The world’s most pampering spa hotels

The pool at Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti (Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti)
The pool at Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti (Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti)

At a properly pampering hotel spa, wellness doesn’t have to be about deprivation — wine, Michelin-starred menus and time by the pool all come as part of the deal.

Add these indulgent stays to your hit list...

Schloss Elmau, Germany

Pool view from above at Schloss Elmau (Schloss Elmau)
Pool view from above at Schloss Elmau (Schloss Elmau)

The setting alone feels restorative: high in the Bavarian Alps, ringed by snow-dusted peaks and cloaked in dense forest. But while you can hike tree-lined trails or wild swim in nearby lakes, the real feel-good magic at Schloss Elmau comes with a day spent in the spa. Or should we say, spas: there’s not one, but a full six on site, each with its own draws from family-friendly pools to steamy hammams. Regular multi-night retreats, themed around the likes of weight loss, muscle strengthening or tai chi, let you zoom in on specific niggles, while a rich cultural calendar feeds the soul with live music concerts. Food is given as much respect as spa-ing, with more than a dozen dining spots to choose from, including two-Michelin-starred Luce D’Oro.

From £335pp, schloss-elmau.de

Les Prés d’Eugénie, France

The white clay bath at Les Prés d’Eugénie (Les Prés d’Eugénie / Yoan Chevojon)
The white clay bath at Les Prés d’Eugénie (Les Prés d’Eugénie / Yoan Chevojon)

Many people come to this hotel in the sleepy southwest of France to eat: owner Michel Guérard’s restaurant has held three Michelin stars for decades, and his onsite cookery school trained hundreds of aspiring home chefs. But for wellness seekers the cavernous Ferme Thermale spa, set in a converted former farm building, is the real draw. Treatments revolve around local mineral spring waters, rich in sulphur and thermal plankton — steam chambers, herb-infused baths and cellulite-banishing jets all feature, alongside ‘weightless’ flotation sessions in a pool of white clay. Afterwards retire to the country-chic hotel rooms, dressed in floral fabrics, or sample Guérard’s signature ‘slimming cuisine’, which has all the wow-factor of the Michelin menus but with a fraction of the calories.

From £215, lespresdeugenie.com

Six Senses Douro Valley, Portugal

Inside a treatment room at Six Senses Douro Valley (Six Senses Douro Valley)
Inside a treatment room at Six Senses Douro Valley (Six Senses Douro Valley)

One of the world’s big spa hotel brands, Six Senses has feel-good retreats in destinations as far-flung as Bhutan and Brazil. But there’s just something about its Portuguese outpost, surrounded by rows of grapevines in the UNESCO-listed Douro Valley, that sings with sybaritic perfection. Sign up for the brand’s signature wellness screening — a non-invasive session that charts your biomarkers to produce personalised recommendations for optimum health — then sample a locally inspired facial using anti-aging grape products. Build on the feel-good factor with dips in the pools (the indoor one is light-flooded; the outdoor one feels made for the ‘gram) or glasses of silky local red wine on the terrace.

From £274, sixsenses.com

Euphoria Retreat, Greece

The central spiral staircase in the spa at Euphoria Retreat (Euphoria Retreat)
The central spiral staircase in the spa at Euphoria Retreat (Euphoria Retreat)

A long-standing favourite among in-the-know spa editors, Euphoria Retreat in the Peloponnese is a world-class spa hotel with a distinctly Greek heart. Founder Marina Efraimoglou has created a series of unique programmes, underpinned by traditional healing methods, to suit just about anyone — whether you want de-stressing massages, a hardcore fitness retreat or a deep-dive into your emotional health. The design of the spa space is extraordinary, with a spherical pool that evokes the feeling of being in the womb, and a Kniepp therapy foot bath set within an architectural spiraling staircase. Menus in the Gaia restaurant are healthy, but not punishingly so — you can still get a glass of vino with dinner, and hearty servings of moussaka.

From £251pp, euphoriaretreat.com

Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives

Tropical spa bliss at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru (Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru)
Tropical spa bliss at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru (Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru)

Coming out of the pandemic with a new concept, the spa at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru is more holistic than ever. The indoor-outdoor oasis design already encouraged guests to connect with tropical isle nature over their back rubs or anti-ageing facials, but now AyurMa spa puts the planet front and centre, with naturopathy, an enhanced yoga programme and a further focus on Ayurvedic healing. Disturbed sleepers should sign up for the Om Supti Night Ritual, a 150-minute evening treatment designed to help you drift off with ease, via outdoor baths and chakra work. As if the Maldives wasn’t already paradisical enough.

From £1,903, fourseasons.com/maldiveslg

Chiva-Som, Thailand

Chiva-Som in Thailand is a regular spa award-winner (Kiattipong Panchee)
Chiva-Som in Thailand is a regular spa award-winner (Kiattipong Panchee)

Strictly speaking, Chiva-Som is more wellness retreat than indulgent spa hotel — but given it’s also set on a sun-drenched stretch of beachfront, why split hairs? Since the 1990s this cult resort in Hua Hin has been drawing visitors to Thailand who are looking for a full-fledged healthy reset. Fuelled by veg prepared from the onsite organic garden, they join serene morning yoga sessions in the alfresco pavilions or meet with wellness practitioners specialising in everything from traditional Chinese medicine to acupuncture. And, of course, soak up the beautiful Thai climes; with soft sands and beautiful pools, time kicking back under the rays is guaranteed.

From £526pp, chivasom.com

Stanly Ranch, Auberge Resorts Collection, USA

The spectacular sauna at Stanly Ranch in Napa Valley (Auberge Resorts Collection)
The spectacular sauna at Stanly Ranch in Napa Valley (Auberge Resorts Collection)

Napa Valley might be mostly about wine, but there’s a serious spa scene too — and with the opening of Stanly Ranch in 2022 the standard was raised another notch. Centred around an open-air pool overlooking the surrounding fields, Halehouse Spa combines state-of-the-art facilities (hyperbaric oxygen chamber, salt therapy, a phenomenal sauna) with expert bodywork from grade-A therapists. After an energetic morning yoga session and a peruse through the dangerously chic spa gift shop, you can drift down for breakfast at the ranch’s Gavel cafe for guilt-free enjoyment of some truly sublime pastries. Cool contemporary rooms, meanwhile, overlook vineyards and come with private firepits.

From £1,081, aubergeresorts.com/stanlyranch

La Mamounia, Morocco

Morocco-style opulence at La Mamounia (La Mamounia / Alan Keohane)
Morocco-style opulence at La Mamounia (La Mamounia / Alan Keohane)

There’s nothing understated about the spa at La Mamounia: this place is a riot of Moroccan excess, with marble swathes, intricate tiling and glassy pools. But then, would you expect anything less from Marrakech’s grande dame hotel? You’re here first and foremost to sample the hammam, where you’ll get skin sloughed with an exfoliating kessa glove then purified with a rhassoul clay body wrap. After finding your zen, take a walk in the orange blossom-strewn gardens, sip a martini in the cosy Churchill bar or feast on flaky pastilla pie in the excellent Le Marocain restaurant.

From £600, mamounia.com

Ananda in the Himalayas, India

Yoga is a focus at Ananda in the Himalayas (Ananda in the Himalayas)
Yoga is a focus at Ananda in the Himalayas (Ananda in the Himalayas)

Like Chiva-Som, Ananda isn’t somewhere you just pop into for a simple massage — rather, you come for a full-on reset. That doesn’t mean though that it doesn’t feel indulgent. The setting is spectacular and almost spiritual; in a palatial pile in the foothills of northern India’s Himalayan mountains, surrounded by forest. The Ayurvedic cuisine is delicious, as well as good for you, and booze is available on request (unless you’ve signed up for a specific strict programme). As for the rambling spa? It combines a greatest hits reel of Indian and Western treatments, meaning there’s nothing that can’t be tackled, whether guests need a fitness overhaul or emotional healing after personal trauma.

From £620pp, anandaspa.com

COMO Shambhala Estate, Bali

A serene double treatment room at COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali (COMO Shambhala Estate)
A serene double treatment room at COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali (COMO Shambhala Estate)

Of all the fabulous COMO spa hotels that exist, few have the following of Bali’s Shambhala Estate. In the island’s jungle interior at Ubud, this wellness-focused resort has seen its fair share of big-name guests who come for low-key relaxation, immersion in nature and the chance to restore balance in their hectic lives. Highly personalised service and consultations ensure treatments are tailored, while a daily schedule of activities — Pilates, hydrotherapy, cycling through tiered rice terraces — gives another dimension to the wellness immersion. When you feel like you’ve had your fill of the (admittedly beautiful) estate grounds, the hotel can arrange feel-good activities further afield, such as rafting on the Ayung River or a purification ceremony at Tirta Empul temple.

From £743, comohotels.com

Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti, Italy

Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti is big on the views (Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti)
Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti is big on the views (Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti)

Ski and spa — a match made in heaven. Or at least it is at this contemporary resort in the Italian Dolomites, where you can spend mornings tackling the Madonna di Campiglio ski area and afternoons in its 5,000 square metre temple to wellness. Whether you’re doing laps in the glassy pool or sweating it out in the sauna, you’ll never feel too far from the surrounding mountainous landscapes - giant floor-to-ceiling windows around the spa make sure of it — while treatments bring in local goodies such as chestnut flower and alpine butter. Best of all, diets are irrelevant: when night falls, decadent tagliolini pasta with langoustines and truffle awaits in the Dolomia Restaurant.

From £371, dolomiti.lefayresorts.com

Rosewood Mayakoba, Mexico

Lush spa environs at Rosewood Mayakoba (Rosewood Mayakoba)
Lush spa environs at Rosewood Mayakoba (Rosewood Mayakoba)

With a setting this special — straddling pristine beach, wildlife-filled mangroves and luminous lagoons — just being at Rosewood Mayakoba feels like a feel-good reset. But the vibe reaches peak at the Sense Spa, an indoor-outdoor space set on its own jungle-cloaked island. Referencing local Mayan traditions, treatments incorporate healing herbs from the onsite garden and work to improve your personal energy as well as any aches and pains; you can even sign up for a reflective session with the resident shaman. Beyond the spa, find another kind of spiritual moment at the Zapote Bar — home to an excellent mezcal list.

From £985, rosewoodhotels.com

The Saxon, South Africa

Indoor-outdoor vibes at The Saxon (The Saxon)
Indoor-outdoor vibes at The Saxon (The Saxon)

There aren’t a lot of city hotels where the big draw is wellness, but The Saxon in Johannesburg is an exception. Set over a 10-acre gated stretch of swish neighbourhood Sandhurst, with clipped lawns, lush gardens and allotment patches, it has a tranquil vibe to its grounds that belies the urban location. But the city’s most exclusive hotel also comes with one of South Africa’s best spas. After a soak in the bubbling hot tubs, plump for a signature therapy — the African Opulence puts fragrant baobab oil and tea-infused body butter to good work, alongside rhythmic massage. Bedrooms, dressed in warm honeyed tones, keep the soothing vibe going. If money is no object, book the Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite, where the esteemed leader overnighted on many occasions.

From £542, saxon.co.za

The Dolder Grand, Switzerland

Outside the palatial Dolder Grand in Zurich (The Dolder Grand)
Outside the palatial Dolder Grand in Zurich (The Dolder Grand)

The Swiss know a thing or two about spa-ing: names like Chenot and Clinique La Prairie are world-beating when it comes to life-changing wellness. But if you’d like an experience that’s more pampering than full-out retreat, the 4,000 square metre spa at Zurich’s landmark Dolder Grand fits the bill. The extensive treatment list (which employs La Prairie products, by the way) meets a maze-like series of spa rooms, plus outdoor whirlpool and cafe. Come evening, the cushiness continues with a blow-out feast in the two-Michelin-starred restaurant. As for the slick suites? They’re outfitted in cool contemporary tones and overlook trees and lawns.

From £620, thedoldergrand.com

The Well, Norway

Meditative sauna in Norway’s The Well (The Well)
Meditative sauna in Norway’s The Well (The Well)

The Scandi countries know how to spa, a fact underlined by this stay just a hop outside of Norwegian capital Oslo. With bountiful saunas — ranging from a high-humidity ‘tropical’ version to a northern lights-inspired laconium — plus 10 pools, myriad steam rooms and a Japanese onsen, facilities are so extensive and enthralling that you might not ever actually make it to your hotel room (which would be a shame, as they’re blissfully stylish). Word to the slightly shy: this being Norway, they do spa-ing in the buff, which means cossies are banned in most facilities apart from on Tuesdays.

From £195, thewell.no

Silversands Grenada

The 100m pool at Silversands Grenada (Silversands Grenada)
The 100m pool at Silversands Grenada (Silversands Grenada)

If the longest infinity pool in the Caribbean doesn’t draw you to Silversands Grenada, then perhaps the spa treatments will: many feature leading dermatological brand 111SKIN, the Harley Street specialists known for seriously effective skincare. When paired with regular free yoga and fitness classes, and ‘wellness baths’ with bubbly tub soaks and sound healing, you almost could forget you’re in a tropical paradise. But that you are, which means your break will also include days lazing on Grand Anse Beach, scuba diving in the reef-lined ocean depths and visiting local rum distilleries.

From £680, silversandsgrenada.com

The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, as seen from above (Blue Lagoon)
Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, as seen from above (Blue Lagoon)

Few spa hotels have a setting this unique, surrounded by rambling volcanic rock and vibrant blue mineral pools. But the Retreat Spa, at Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon, doesn’t rest only on the health-boosting properties of the silica-rich thermal waters. You’ll also get a spectacular set of relaxation rooms, saunas (including a steam room inside a cave), nourishing body masks and one-of-a-kind treatments - including the trance-inducing ‘float therapy’, enjoyed in the lagoon itself. By booking a sleek minimalist room, rather than visiting as a day guest, you get late-night access to the pools, plus access to a cosy library with honesty bar.

From £1,250, bluelagoon.com/accommodation/retreat-hotel