10 of the best urban spas
De-stress after city sightseeing with Jane Dunford's guide to urban oases
Spa: With a clutch of awards to its name, ESPA Life at the glamorous Corinthia Hotel London is seriously decadent – all four storeys of it. Curved walls and soft contours create individual pods, black marble adds to the glamour, there’s a heated pool, amphitheatre sauna and huge choice of treatments (trainers, nutritionists and all manner of wellness specialists are on-hand, as is A-lister hairdresser Daniel Galvin). A signature 80-minute Shiatsu-inspired massage costs £160 and leaves guests relaxed and rejuvenated.
Stay: An opulent grande dame of a hotel for the 21st century, the location on the Thames in Whitehall is hard to beat for a special treat. The suites are a favourite with celebs (with a price tag to match). Sip champagne and feast on oysters at art-deco Massimo’s seafood eatery, or enjoy refined British fare at Northall restaurant.
Book it: Rooms from £355 a night.
Spa: For clients heading to the City of Love, a stay at Le Bristol Paris and a spot of pampering at Spa Le Bristol by La Prairie is as good as it gets. With natural light, an interior garden, eight treatment rooms, hydrotherapy jets and the very best products, the spa is an oasis of wellbeing. The La Prairie Anti-ageing facial costs €220 for 80 minutes.
Stay: Arguably Paris’s most luxurious historic hotel, Le Bristol has charm and elegance in spades. Close to the Champs-Elysées, highlights include Michelin-starred dining, a beautiful bar and pool with views over the Paris rooftops.
Book it: Rooms from €910 a night for a superior room.
Spa: Recharge after shopping or make like New Yorkers with the perfect mani at Bliss 49 Spa. Spread over two floors, the spa has nine treatment rooms, as well as steam rooms, saunas, mani-pedi stations (complete with personal headsets) and a huge menu of therapies, including a Hot Cream Manicure ($25).
Stay: A good choice for a girly break, the W New York hotel is glam and hip with a playful vibe, late-night lounges that are perfect for those all-important cocktails and a Manhattan location that means all of New York’s sights (and shops!) are within easy reach.
Book it: Rooms from $399.
Spa: Leave the buzz of Barcelona behind temporarily and retreat into this cutting-edge boutique hotel’s zen spa. There’s a hydro zone (think massage pools and hydrotherapy showers), personal ‘spa valets’ to ensure perfect pampering and treatments based on Mayan and Aztec rituals which use 100% natural products. Try the Shine Facial, sure to leave skin soft and smooth – with a face, neck and shoulder massage thrown in (€85).
Stay: In the trendy Poble Nou district, the 29-storey hotel is quirky and cool – a fun place for a group of friends or a hipster romantic break. There’s a sexy bar and nightclub, two restaurants (including the Michelin-starred Dos Cielos Restaurant on the 24th floor) and outdoor pool too.
Book it: Rooms from £101.81.
Spa: Wellness is a focus at this new riad, which has its own hammam and courtyard relaxation areas for sipping mint tea after spa-ing. The signature traditional hammam treatment involves exfoliation and a facial ghassoul clay mask, typical of Morocco (£30). The mineral-rich clay from the Atlas Mountains improves skin tone.
Stay: Right in the heart of the medina, Riad Sapphire combines historical features with modern comfort. There are eight cool suites simply and elegantly furnished, and a roof terrace to soak up mountain views.
Book it: Special opening rates for bookings before August 31 start at £70 a night (a 50% discount), for a minimum of three nights.
Spa: For those who want to combine a family break with some spa action, the Jumeirah Beach Hotel has it all: saunas, hot tubs, plunge pool and everything from shiatsu to reflexology – plus there’s childminding and excellent kids’ clubs. The 60-minute Shiatsu massage costs £80, but if space-age treatments impress, try sister hotel the Jumeirah Emirate Towers for cryo facials and body treatments which use freezing techniques to reduce the signs of ageing.
Stay: The iconic hotel, inspired by the shape of a wave, is a family favourite, with six swimming pools, kids’ club and unlimited access to the Wild Wadi Water Park. There are dozens of restaurants and city sights close at hand too.
Book it: Rooms from £230 per night for two adults and two children under 12.
Spa: Offering oriental and European treatments, the subterranean LaSpa at Grand Hotel Villa Cora takes wellness seriously and can tailor treatments, as well as offer health check-ups. A His and Hers package, perfect for honeymooners, combines a half-hour salt ritual and a 50-minute couple’s massage (€210).
Stay: History lovers will fall for this 19th-century five-star mansion. A Relais & Chateaux property with just 46 rooms and suites, it’s old-fashioned glamour on steroids, plus it boasts the only outdoor pool in Florence. Explore the city and come back to relax in one of the most romantic settings in town.
Book it: Rooms from €300. relaischateaux.com
Spa: Hipsters in need of some down time will love the vibe of the sexy, cool Cowshed spa. Products are organic, there’s a modern take on the hammam, and comfy mani-pedi stations. Enjoy a customised Cowshed facial (60 minutes, €75) and then relax on a green velvet chaise longue, curtained off for extra privacy.
Stay: In a restored Bauhaus building in Mitte, Soho House Berlin is boho chic at its best. There are 65 rooms over six floors, categorised from Tiny to Extra Large, a rooftop spa and groovy bars and restaurants. Most rooms have a traditional record player and selected vinyl so you can spin some tunes.
Book it: Rooms from €110 a night.
Spa: There’s a pool, gym and a range of beauty treatments and massages on offer in the spa, but in Istanbul a visit to a Turkish hammam and the traditional scrub and soapy wash-off is de rigueur. The ritual begins with a sauna and involves being rubbed down to get rid of dirt and dead skin, before being vigorously washed and massaged with oils until you feel like jelly (in a good way). An 80-minute treatment costs €90.
Stay: In the heart of the city, the 75-room Levni Hotel & Spa is 10 minutes away from top sights such as the Blue Mosque and the spice bazaar. The spacious rooms have lovely views – some boast Jacuzzis that overlook the city – and the breakfast buffet is particularly impressive.
Book it: Rooms from €120 a night.
Spa: The spectacular Akasha spa is a veritable retreat in the centre of the Dutch capital, with an 18-metre pool, seven treatment rooms (including a couple’s suite), and plenty of mood lighting. Treatments marry western and eastern traditions and there’s a hammam and Vichy shower, as well as Amsterdam’s only Watsu pool for hydrotherapy. The signature 75-minute Seven Chakra Experience costs €140.
Stay: Housed in a neo-Gothic building in the museum district, the cutting-edge Conservatorium hotel was designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni and is contemporary, cool and luxurious, with a top-tier restaurant and buzzing bar.
Book it: Rooms from €395.