Having the continent right on our doorstep is a luxury we so often overlook.
Our favourite European destinations are teeming with lavish escapes dedicated to improving health and wellbeing. With sumptuous spas and tantalising cuisines – a jaunt over the Channel is just what the doctor ordered, right?
We’ve picked some of our favourite wellness retreats less than a 3-hour flight from Blighty.
Villa Stephanie Baden-Baden, Germany
This sumptuous fairytale villa in the historic spa town of Baden-Baden is a retreat like no other in the mystical Black Forest. Reminiscent of a Mediterranean palace, Villa Stéphanie is, in fact, a cutting-edge medical spa offering a holistic approach to wellness curated by some of the world’s finest professionals. With just 15 rooms and suites and unparalleled access to state-of-the-art medical and spa facilities, the experience is thoroughly bespoke.
Brand new for 2018, the spa is launching its unique detox and weight loss programme dubbed ‘The King’s Way’. Curated by Dr. Harry König (that’s King in German), this method uses a combination of nutritional, physical and medical detoxification, blending an individually-tailored diet, personalised training programme, daily medical supervision and bespoke spa treatments, against the backdrop of the magnificent grounds. The 9 night/10 day course has been scientifically developed to manage weight loss and improve overall physical and mental wellbeing.
Over the duration of the programme, guests will experience an incredible total of 91 treatments, combining medical, relaxing, detoxifying and sporting activities. Mineral Infusions and Ozone Therapy are just some of the tempting titles. To say that you’d feel ‘brand new’ at the end might appear cliché, but it’s absolutely true!
Shanti-Som Marbella, Spain
Located in sunny southern Spain, Shanti-Som is superior boutique yoga and detox retreat in the rugged mountains overlooking glitzy Marbella.
The Shanti-Som philosophy draws on ancient traditions and spa rituals from the Far East to create a welcoming space where you can reinvigorate your system through daily yoga classes, meditation and delicious, healthy cuisine. Their mantra is ‘to reward, encourage and educate, but never judge’. Guests can tailor their stays to incorporate detoxifying programs, fitness, pilates, spa treatments and facials or weight loss focus… or all of the above. The 7-day yoga retreat includes walks in the spectacular countryside as well as exercises that focus on laughing. A thoroughly gratifying experience!
SHA Wellness Alicante, Spain
SHA celebrates its 10th birthday this year. Ten years of medical innovation, natural therapies and healthy nutrition that has enticed visitors from the world over. Spain’s Mediterranean coast has always been a draw for those in need of a hit of sunshine, and to combine with a matchless wellbeing retreat, you may never wish to leave.
Clean, crisp, contemporary rooms with floor to ceiling windows framing the pretty towns against a backdrop of diamond-cut mountains and a dreamy infinity pool are just the beginning of the luscious indulgences guests experience here.
The impressive wellness centre is spread over 4 floors. Including medical services, therapy rooms, a top of the range fitness suite and hydrotherapy circuit encompassing two indoor pools, guests will be thoroughly spoilt for choice at this superior retreat.
Ti Sana Detox Lombardy, Italy
Ti Sana’s signature “Healthatarian” tailored wellness programmes combine organic vegan nutrition, therapeutic physical exercises and holistic treatments to ensure guests leave feeling thoroughly refreshed and renewed.
Set in a former 18th century noble residence that has been fully refurbished with contemporary twists, Ti Sana is a world leader in wellbeing breaks.
The medical spa focuses on detox and weight and lifestyle management. With a programme including a full, expert medical, gentle yoga, plunge pool, steam rooms and Turkish hammam, guests will totally revitalise here in the striking yet tranquil surroundings of northern Italy’s alpine foothills, overlooking the eminent lakes region. After all, Ti Sana means ‘to take care of yourself’.
Vilalara Thalassa Resort Algarve, Portugal
Totally dedicated to your wellbeing, the five star Vilalara Thalassa Resort is an exclusive space in a unique landscape with access to a private golden sand beach.
Home to one of the worlds most celebrated Thalassotherapy spas, along with the so-called Longevity Medical Spa, Vilalara is all about relaxation and rejuvenation. Comprising of various apartments and suites set in 11 hectares of landscaped gardens, guests can preen and pamper with the added bonus of glittering ocean views.
If that wasn’t enough, then the resort’s five pools (yes five!) ought to provide the perfect space to reinvigorate the body and bronze in total calm. 4 of the pools are seawater, and one is heated freshwater. Following a day of soaking respite, head to one of the resorts restaurants to indulge in world-renowned, delicious Portuguese seafood.
Alavya Alacati, Turkey
Often referred to at the ‘Hamptons’ of Turkey, the town of Alacati is predominantly a windsurfing hot spot, that all the in-the-know from Istanbul flock to.
Brimming with authentic hidden restaurants, wonderful independent boutiques and charming walking trails among the region’s famous vineyards and windmills, Alacati is the ideal location for rest and relaxation. The lavish Alavya resort takes pride of place and has, since it’s opening in 2013, has become the buzzing heart of the town.
The 6 individual restored stone houses that make up the complex are all nestled around a magical courtyard, which, thanks to its abundant olive, mastic and mulberry trees, is an absolute treat to the senses.
This summer, expert Yogi Alexis Gulliver will be in-house from 2 July – 26 August to guide guests on all things yoga related. She will host everything from Chakra-focused and Yin & Yang sessions (which aid the balance of active movements with relaxation) to tailor made one-on-one programmes, suitable for beginners or experienced yoga fans. The hotel’s magical pool and thoroughly relaxing Miboso spa, serve as the dream complement to time spent with Alexis. With treatments ranging from massage and reflexology to facials and peels, there is no doubt that you will leave Alavya ‘feeling as though you have rejuvenated both body and soul.’
Villa Eden Merano, Italy
A favourite among Italian Alpine locals as well as celebrities from across the globe, Villa Eden has the power to lure you back again and again. Nestled in its own temperate microclimate valley in the beautiful Merano region of the Alps, the palatial Villa Eden looks out over stunning apple orchards, vineyards and across to snow-speckled mountains. The perfect escape for that precious me-time.
The onsite medical and therapeutic spa facilities, led by world-renowned professionals, can be tailored to individuals needs. Doctors and nutritionists curate menus specifically for you, in order to get the most out of your revitalising stay. Villa Eden’s philosophy is a focus on you!
Super divas Beyoncé and Barbara Streisand have made the pilgrimage here, you know. If it has their seal of approval, then where do we sign up?
Masseria San Domenico Puglia, Italy
Masseria San Domenico is a boutique ‘Masseria’ Puglian farmhouse located among 60 acres of olive groves. The 40-room hotel is set in a historic building dating back to the 14th century used by the Knights of Malta. Family-owned and run, the hotel opened in 1996 as the first luxury 5-star Masseria in the region when Puglia was a little-known destination.
The new Thalasso Spa has recently launched their Sculpt & Shape programme. The Thalasso spa promotes the healing benefits of the Mediterranean lifestyle with the essential elements of thalassotherapy. Reshape with a mix of detoxing, draining and sculpting, and deep dives into the dynamic thalasso pool and kneipp routes.
Are you bold enough to try the hydrobike? In a pool of freezing cold water, take advantage of the cold to act on the cells of cellulite. Just 20 minutes per day for 7 days. Now that’s not asking for much?! Add in Algotherapy, Thalgocéane, Thalgo Sculpturing Oxygenizing Treatments, Mineral Wraps in Pressotherapy, Thalgo Jets, Carita Tecnoled Remodelling Treatments and more.
Villa Chimera Tuscany, Italy
Run by Fierce Grace who bring a new yoga system, and a new brand. They led the UK in the Hot Yoga revolution, by bringing Bikram Yoga to London in 1994. Now they achieve the ultimate blend of strength and flexibility for both body and mind. Classes on this retreat will be taught by Fierce Grace founder Michele Pernetta, and each retreat will be a small group of approx 14 people.
Practise yoga under the sun in a stunning valley at Villa Chimera, with magnificent views and the best locally sourced food. It is a 600-year-old village fortress that has been recently lovingly restored. Relax by the pool and enjoy the breath-taking views from one of the terraces. Stay in beautiful bedrooms with antiques and enjoy yoga on outside wooden shala or evening meditations on the infinity deck looking out over acres of valley. Spend evenings in the bustling markets, at movie nights in the home cinema or local restaurants. Enjoy incredible food made from the freshest local ingredients, local wine, cheeses, truffles and outing to see the local walled towns and shops.