Posted By John Stone on September 4, 2012
THE BULGARI HOTEL, MILAN
After a hard day’s shopping, The Bulgari Hotel, a converted convent tucked away in Milan’s Brera district, is the perfect place to recover. Italian architect Antonio Citterio designed the clean-lined hotel and private garden, where you can relax duringthe day or dine by lantern light at night. We stayed in the Bulgari Suite, which has a huge Turkish stone bath and “Bath Menu” of perfumed oils, background music and fruit teas to sip, all arranged by housekeeping. The spa, which offers a comprehensive list of SPA treatments, has a covered outdoor relaxation area, Turkish bath and swimming pool with gold and emerald mosaics. You will feel like living in your own Milan apartment.
CHOUPANA HILLS MADEIRA
Once at Choupana, you feel you’ve arrived at the top of the world: the climate is different — it’s slightly cooler, sometimes romantically shrouded in cloud— quieter, and calmer. With the resort’s moodily lit “Zen” interiors and tropical landscaping, you could easily be 10 hours’ flying time further east. Accommodation is in wooden bungalows on stilts, furnished in a contemporary/exotic style. The spa has a heated outdoor infinity pool that offers spectacular views, while its indoor pool, with counter-current, jet massage and Jacuzzi, is surrounded by loungers and has the feeling of a solarium. Enjoy the hammam before your reflexology, aromatherapy massage, wrap, facial or Rasul mud treatment. Food is gourmet fusion (foie gras, tempura prawns) —make sure you wash it down with a glass of Madeira.
HASSELUDDEN YASURAGI, SALTSJO-BOO STOCKHOLM
Half an hour from Stockholm, this spa blends Japanese Yasuragi healing methods with Swedish detoxification techniques for a unique place to unwind from your Apartment in Amsterdam. The central focus of Yasuragi is water. There are invigorating hot springs inside and outside, and a glorious pool set in the rocks. In addition to the Japanese bathing rituals on offer, there’s Qi Gong, Zen meditation, yoga and various forms of massage. The food is superb: in particular, the Teppanyaki restaurant —where a chef cooks all your food in front of you at your table — is an unmisssable experience. We stayed in the Mezame suite, with its incredibly comfortable futons and enormous bath. After a hard day’s spa-ing, the balcony overlooking Stockholm’s magnificent archipelago provides the perfect backdrop for a cold spritzer and a lungful of the freshest air you’re ever likely to breathe.
HOTEL MARTINEZ CANNES
The rooftop Givenchy spa at the Martinez (the only Givenchy spa in France) is as glamorous as its setting on the Croisette. Its scrubs, wraps, massages (four-handed Asian-style, slimming, lymphatic drainage) and hot-stone treatments are seriously pampering and therapeutic. The spa itself is sleek and chic, with polished wooden floors, rattan chaises, and buttermilk-coloured upholstery. Unlike many hotel spas that have dimly lit rooms for relaxing in, here the apres-treatment spot is a sunny, outdoor terrace scented with jasmine and lavender, grown in dramatic, oversized tubs. If ever a rooftop spa could ground you, then this is the one.
LA RESIDENCIA MAJORCA
La Residencia, a handsome converted finca in Dela, 45 minutes’ drive from Palma, has a smart new spa with treatment rooms that are like a simpler version of the hotel’s bedrooms— soothing white washed sanctuaries with terracotta tiled showers, church candles and dark wood shutters to keep the sun out but let in the orange blossom-perfumed air. This is the place for sophisticated body treatments using Guinot products, or knot-busting full-body massages using Aromatherapy Associates oils. But the spa isn’t the only reason to come: the hotel’s mouthwatering pastries and locally caught fish are irresistible.
MASSERIA TORRE COCCARO PUGLIA, ITALY
The Masseria Torre Coccaro — a converted sixteenth-century watchtower—has struck an ideal balance. It is organic without being pretentious, and raw but by no means tatty. Like many of the rooms, the Aveda spa is housed in a beautiful old “cave” along with a Turkish bath, fitness room and a small rock pool. Among the extensive list of treatments is a mask made from mashed capers, extra-virgin olive oil and aromatic herbs that makes the hair exceptionally shiny. One of the hotel’s best qualities is the silence—only if you listen very carefully can you hear the 700-year-old olive trees rustling in the breeze.
SAN CLEMENTE PALACE VENICE
An exhilarating 30-minute boat ride from Venice airport, this private island in the lagoon only has two buildings: a 350-year-old monastery and a luxurious spa hotel, set in four acres of immaculate gardens. The spa itself is a fragrant oasis of calm offering facials, massages, pedicures and body treatments. If you tire of all the attention, pick up the shuttle boat, which leaves every 20 minutes, to whisk you to the excitements of St Mark’s Square. After you have explored the backstreets and canals, and, of course, done a spot of shopping, you’ll be glad to get back to the peace of San Clemente.