Given it was the Belgians who first began using the term ‘spa’ centuries ago, it is not surprising that this relaxing past time remains extremely popular throughout the country. So much that you can now find a spa resort in nearly every town, making it a challenge to pick which one to visit first! Here are five recommendations for a bit of Belgian spa self-care.
1. Les Thermes de Spa
The namesake of the calming concept we now know as the spa, Spa is a town located in the Ardennes, southeast Belgium. Initially thriving on the popularity of its waters as far back as the sixteenth century, when visitors from all over the world came to bathe in and drink the waters, the resort or ‘spa’ that developed around the original springs in the town has since seen visitors such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas père, Czar Peter, and Meyerbeer. Once known as ‘the café of Europe’ due to its clientele, modern day visitors can indulge in the spa experience at Les Thermes de Spa, with its thermal pools overlooking the town below along with saunas, hammams, relaxation areas and various treatments on offer. To cope with the huge popularity of the spa, the town has a variety of hotels throughout, providing accommodation should you wish to stay longer than a day. Be sure to book as it is one of the most sought-after spas in Belgium!
2. Thermen Londerzeel
Hosting the usual spa treats such as indoor pool, jacuzzi, warm foot baths, cooling bath and steam baths as well as an extensive range of spa treatments, Thermen Londerzeel also offers nine sauna cabins. As the main attraction, each of these cabins offers a different feature, just some examples being a gigantic aquarium, Himalayan salt stones, storm effects, infrared and an Austrian alpine cabin with cosy fire. Each feature provides its own health benefits, making your spa experience even healthier! Another popular feature of this spa are the Finnish Aufguss sessions (a wellness ritual performed in a sauna) which are led by a professional sauna master. A unique experience worth a visit!
Combining the healing powers of nature with those of the spa, Nooz is a nature-focused resort offering outdoor massages and hot tubs warmed by wood-based fires. It is a land of quaint forest lodges connected by wooden walkways and for those who love the sea, there is even a Sea Nooz which offers a luxury Fisherman’s cabin by the seaside with its own wellness haven. The founder, Wim Vanacker, aims to reconnect people with their environment and with such unusual facilities, such as its floating bath with ambient sounds and colours, it surely does just that. Located in Grobbendonk just outside Antwerp, you can choose to spend anywhere from four hours up to an entire week in the magical retreat and can opt for one of several packages accordingly. There is even themed accommodation. Imagine Lounge boasts its own outdoor patio and pool, Forest Lodge its own jacuzzi, Heaven Lounge its own massage room and there is even an immersive cinema room if you would like your own private movie screening from your bed! A truly authentic spa experience that unsurprisingly has won many awards.
4. Waer Waters
Located just outside of Brussels, Waer Waters describes their spa ‘as wellness ought to be’. Standing out amongst the many other Belgian spas through its decision to not use Chlorine, this has led to a unique set of facilities and treatments which will leave you feeling calm and relaxed. The Kelo sauna is constructed using a rare type of 300-year-old-pine tree and provides a steady 85-degree heat, whilst an ice fountain provides the chillier temperatures. There are also steam baths, hammams, plunge pools and swimming ponds which can be taken advantage of in swimsuit or nude, and even a fitness complex so that you can work up an appetite for a well-deserved dinner in their Brasserie after a full day of healing and soothing.
5. Thermae Boetfort
Ever wanted to relax in a Castle? Located in a 400-year-old castle in Melsbroek, Thermae Boetfort offers you the chance to recharge with a 16th century Château as the setting to its nine different saunas, swimming pools, jacuzzis and wellness baths, as well as its private saunas and zero-gravity flotation tanks where you can float your way into total relaxation. There are various treatments available including bamboo facials, the traditional Belgian shell massage, manicures and detox treatments. Swimsuit is optional, however if you choose to brave the nude approach you can also partake in daily Aufguss rituals in the sauna. Should you wish you extend your stay in paradise, there is a restaurant on the main floor and the Silence bar is in the castle’s former stables, including an upper floor with wooden loungers for a quick nap! And of course an overnight stay in the hotel is always an option!