The luxurious healing spas of Europe have a long and storied history, dating back to the ancient precursors of the beautifully-ornate Roman baths that still dot the continent’s landscapes, from the warm southern Mediterranean shores to the North Atlantic glacier towns. Today, these therapeutic sights have made a comeback by fusing ancient medicinal practices with the latest breakthrough treatments.
These European spas offer you top ultra-luxurious therapies combined with stunningly beautiful natural scenery and delicious culinary fare to help you relax, rejuvenate, and restore yourself to a balanced state of mind-body wellness. These breathtaking private locales are also surrounded by unique recreational sights and venues, and are nearby to some the continent’s best architectural, metropolitan, and cultural experiences.
Terme di Saturnia, Tuscany, Italy
Located on the stunningly beautiful southern Tuscan coast of Maremma, the town of Saturnia sits on a volcanic crater at the base of Mount Amiata. Use of its numerous ancient thermal pools dates back to the pre-Roman era, when it was known as Aurinia by the Etruscans, who lived in the region from the 8th to the 3rd century BCE. The pools form when rain water becomes enriched with minerals and salts as it meanders slowly down the mountainsides.
The exquisite Terme Di Saturnia spa is situated above this crater, and hosts four hot spring pools that remain at natural spring-water temperature of 99 degrees throughout the year. This premier Mediterranean escape also offers visitors an exquisite 18-hole championship golf course set amidst beautifully flowing greens, streams, and lakes. Its many next-level services include therapeutic thermal mud treatments, green cosmetic services, essential oil massages, and naturopathy treatments. The beautifully appointed hotel is designed in harmony with nature, and includes the premier Tuscan restaurant Aqualuce that showcases fresh local foods and signature wines, like the savory red Morellino di Scansano.
Outside the resort walls are two waterfalls, the Cascate del Mulino and Cascate del Gorello, which also include numerous relaxing thermal pools. The town itself is highlighted by several Roman ruins, some of which show indications of being built on previous Etruscan sights. You can take a tour of black and white mosaic Roman baths and see the remnants of two Roman roads that once ran to the city’s 2nd century Roman gates, which still stand today. The city’s rich archaeological museum houses many exquisite treasures excavated from locations throughout the region, and the nearby Archaeological Park of Roselle showcases the amazing remains of an entire Etruscan city.
If you’d like to explore even more cultural wonders Saturnia is conveniently location equidistant between Florence and Rome, making it an ideal place to stop and enjoy a truly luxurious European spa experience.
Schloss Elmau, Oberbayern, Germany
This stunning Bavarian Alpine retreat just 35 miles north of Innsbruck, Austria is a world unto its own. It recently garnered CN Traveller’s ‘Spa Guide 2018: Best Family Getaway‘ award, and distinguishes itself from other healing hotspots not only because of its secluded pastoral-mountain setting and kid-friendly cultural activities, but also because it offers a diverse range of deeper healing therapies such as Chinese acupuncture, qigong, indoor and outdoor yoga, and energy work. The spa also incorporates the ancient eastern practice of Ayurveda, which focuses on proper use of the 5 senses to maintain an optimal state of wellness.
There are certainly plenty of opportunities to enliven your senses at Schloss Elmau, which sits on site of a 100 year old castle built by renowned theologian Dr Johannes Müller, who was interested in creating a sanctuary for writers and philosophers. Today ‘The Retreat’ features two contemporary 5-star hotels designed with bespoke furnishings and elements from all corners of the world. The spa’s centerpiece 5,400 square foot Oriental Hamam (Turkish Bath) is constructed from stone formed during the Jurassic period, and is highlighted by hot stone steam baths and its very own tea room. Children have access to a kid’s club, as well as a plethora of fun outdoor activities such as biking, forest den building, geocaching, and dogsledding workshops. The sprawling 370-acre therapeutic sanctuary also holds its own concert hall, bookstore, lounge, 3 adult spas, 3 family spas, 8 restaurants, 6 pools, and a Jazz Bar.
There are also plenty of amazing Old World sights and activities close to Schloss Elmau. The ski resort town of Garmisch is located just outside the spa property, and many famous castles are spread throughout the region, including the famous Neuschwanstein Castle just 50 miles northwest of the resort. Nearby Innsbruck is home to a number of beautiful Alpine lifts, quaint historic castles, and plenty of shopping, dining, and sightseeing on the famous Maria-Theresien Strasse in the city’s Old Town district.
La Reserve, Ramatuelle, France
From crisp Alpine snows to tropical Mediterranean breezes, La Reserve Ramauelle in the French Riviera offers visitors breathtaking views of the sea from each of its naturally-designed rooms, suites, and villas. With just over 40 residences in total, this exceptionally private spa immerses you in a world of pampered wellness and relaxing delights. Its small size allows for hands-on guidance through a wellness experience that is custom-tailored to your unique needs, including personalized anti-aging treatments, mineral springs therapy, specialized massage, and Crème de la Mer natural beauty treatments.
One of La Reserve’s claims to fame is its detox-friendly food that is both mouthwatering and delicious. Michelin Chef Eric Canino utilizes the freshest flavors and most decadent recipes in perfect balance with healthy ingredients to make clean eating a celebrated affair. The recent inclusion of a Japanese menu prepared by a sushi master helps balance in healthy Asian dishes with the delectable tastes of the Mediterranean.
With its location just 6 miles south of the ultra-chic St. Tropez, this holistic hideaway offers the best of both worlds: a luxurious retreat where unwinding takes center stage, along with quick access to the exciting night life, upscale restaurants, and pristine beaches that help make St. Tropez famous. The celebrated sophistication of Cannes is also only a short 90 minutes away, where you can explore the region’s thriving independent arts scene or take an enchanting day trip to the serene and historic Lérins islands.
Six Senses Spa Duoro Valley, Portugal
The magnificently terraced vineyards of northern Portugal’s Duoro Valley run inland from the Atlantic Coast along the region’s namesake river, creating amazing color palettes and even more incredible wines. The entire region has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historic human cultivation that spans over 2,000 years. The award-winning Six Senses Spa sits in the heart of this enriching and resplendent setting.
Recently named CN Traveller’s ‘Most Indulgent Escape‘, the renovated 19th century manor which houses a small hotel and numerous spacious treatment rooms sits on a hill overlooking the river. Its one-of-a kind therapies fuse traditional healing methods such as skin exfoliation with innovative grape-blended curative elements. The focus at Six Senses is also on using food as medicine, and its two restaurants have their own garden from which they curate ingredients for local organic dishes that celebrate both good health and community sustainability.
As its name implies, this spa centers around providing a calming and culturally-enriching environment that delights all your senses. Several types of yoga classes are offered either indoors or outside on the expansive yoga pavilion, and there are meditation pods scattered throughout the property’s serene wooded landscape. A wine library educates guests on the regional specialties, and doubles as a wine tasting lodge each evening. Authentic regional experiences are offered as well, including the fun harvest tradition of ‘stomping of the grapes’ at a local vineyard of your choosing.
For even more regional cultural experiences, check out the coastal cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. Here you can tour many historic port houses, such as the 1751 Ferrarai Porto, which was founded by the region’s most famous matriarch Dona Antónia Adelaide.
Lough Eske Castle Spa & Hotel Donegal, Ireland
Donegal was named ‘Coolest Place on the Planet’ by National Geographic Traveller‘ in 2017, in large part due to its ruggedly beautiful rocky coastlines and wide array of adventurous hiking, cycling, surfing, and mountain climbing activities. The county’s untamed vistas are perfectly captured at one of the most unique luxury spas in Europe. Offering the amazing triple experience of a holistic healing center inside an authentic Irish castle, set amidst the beautiful Blue Stack Mountains , Lough Eske Castle Spa & Hotel is truly a 5-star trendsetter.
The magnificently serene castle is situated on Lake Eske amidst 43 acres of dramatic woodland scenery and mountain backdrops, and offers a unique blend of aromatherapy, herbal remedies, marine life and fruit therapy treatments. You’ll also find a thermal suite and hydrotherapy pool, a sanarium and laconium, and a large swimming pool with atrium. The sandstone-infused wood architecture throughout the castle is meant to evoke feelings of peaceful tranquility, and rooms include your choice of country-style elegance or contemporary light-filled design. Classic Irish dishes, locally-sourced ingredients, and rich, native desserts all combine to make your stay at the spa a timeless experience.
One of Donegal’s claims to fame is ‘The Wild Atlantic Way‘, an untamed stretch of seacoast that stretches for 1,500 miles along the country’s western shore. You can explore the region’s culture-packed section of this route, which is located just 30 minutes from the Lough Eske Spa. In addition, four championship golf courses dot the landscape around the castle, and nearby Rossnowlagh Beach was honored as one of the best in the world. You can also head into Donegal town proper for an authentic Irish pint at several family owned pubs, including the popular Olde Castle Bar, which was once a part of the property owned by the area’s medieval O’Donnell clan chiefs.
Whether you choose a refreshing Alpine escape or a relaxing Mediterranean retreat, we’ll ensure that your personalized European spa travel experience is smooth and stress-free. With our first-hand knowledge of the best of Europe’s amenities and sights, our deeply-rooted in-country connections, and our passion for bringing them all to you, we offer you a tailored journey into the ancient history and contemporary luxury that make the exclusive spas of Europe such an unforgettable addition to your travel adventure. To learn more, contact us today and we’ll get started on creating your custom dream itinerary.