Are you looking for a luxury holiday that leaves you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated? Whether you want to indulge in natural, healing hot springs or focus on your health, there are many reasons why you might choose a spa and wellness luxury holiday. And, finding the right destination is no easy task.
You’ll want somewhere with great facilities, plenty of noteworthy attractions away from the spas, and luxury hotels for a comfortable stay. It’s also important to pick a destination with a laid-back, health-conscious vibe so you can incorporate health and wellness into every aspect of your holiday.
Our handy guide features some of the world’s top destinations for a spa and wellness luxury holiday. You’ll also find expert recommendations on attractions, luxury five-star hotels and advice on the best time to visit.
With its numerous hot springs, Budapest is one of Europe’s top destinations for relaxation. The tradition of ‘taking the waters’ dates back to the Roman times. Rumour has it that these waters can cure common ailments, but today they’re primarily used for rest and relaxation. After all, there’s nothing more relaxing than spending the day in warm, thermal waters and indulging in a spa treatment or two.
Things to Do
Budapest has a range of fantastic bathhouses including traditional Turkish era establishments as well as more modern ones. Here are some of our favourites:
Rudas Baths. As one of the oldest bathhouses still in operation, many people visit Rudas Baths for the more traditional, Turkish experience. It features an octagonal dome-covered pool, therapeutic swimming facility and sauna. There’s also a complex physiotherapeutic section and drinking hall offering cures from three water springs. During the week it has a men-only policy, but women are welcome on the weekends.
Gellert Baths. Decorated in an Art Nouveau style, Gellert Baths has some of Budapest’s most beautiful indoor swimming pools. You can enjoy thermal pools, swimming pool, wave pool and spa treatments within this stunning location. Gellert is one elegant bathhouse and you could easily spend the whole day exploring everything it has to offer.
Szechenyi Baths. With a history dating back over a century, Szechenyi Bath is Budapest’s biggest and most popular thermal baths. There are 15 thermal baths and three swimming pools with water temperatures of 38C. In addition to outdoor and indoor geothermal pools, Szechenyi also has an extensive spa complex offering a variety of treatments, saunas and a fully-equipped fitness centre.
Where to Stay
While you can’t stay at the thermal baths, Budapest does have a fantastic collection of luxury five-star hotels. Many have onsite spa facilities, saunas, hot tubs, and swimming pools for a truly relaxing stay.
Corinthia Hotel. Located on the Grand Boulevard, Corinthia Hotel offers guests the five-star treatment at its onsite spa, three restaurants and an elegant cafe. Its spa has several relaxation areas, saunas, steam baths, hot tubs, a fitness room, mud baths, seaweed baths and other exquisite treatments. The onsite restaurant serves international and local cuisine and there’s often live piano music in the lobby bar.
New York Palace. Situated in a historic 19th-century building in central Budapest, the New York Palace is the ideal choice for guests wanting to relax in style. Rooms have luxurious furnishings including Italian furniture, silk wallpaper and Murano chandeliers. Onsite, you’ll find a New York style cafe, elegant bar with live piano music, and fine dining restaurant. There’s also an opulent spa with sauna, steam bath, and relaxation pool as well as a fully-equipped fitness centre.
Ritz-Carlton. Only a short walk from St. Stephen’s Basilica and the Danube river, the Ritz-Carlton is another fantastic option for guests on a spa and wellness luxury holiday. Rooms strike the perfect balance between elegance and comfort and many suites have sweeping views of the nearby park and shopping street. Guests can take advantage of the hotel’s sophisticated lounge, restaurant and bar or indulge in exclusive treatments at the hotel’s spa. The spa also features a steam room, infinity swimming pool, and state-of-the-art fitness centre.
When to Visit
Like most of Continental Europe, Budapest has warm summers and chilly winters. The city gets particularly busy during summer holidays, so we recommend visiting during the shoulder seasons of March to May or September to November. These periods still have pleasant weather with fewer crowds.
As an English alternative to Budapest, Bath has an extraordinary array of architectural treasures and a long history of thermal bathing. So much so, that the whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While there may not be as many bathhouses as Budapest, Bath does have one of the world’s best-preserved Roman bathhouses. For a spa and wellness luxury holiday in Britain, Bath is a fantastic option.
Things to Do
Bath has more to it than just baths. Here, you’ll also find stunning Georgian buildings, sites of literary importance like the Jane Austen Centre, and a beautiful abbey.
Roman Baths. One of the world’s best preserved Roman baths, a visit here is essential. You can explore the entire complex and learn about the Roman tradition of public bathing and socialising. While water still flows into the baths, you’re not allowed to take a dip. Rather, you’ll need to head across the road to Thermae.
Thermae Bath Spa. Fed by the same underground source as the original Roman baths, those seeking rest and relaxation should head to the award-winning Thermae. Thermae is also Britain’s only naturally warm, mineral-rich waters. Here, you can take a leisurely soak in the indoor Minerva Bath, enjoy sweeping vistas from the open-air rooftop pools, or indulge in one of the 40 spa treatments. There’s also a steam room and sauna.
Bath Abbey. One of Bath’s non-bathhouse attractions, Bath Abbey is a classic example of British heritage. You can admire its stunning architecture including elaborate carvings of biblical scenes and a breathtaking Victorian Gothic chapel. You can climb to the top of the tower for sweeping views of Bath and the English countryside.
Where to Stay
While Bath is home to traditional, public bathhouses, it also has some excellent five-star hotels with onsite spas and wellness centres.
The Gainsborough Bath Spa. The Gainsborough Bath Spa is the only hotel in Britain with direct access to naturally heated thermal waters. So, you can enjoy Baths’ natural hot springs without the crowds. There’s also an onsite spa facility offering massages and other exclusive treatments, sauna, steam room and hot tub. Guests can stay fit with exercise classes or help from the personal trainer at the spa’s modern fitness centre.
No. 15 Great Pulteney. Located a three-minute stroll from the Roman Baths, No. 15 Great Pulteney is a boutique townhouse hotel offering a luxurious stay. Guests can take advantage of the onsite bar and restaurant, ultra-comfortable rooms, and an exclusive spa. The spa provides a range of beauty and massage treatments and features a cedar wood hot tub, barrel-shaped sauna, and separate steam pod.
The Bath Priory. Situated on the outskirts of Bath on four acres of private, beautiful grounds, the Bath Priory Hotel is the ideal country retreat. Here, you’ll find a restaurant serving French dishes and a bar with real ales. With views over the leafy gardens, the Bath Priory spa has an indoor heated swimming pool, outdoor pool with views, pool-side sauna and modern steam pod. You can also book exquisite beauty and spa treatments.
When to Visit
Bath sees rainy wet winters and relatively sunny summers. While Bath is beautiful at any time of year, summer (May to September) is one of the best times to visit as temperatures hover around 20 degrees and you have a better chance of sunny skies.
California has a reputation as the ultimate health-focused destination. Locals live healthy lifestyles with avocado breakfasts and exclusive gym memberships. You can ski pristine mountain slopes, discover the health benefits of clean mountain air, or indulge in high-end spas. Whatever you choose to do, California is the ultimate spa and wellness destination.
Things to Do
California has a fantastic range of health and wellbeing activities. From yoga retreats to healing thermal hot springs and fresh mountain air, you’ll find thousands of ways to stay fit and healthy.
Skiing. Whether you’re hitting the slopes at Heavenly or Northstar, skiing is an excellent way to stay in shape. It works your entire body, boosts your mental health and has the added benefit of allowing you to spend time in the great outdoors. And, California has some of the world’s best ski resorts.
Cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge. California’s premier tourist attraction and San Francisco’s most famous landmark is the Golden Gate Bridge. You can get up close and personal with this giant beauty by cycling across it.
Visit the Redwoods. Visiting the Redwoods should be at the top of any California itinerary; especially health-focused travellers. Spending time outdoors can significantly boost mental health and these redwoods have a calming effect. You can visit the redwoods at Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove, Sequoia National Park, Redwood National and State Park, and Muir Woods National Monument.
Where to Stay
California not only has some fantastic outdoor healthy activities, but it’s also home to renowned spas offering extensive treatments and state-of-the-art facilities. Here are some of our favourites:
The Landings Resort & Spa. Located at the base of one of California’s greatest ski resorts, The Landing Resort and Spa provides access to the ski slopes as well as an onsite full-service spa offering a range of beauty and wellness treatments. After a day of skiing, you can relax in front of your own private gas fireplace or have a drink on the rooftop terrace with fireplaces and lake views. There’s also a restaurant serving California cuisine and fitness centre with sauna, steam room and swimming pool.
Fairmont Grand Del Mar. This five-star San Diego resort offers extensive facilities including four outdoor swimming pools, hot tub and sauna, tennis courts, six restaurants, lobby bar, golf course and spa. You can indulge in a wide variety of spa treatments including massages, body wraps and scrubs, hair treatments, waxing services and much more. There’s also a fully equipped state-of-the-art fitness centre onsite offering free fitness classes. After a day of pampering and fitness, you can take a leisurely soak in your own private European-style tub or fall asleep on feather down pillows.
Sands Hotel & Spa. Located in Palm Springs, the Sands Hotel & Spa provides guest with excellent service and a luxurious stay. There’s an onsite restaurant serving Mediterranean dishes, outdoor swimming pool, open-air bath, hot tub and jacuzzi, and of course top-of-the-line spa facilities. At Sands Spa, you can relax with a host of spa, wellness and beauty packages like facials and massages.
When to Visit
California is the ultimate spa and wellness destination at any time of year. When you choose to visit depends on how and where you’d like to spend your holiday. Winter brings colder temperatures and snow to California’s mountains making for excellent skiing. However, southern cities like San Diego and Los Angeles remain warm and sunny year-round with temperatures rarely falling below 9 degrees Celsius so, if you’d rather sunbathe than ski, head south during winter months.
Still not sure? Read our Best Spa’s in the UK for further inspiration.