Call it the Instagram effect but modern-day spas need more than just a killer treatment menu. The design of a spa can have just as much of a transformative effect on somebody checking in, as any 90-minute massage.
Whether it’s a sky-high haven in a concrete jungle or oceanside retreat nestled into giant boulders, distinctive designs and superlative style can set a spa apart. They’re the super-spas that envelop you into their world with their own unique design concepts that extend right through to the amenities on the shelves. It’s almost criminal to leave your camera phone in your changing room locker.
Hold on to your spa slippers. These are seven spas with the wow factor.
With backdrops this good, you’ll need a spa-drobe to match the surroundings. Lisa Haynes reveals what to wear.
THE PACKING EDIT
Six Senses Spa Zil Pasyon, Seychelles
Wedged between granite boulders at the ocean’s edge, the Six Senses Spa Zil Pasyon feels like it’s been seamlessly merged with its lush surroundings on Félicité island. Forget the standalone spa, this design set-up goes one step further with five vast treatment villas (complete with their own private relaxation deck) set in and around giant boulders to blend in with the landscape and vegetation. Each eco-conscious spa villa – Ocean, Floating, Nature, Rock or Cave – faces out to the sea so you have an unspoilt view of the Indian Ocean during your treatment.
THE SPA HOT SPOT: Instagram was made for wallowing in this outdoor infinity pool that gives the impression you’re hovering amidst giant rocks.
Portopiccolo SPA by Bakel, Italy
If intimate spaces aren’t for you, The Spa by Bakel is two levels and 3,600sqm of minimalist and modern spa design. With vast windows to take in 360-panoramic views of the Adriatic sea, the huge spaces are uber-light and airy, enhanced by beautiful local white Karst stone that’s the foundation for every space. The innovative design of each sensory space links the wellness area together seamlessly for in-depth spa circuits – think hammam with tepidarium, calidarium and frigidarium, Kneipp path and Finnish sauna. For a more private wellness experience, the Panoramic Spa Suite features sauna with glass walls and external solarium to take full advantage of the sea view.
THE SPA HOT SPOT: It’s worth being early for your treatment slot for the top floor waiting lounge with seascape view that feels like you’re chilling in a James Bond-style apartment.
Royal Mansour Marrakech Spa, Morocco
The entrance to Royal Mansour via the Moorish citrus garden sets the tone for the three floors and 2,500sqm of fairy tale-style spa decadence ahead. Designed in typical Moorish style, the intricate cut-out iron walls resemble white lace and the lobby is a cavernous atrium that looks like a giant bird’s cage. Its ornate, all-white design and glasswork makes for a light-filled spa mecca – a serene contrast to the spice palette of colours outside. A maximalist’s heaven from head to toe, expect chambers dripping with glass chandeliers and marble floors inlaid with swirls, petals and curlicues.
THE SPA HOT SPOT: Rendered in white, lace-like ironwork, the bird cage entrance to the spa is every Instagrammer’s dream.
The Armani/SPA at Armani Hotel Milano, Milan
Urban respite from the buzz of the fashion capital, The Armani/SPA sits serenely on the eighth floor overlooking the city. The design of the day spa – sensual shapes in varied textures, masculine minimalism, and the ‘greige’ colour palette throughout – is unmistakably Armani. With meticulous attention to detail and subtle nods to the far east, Giorgio Armani personally picked all the spa materials, from the green river marble floor, to the reproduction bamboo print adorning the walls. Even the sleek Armani Privé spa bottles are like mini works of art.
THE SPA HOT SPOT: Lounge in the impressive indoor vitality pool for panoramic views overlooking the bustling skyline of Milan.
The Spa at South Lodge Hotel, Sussex, UK
Merging indoors and outdoors, The Spa at South Lodge is housed in a standalone building with green oak cladding and undulating glass roof inspired by the South Downs’ rolling hills to fit discreetly with the surroundings. Huge panes of glass bring natural daylight to just about every wellness area – glass-fronted sauna included – so you can absorb the countryside as you’re spa-ing indoors. Even the calming colour palette of neutrals, pale blues and sage greens inside the spa reflects the natural landscape outside. Things don’t get much wilder with design than the spa’s natural swim pond that you can take a dip in – heated to make it bearable.
THE SPA HOT SPOT: The outdoor vitality pool (read: giant hot tub) allows you to take in the estate’s rolling hills as hydrotherapy jets zap at your muscles.
The Chedi Andermatt Spa, Switzerland
Designed by ‘starchitect’ Jean-Michel Gathy, The Chedi Andermatt Spa combines Alpine chic with Asian nuances (from the brand’s heritage of ‘chedi’ meaning temple). Spread over 2,400sqm and across two levels, the spa features a striking 35m long indoor pool, which is lined with plush daybeds and cosy fireplaces surrounded by rich Alpine wood and sleek dark tiles that feels like the interior equivalent of a hug in your spa robe. The glass walls and ceiling of the indoor pool are also cleverly heated to ensure the mountain views are never obstructed by settling snow.
THE SPA HOT SPOT: The 12m temperature-controlled outdoor pool means you can swim comfortably – even in the snowiest conditions.
Iridium Spa at The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, Maldives
Nestled between verdant rainforest and white sand beaches on a private island, Iridium Spa has the distinct design advantage of overlooking the Indian Ocean. It all starts in the serene Iridium Room, where guests can sip on a welcome tea as they watch marine life through the glass floor. Each of the six treatment suites – including two Ayurvedic suites with private steam rooms – is naturally designed to maximise the ocean view. Think sliding glass doors to watch the waves from your treatment bed and private terraces with bathtubs for relaxation with a side order of ocean breeze.
THE SPA HOT SPOT: Boasting one of the biggest hydrotherapy pools in the Maldives, float in the Blue Hole Pool as heated seawater and whirlpool jets melt away your woes.