When the weather gets cold and the evenings dark here in Europe, you’ll find yourself longing for light and warmth. But if you only have a single day off, there is nothing more reviving than following in the steps of the Romans and take to a Spa.
I’m fortunate enough to do this on a regularly basis. According to the definition above you can of course discuss, when something is a Spa, but I use the term broadly, since that is how it is used to day. But I only include places you can stay overnight. For me it is important that the focus is on health, and we prefer places either with real mineral waters or with a gym, yoga classes and healthy food. For this reason I have not included the places I have been along the German North Coast like Binz, the wonderful Middle Eastern Hammams or the mineral springs in The Azores.
As you can read in an earlier Spa Guide, I usually go across Øresund: Going to a spa? Go to Skåne! A Swedish Wellness Guide… They have many award winning Spas, and they are a lot cheaper than Denmark (or Germany). In Sweden you get one night, breakfast, entry to spa and a small treatment for around 140 euro, and in Skodsborg, we payed around 100 euro only for the entry and a 50 min facial. Make sure you check what the package include and ditch extras like flowers and chocolate. Just bring your own bottle of Champagne. (For trips with your boyfriend -not your mom…)
4 GREAT SPAS
YSTAD SALTSJÖBAD, SWEDEN
My favourite spa
LAUGARVATN FONTANA, ICELAND
Spa by hot springs
SZÉCHENYI THERMAL BATH, HUNGARY
The old school spa
BLUE LAGOON, ICELAND
The crowded, but unbelivable spa
In Denmark, I recommend Kurhotel Skodsborg by the North coast The spa from 2012 is designed by the internationally acknowledged Henning Larsen Architects and decorated by the Danish artist Malene Bach, and this is a clean Nordic style very different from the lavish Budapest Spa or the New Port Style in Ystad.
The idea behind is based on the founder, Dr. Carl Ottosen’s principles for leading a healthy life. He founded Kurhotel Skodsborg in 1898 and focused on bathing traditions based on light, air, water, nutrition, exercise and rest. The main experience, that set this place apart from the rest, is that we were offered free “saunagus” (aroma therapy with oils and a ‘master’ makes heatwaves) and also a free oil body scrub in the steam room. I also had very professional facial treatment – and I have tried a few…
I would recommend it as one of the best near Copenhagen.
THE SPA TRADITION ⇓
People have always believed that mineral waters were healing and travelling for its soothing properties is a prehistoric thing. Physical and spiritual purification by water was done by Native Americans, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans – and is common in all religions. The word “Spa” itself derives from the town Spa in Belgium, named in Roman times for its hot springs. In 16th century England the Roman ideas of medicinal bathing was revived. So it might be luxury, but it’s part of a longstanding cultural tradition.
Researcher David Clay writes in “The Grand Spas of Central Europe” that the old European Spas was “the equivalent of today’s major medical centers, rehab retreats, golf resorts, conference complexes, fashion shows, music festivals, and sexual hideaways—all rolled into one.”
A spa is actually a place, where mineral rich spring water or seawater is used to give medicinal baths. It often contains silica, sulfur, selenium and radium and you can really feel the water is different. This I have tried in the Szcéchcsny baths in Budapest and in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland as the most travel-worthy places. And many modern spas have their roots in towns, that long have been famous for healing springs. What spa resorts mostly offers is balneotherapy. This is a therapy used to treat diseases by bathing and involve hot and cold water, massage, relaxation and sometime mineral clay.
Can you recommend a Spa in Europe?