Valentine’s Day is an excuse for indulging in unadulterated pleasure sharing and no better way to do so than by enjoying an intimate spa day with your partner, complete with tingling massage treatments.
Here are five of Europe’s top spas to choose from –
Stunning, almost surreal in style and size, London’s Corinthia Hotel offers a spa spanning four floors.
Displaying dramatic Calacatta and black Italian marble, roaring modern fires and leather and dark oak furnishings, the facilities include a silver steel indoor pool, a central, all-enclosed glass amphitheatre-style sauna, vitality pool with water massage jets, a black mosaic steam room, an ice fountain and heated relaxation beds. Situated above this dramatic ‘Thermal Floor’ is a 24/7 access Technogym.
The hotel’s ESPA Life spa features an impressive 17 treatment rooms, where a team of naturopaths, traditional Chinese medicine acupuncturists, herbalists and osteopaths tailor personal lifestyle programmes to promote health and wellbeing. My companion and I enjoyed a bamboo massage, the instrument being used as an aid for joint release, as well as an ‘ESPA Time,’ which includes a full-body massage and an invigorating, deep tissue facial.
Other treatments include the ESPA Iconic Back Face and Scalp Treatment, comprising back exfoliation and hot stone massage and a facial and scalp massage. For those having difficulty sleeping, the ’Sleep Ritual’ may be the best choice. It involves guided breathing and visualisation combined with full body hot stone massage, therapeutic scalp massage and pressure point foot massage with binaural rhythms to help clear the mind.
The other advantage at the Corinthia is that being within a short walking distance of London’s lively West End, couples can enjoy a post-massage treat at the theatre.
Slipping into a comfy hotel dressing gown and slippers, heading down an ornate spiral staircase, along a pebble-strewn path past a stretch of vineyard and lavender and rosemary plants to a spa in a southern French chateau sounds like the perfect joie de vivre romantic escape.
That’s what the 220-acre Chateau St. Pierre de Serjac in the Languedoc region offers. Dating from the Medieval period, the chateau was taken over in the late 19th century by Baron Cyprian de Crozals and it remained in his family until 2011 when sold to Irish developer Karl O’Hanlon and winemaker, Laurent Bonfils, whose family is the largest private vineyard owners in the region.
Aside from an outdoor 30-meter infinity pool, tennis and boules courts, bicycles and a small gym, the chateau’s Cinq Mondes Spa features a sauna, Jacuzzi, hammam and 12-meter heated swimming pool with glass walls allowing sunlight to flood in. A full menu of treatments include a Moroccan massage using hot argan oil; a Javanese inspired energizing aromatic scrub with an earthy scent of zesty spices; facials using tropical flowers and anti-wrinkle treatment for both the face and neck employing an ancient Japanese Ko Bi Do procedure.
Feeling romantic, my partner and I enjoyed a couples’ massage, a soothing ‘French-Polynesia ritual,’ inspired by Lomi-Lomi using deep pressure from the therapist’s forearms and long continuous movements, and a toning Indian ayurvedic massage with warm vanilla and cardamom oils that helped relieve muscle tension.
Guests can stay in one of eight rooms in the chateau itself or in two-to-four bedroom, self-catering houses beside it.
While nestled deep in the countryside, Chateau St. Pierre de Serjac is a one-hour drive away from Montepellier and also Carcassonne, with its stunning citadel. Mediterranean beaches are also close while charming, wine-making villages dot the horizon.
Since ancient times, Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort in southwest Tuscany has been home to numerous underground sulphurous hot springs lauded for their health-giving qualities – for skin, respiration, blood circulation and rheumatic ailments.
Located in a large open space beside a terrace where breakfast is served, the bathing area consists of a large central pool with threads of floating nutrient-rich algae and a network of smaller, step-in Jacuzzi-like tanks around it. Housed inside a few steps away are sauna and steam rooms and a 54-room spa.
From the main pool guests enjoy a view of a castle turret in the nearby hilltop village of Saturnia while a relaxation room with comfy sofas and chaise longues overlooks the pools and countryside. Spa treatments are diverse with some lasting several days comprising a regime of exercise such as pilates, physiokinetic therapy, facials and frequent mud applications.
Four notable treatments are the ‘Saturnia Amber’ by which balls of ancient fossil resin from the Baltics help relax and detoxify; the ‘Gold Experience,’ in which a mix of 24-carot gold, silk and ginger stimulate production of collagen and elastin, as well, as a scrub enriched with extracts of ginger, chamomile, silk protein and jojoba oil to exfoliate skin; and the ‘Emotional Four Hands’ massage, my choice and one I will remember for years to come. My companion opted for the ‘Saturnia Mud Pack,’ known for its high anti-oxidizing properties, followed by a revitalising massage with aromatic oils. She emerged beaming with vitality.
The 5-star hotel features 128 rooms bearing the names of local plants and trees such as azalea, lavender and bay, with five different accommodation options including two grand suites and 11 executive rooms.
Arrival at the Six Senses Hotel and Spa nestled amid pretty foliage and vineyards of Portugal’s Douro valley with its surrounding tranquil, relaxed atmosphere and use of natural materials is almost Zen-like.
Access to the 57-room hotel is down a narrow cobblestone lane lined with vineyards, Cyprus trees and lavender and rosemary bushes, off the main road, and on to a compact car-park beside the entrance door.
Spa facilities at the hotel are exceptional. A large heated indoor swimming pool with water jets is the central feature around which are sauna, steam room and a special herb sauna with fresh lavender, lemon grass and chamomile. Holistic face and body treatments take place in 10 separate rooms, either single or multi-day therapies. Make sure to try one of the Six Senses signature massages – deep tissue, detox, energizer or holistic.
There is even a small adjacent room at which guests can learn how to make an assortment of organic products including face scrubs, laundry products and kitchen pharmacy potions to body scrubs, face and hair masks, lip balms and home fragrances from fruits, spices and herbs.
The 57-room renovated 19th century manor house consists of a series of interconnecting corridors providing access to the restaurant, the breakfast room, the bar and the wine library. The latter is a delightful place to sit and relax featuring floor-to-ceiling shelves of books, a funky ceiling chandelier-like lighting structure made from bottles and glass-fronted shelves lined with wines.
The hotel also hosts diverse activities including yoga and meditation with a ‘singing’ Tibetan bowl.
Nestling on a cliff-side in the exclusive south-western area of Calvià in Mallorca, Pure Salt Port Adriano hotel comprises a large cream-colored building with two formidable tower-like sections with a giant ‘S’ adorning the facade.
The ‘O’ Spa Centre here includes a heated pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam-room, gym and a hair salon. While there, I delighted in a comprehensive deep tissue massage whereby fingers, hands and forearm loosened stubborn knotty tissue. My companion basked in an ‘Aqua Inmersion’ facial, a vitamin A treatment that provided a boost of hydration and elasticity to her skin. It began with an inhalation of natural flower scents, a short stretch and pressure massage, a cleansing and then application of a mask. Skincare products used are Natura Bissé and handmade Mallorcan Gaia. Other treatment options include Swedish and aromatherapy massages; abhyanga, full-body, rhythmic and rejuvenating with warm essential ayurvedic oils; murda taila, a specialized scalp massage and lomi lomi, a Polynesian practice. Foot and hand reflexology is also offered as well as a range of other facials such as ‘Citrus Essence’ and clay masks.
Our nights in this adults-only luxury property were spent in a sea-view suite which also offered a ‘swim-up’ channel right outside our door, one I used to banish morning drowsiness. We also enjoyed a Jacuzzi-style bathtub behind a glass wall separating the bathroom from the bedroom, a double sink, leather couch with fronting glass coffee-table and ample cupboard space.