean, Indian and Arabian. The Oriental and Indian scents were both calling, but I plumped for the softly scented Oriental oil as it had a slightly calmer vibe, containing Ylang Ylang, jasmine and vanilla. The therapist then went away to blend the oil while I made myself comfortable on the reassuringly wide treatment table.

She started the treatment by asking me to take three deep breaths, to inhale the aromatherapy oil which she’d placed under the face hole in the couch. Then, she put a rolled towel under my ankles to elevate my feet, making sure my comfort was optimised, which it was. Next, she cleansed my feet and applied a foot mask before getting to work on my tense shoulders and back. The massage was flowing, and medium-firm, as I’d requested, so it felt both relaxing and effective which is just what I wanted.

I loved that I could have a treatment where a decent amount of time was being spent on my back, neck and shoulders, as this is where I needed it most.

Once the therapist had finished working her magic on my back, she returned to my feet, removing the mask and pressing them dry with a towel, which felt particularly pampering as my feet don’t usually receive much attention. This signalled the end of the treatment, and the therapist left me for a few minutes to return to reality, and my robe, before heading to the Elements Suite.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from the Elements Suite but it sparked serious joy for me. A beautifully designed minimalist space with a large jacuzzi, sauna and experience showers. I loved the idea of having the suite all to myself – I didn’t even have to leave to get changed, shower or use the bathroom as the suite has everything. There were nice touches too like the fresh smoothie shot, iced water and Momo shower products. And double doors led to a huge couple’s treatment suite for use by anyone who’s also booked a massage.

Once I’d stopped taking photos of the pristine room – it’s crying out to be Instagrammed! – and hopped into the shower, I climbed the few steps into the jacuzzi, kicked back and enjoyed stretching out and being gently buffeted by the jets and bubbles. It felt like a real privilege to have the whole place to myself. I then had a quick play with the experience showers, preferring trial and error knob-turning to reading the small-print instructions, and surprised myself with various modes, jets and light colours. Next up was the infra-red sauna. Again, a luxury to have the cabin all to myself. Following some quick rehydration and a cool-down, I flitted from sauna to shower to jacuzzi, and, before I knew it, my hour was up. Turns out time flies when you’re enjoying some solo spa time!


I didn’t stay at the 12-floor hotel this visit, but checked out a couple of the 244 rooms, and they were as cool and contemporary as I’d expected. The decor flies in the face of the ‘quiet luxury’ trend, preferring loud and proud design peppered with playfulness. Wow Suites boast balconies with views out to Edinburgh Castle and the city beyond, and some have their own fire pits too. The Extreme Wow suite, W’s take on a Presidential Suite, has floor to ceiling windows and a revolving round bed. Again, Instagram gold, and fun to be able to switch up your view.

Guests we spoke with loved the strong aesthetic and ‘positive energy’ of the place. One couple wasn’t won over by having a panel to separate the bathroom from the bedroom – a feature which often divides the room figuratively as well as literally in our experience – but was otherwise equally chuffed.

For anyone who likes things a little more traditional, there are 39 rooms housed in the W’s Georgian townhouse building opposite, where the design is dialled down a tad whilst still channelling the essence of W.

There are several accessible rooms in the new building that have roll-in showers. Children can stay at the hotel, and would love it, but the hotel has more of an adult vibe.

wining & dining

After my spa experience, I floated up to the 10th floor to meet friends and sample the delights of SushiSamba, a restaurant offering a fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisines.

According to our friendly waitress, the Sushisamba concept was inspired by the owner of the restaurant chain’s love of the cuisine he discovered when travelling in South America. In particular, that of Japanese communities in Brazil. I admit, I was slightly sceptical about this culinary combo at first, but was quickly won over by the complementary flavours, and specifically the Shrimp Tempura with a pokey mayo and black truffle vinaigrette.

The lively SushiSamba bar also serves creative cocktails, premium Japanese sakes, and an array of Scottish and Japanese whiskies, to enjoy with a side of Edinburgh city views.

The hotel’s second restaurant is the W Lounge on the eleventh floor which is open for breakfast and all-day dining, majoring on sharing plates and Scottish specials. It’s a great place to enjoy a sunset cocktail or two.

View seekers should head up to W Deck, on the hotel’s roof, which rewards anyone pressing 12 in the psychedelic lift with a 360° city vista.

why so spavellous?

The hotel is still settling in, but is already fabulous. It’s a cool place to be, with delicious dining options, great bars and a good times vibe. It successfully blends the W’s trademark on-trend design with a sense of place, with Scottish elements evident in everything from the artworks and furnishings to whisky cocktails and spa treatments.

The spa offers a feel-great experience, with imaginative and original treatments in a luxurious space. The Elements private spa suite is special and is a treat for solo spa goers and groups alike. And the option to enjoy treatments in the adjoining double treatment room gives it next-level indulgence potential.

Staff are friendly and helpful and the fact that everything’s brand new and sparkling adds to the sense of luxury.

The hotel’s central location is a bonus too, making it easy to nip to the shops, spend some time in the Grassmarket or hop on a train at Waverley Station.

spavellous tips

The Elements Suite makes a great experience for a birthday or hen celebration.

There are lots of treatments on offer, with different massage beds and add-ons, so it’s worth talking with the friendly spa team if you want some guidance.

If you’re celebrating, you might want to check out the hotel’s swanky suites.

W Edinburgh would be a fun place to stay during the Edinburgh Festival in August.

spa-goers say

‘I booked the Elements Suite for our first wedding anniversary, and it was perfect! I thought it was decent value too.’

‘My girlfriend booked the Elements Suite for our anniversary and it was really cool!’



1 St James Square, Edinburgh EH1 3AX


Photo: Spavellous
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