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Mar Hall Hotel (Bishopton)

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Earl of Mar Estate, Bishopton, Nr. Glasgow, PA7 5NW. Tel:0141 812 9999

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      08.11.2009 13:31
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      5 start hotel in lovely secluded setting

      I have just returned from a weekend at the Mar Hall Hotel, Bishopton and I just had to write a review to let you know of this beautiful hotel's existence. To be honest I had never heard of the place until friends suggested a weekend break which also included 2 hours of treatments in the spa attached to the hotel.

      The hotel is 5 star and is approximately 20 minutes drive from Glasgow city centre or, if arriving by plane, about 10 minutes from Glasgow airport. If you are wealthy enough to have your own helicopter then the hotel can accommodate you too as it has a helipad in the grounds. The hotel was formerly part of the Earl of Mar's estate and is located at the end of a long winding drive. The main building is an impressive 19th century Gothic mansion that was built in 1828 and two deer statues adorn the lawn in front of the entrance. As soon as we drove up the staff came out to greet us and help us in with our luggage.

      The entrance steps lead you straight to the reception area but just beyond you have your first glimpse of the wonderful Grand Hall Gallery. The Grand Hall has large picture windows, beautiful drapes and ornately decorated high ceilings. The furniture comprises large comfy chairs and sofas where you can relax, read the paper or have a light lunch or snack which are available from midday till 4pm. The windows provide great views to the well manicured lawns and tiered gardens. In the evening a pianist provides background music on the grand piano. It was Halloween the night we stayed and it rather shattered our illusion of our grand surroundings when the pianist smiled as we passed and displayed a set of fangs and had "blood" dribbling from his mouth!!

      The hotel has 53 bedrooms and suites. The majority of the rooms are in the original part of the house, however a number of bedrooms are in the spa area of the hotel which was added on about 4 year ago. As we had booked spa treatments, our bedrooms were in this part of the hotel which was good as this meant we could wander round in our fluffy white bathrobes and slippers, provided by the hotel. Although they are happy for you to wander in this attire in the spa area it is certainly not allowed in the main areas of the hotel.

      Our rooms were spotlessly clean and very spacious. My room had a large bay window with views over the River Clyde and the Old Kilpatrick hills. We also overlooked part of the new 18 hole golf course that only opened this summer. Located within a cabinet was a TV, DVD player, a mini fridge, a coffee percolator and various teas and coffee to suit varying tastes. A very contemporary looking CD player was provided on the bedside cabinet but I think it would be good if they mentioned this fact in their advertising material so that you would know to take some CDs with you. The en-suite bathroom was about half the size of the bedroom and comprised a large walk-in shower, two wash-hand basins, a toilet and bath. Aveda toiletries were provided and their products are also used in the spa. Three of us were sharing a triple room and I was slightly disappointed to see that the third bed was actually a sofa bed. It certainly was a large, comfy sofa but I still think that for the money we were paying I should have had a proper bed to sleep in. The price per person for 3 sharing was £255 each (including meals and spa treatments) hence the reason I thought I would have a bed! Those of our party who were in double rooms paid £275 each. It is certainly not a destination you would choose for a cheap weekend break but for a special treat it certainly was worth it. Two of our party who were not having spa treatments had a room in the main part of the hotel. They said that their room had similar décor but was smaller than those in the spa area.

      The Cristal dining room, where we had all our meals, was large and had views over the garden. On quizzing the waitress about the covered walkway that we could see, she informed us it led to where the Hello and OK magazine shoots usually took place. She did mention that previous guests, amongst others, had included Brittany Spears and Bruce Springstein. The food was nice and main courses provided an option of meat, fish or vegetarian. The portions didn't appear very large but once eaten, proved to be quite filling. Breakfast was a choice of buffet or served at your table. We opted for the former and were delighted with the choice of both hot and cold dishes. The fresh fruit was stunning - not an adjective I'd normally use to describe fruit, but that's how it looked!

      The Aveda Concept Spa, as mentioned earlier, is reached from the main part of the hotel by lift and then a maze of corridors. It has a reception area which also doubles as a shop selling the Aveda products. You are advised to arrive 10 minutes prior to your first treatment. This is to allow time to fill in a questionnaire about yourself and any aliments or surgery you may have had in the past. To complete the form you are shown to a room with sofas and coffee machine. Alternatively you are taken straight to the waiting area prior to having your treatment. This is a large room with subdued lighting and armchairs. There is a screened area at one end of the room with large wicker loungers, comfy mattresses, pillows and blankets. This is where you can relax and unwind after a treatment and I for one, found it a great place to chill out and have some "me" time.

      There are 12 treatment rooms and you are taken to your room by the beauty therapist who is treating you. There are lots of treatments available - facials, massages, reflexology, rejuvenation treatments, make up lessons and so much more. There is even a Mud Chamber where mud is applied to your body whilst heat and steam and used to open the pores. All treatments start with having your feet washed as this is part of the Aveda Concept and I certainly found it a relaxing start. One of my treatments was reflexology which is performed on the soles of the feet. By the time the therapist started on my second foot, I was fast asleep on the table!

      There is also a swimming pool in the spa area. However, I only got as far as dipping my big toe in to it as those who had ventured in said the water was really cold. I decided that I didn't want to spoil the lovely relaxed way I felt by jumping into cold water. There was also a steam room but I cannot comment on this as I didn't venture in. Adjacent to the pool area was a gymnasium with all the usual equipment, so if you are into treadmills etc, you will not be disappointed.

      Finally, I must comment on the staff. Everyone, with hotel or spa staff, was so friendly and helpful which certainly makes a pleasant change these days. Would I go again? Absolutely. In fact, we have all started saving so we can return again next year. It will take us that long to save up.

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