The Macdonald Inchyra hotel and spa is a stone-built former manor house that has been sympathetically extended over the years. Set within 44 acres of beautiful parkland in the heart of Scotland, it is within easy reach of landmarks such as the Kelpies and Linlithgow Palace. But almost next door to this newly upgraded luxury getaway is another major part of the east central Scotland landscape that is not quite such a draw for tourists – Grangemouth oil refinery.
The industrial complex looms large on the approach to the hotel but once inside the grounds the refinery is very quickly out of sight and out of mind. There was a time when this hotel was best known for business gatherings; its location in the centre of Scotland makes it ideal for AGMs and boardroom bean feasts. But since it was acquired by the Macdonald group, headquartered in nearby Bathgate, it has benefited from a new spa, gym and steakhouse to give this relaxing retreat a far broader appeal.
Budget or boutique?
It’s the swish spa more than anything else which elevates a stay here into the boutique category.
It boasts a full range of wet and dry treatments, thermal suites with rock saunas, infra-red saunas, therapies such as salt infusion and salt mist, cold rooms, aroma steam rooms and invigorating showers.
The spa staff talked us through the various options at length before an hour-long pampering session began. By the end we were more than ready for a nap by the 20-metre pool, followed by a swim to bring us back from the Land of Nod.
The rooms are spacious and well-equipped. The generously stocked Nespresso coffee machine was a particularly welcome sight when we arrived. The recent upgrade has seen 100 rooms refurbished. The executive rooms include a flat-screen TV and large work area, presumably with the many corporate guests making use of the venue’s conference facilities in mind. The hotel is near Edinburgh Airport, minutes from the M9 and less than half an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling, so it makes sense that the Inchyra has free wifi and the capacity to host 750 delegates. Families are also well catered for, with suites featuring separate living areas.
Wining and dining
If you’re a carnivore, steak really is the dish of the day in the hotel restaurant, Scottish Steakhouse. The kitchen serves only the finest Scottish produce and the beef is supplied by fully accredited suppliers and hung for 21 days. We couldn’t find fault with our steaks, which were juicy, tender and perfectly cooked. A well-balanced salad of seasonal asparagus and poached egg showed the chef was far more than just a dab hand with the grill. A glass of excellent Chilean merlot washed it all down very nicely indeed, followed by some painfully trendy gin garnished with sliced strawberries and lime. The breakfast buffet the following morning was another impressive spread.
The restaurant also offers an “early bird” set menu of two courses for £15 or three for £20.
The restaurant is ideal for a spot of afternoon tea, with savoury finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with jam and clotted cream and a selection of cakes on offer, all served on tiered cake stands. For a few extra quid you can add champagne. The well-equipped gym, with its abundance of cardiovascular machines, is another welcome little extra for guests feeling the need to work off some of the aforementioned treats.
If you aren’t in the market for an overnight stay, spa day offers include use of all spa facilities and robes, towels and slippers.
The Macdonald Inchyra is ideal for a weekend break, especially for workers in the Central Belt looking for somewhere to relax and unwind that doesn’t take hours to get to, within easy reach of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. The relaxing atmosphere is all the more remarkable considering its location in the middle of a maze of transport links and Scotland’s only oil refinery.
Classic double room prices start from £110. Macdonald Inchyra Hotel and Spa, Grange Road, Falkirk FK2 0YB (tel: 0344 879 9044, www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/our-hotels/macdonald-inchyra-hotel-spa)