An insider’s guide to the top spa hotels in Italy, featuring the best for yoga, infinty pools, thalassotherapy, vinotherapy, massage, and medical and anti-ageing treatments, in locations from the Italian lakes to the top cities.
Lake Garda, Italy
Villa Feltrinelli is a stately home on the western bank of Lake Garda. This private stately home looking over the lake is noteworthy for its old lemon-houses, magnolias, cypress trees, olive groves and Italianate gardens. Steeped in history and a destination for A-list artists, the villa also featured in James Bond’s Quantum of Solace however more recently featured in Guests can relax in the swimming pool, where home-made ice creams are served, or visit the Regeneration Lounge at Acqua di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo SPA, every treatment is tailored to the wishes of the individual, bestowing on the mind and body the magnificence of the Italian Mediterranean. Besides the regenerating rituals provided by the intense age defying action of Mediterranean Re-Activating ComplexTM, and the purifying and illuminating treatments with Mediterranean Oxygenating ComplexTM of the Blu Mediterraneo SPA, every guest will have the privilege of allowing themselves two special treatments created exclusively for the Regeneration Lounge. These intense and highly-valued techniques, both of which use the heady fragrance of cedarwood essential oil and its toning power, are inspired by the gentle and fascinating landscapes of Lake Garda.
Four Seasons Hotel Firenze
Florence, Tuscany, Italy
The Four Seasons has the only hotel spa worthy of the name in central Florence. Housed in an ochre-yellow pavilion giving onto an 11-acre park, it has 10 treatment rooms – two of them doubles – and in a nice touch, uses the products of historic (but these days state-of-the-art) body care and beauty lab Officina Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. Signature treatments include a Chianti wine massage, and a full-body treatment based on iris root powder.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Lake Como, Italy
The hotel’s T-Spa features a heated indoor infinity pool with five hydro-massage areas and an attached outdoor whirlpool tub. The panoramic relaxation lounge with sunbeds has floor-to-ceiling windows commanding lovely lake views. It offers traditional Hammam treatments, pro-radiance facials and holistic foot and leg massages with hot stones. The private T Spa Suite is especially designed for couples or friends, with its own whirlpool tub, sauna and steam room.
Lefay Resort & Spa
Situated on Lake Garda, Lefay combines Chinese medicine with modern Western therapies to reactivate our internal energy system while saving the environment. Their approach to dieting is to make changes to eating habits that are psychologically as well as nutritionally sustainable. The “light menu” is tasty low-cal Mediterranean fare that takes the strain off the digestive system. Fill your time having anti-cellulite massages, body wraps, doing tai chi and cycling round the lake.
Borgo Santo Pietro
Chiusdino, Tuscany, Italy
The Borgo’s lovely spa is basically a whole Tuscan farmhouse in the garden, with exposed stone walls and an exclusive, intimate feel, helped along by the fire which burns in the grate of the warmly elegant reception area on cooler days. There are only two individual treatment rooms, plus an al fresco ‘room’ on the terrace, but in this 15-room hotel there’s rarely a booking bind. They specialise in holistic treatments based on organic ingredients, including several Ayurvedic therapies. Spa manager Tracey Mallallieu is one of Tuscany’s top wellness professionals, and the Borgo has an Italian exclusive (so far) on products by UK firm Heaven Health & Beauty, as used in the spa’s signature ‘Bee Sting Facial’.
The Cavalieri’s huge, opulent Ancient Rome-themed Grand Spa Club covers more than 25,000sqft of indoor and outdoor pools, Turkish baths and saunas, treatment rooms (there are 10, with exclusive La Prairie products used in the more high-end facials and body treatments) and fitness facilities, as well as pilates, yoga rooms and two clay tennis courts. The only downside to this cornucopia of riches is that even hotel guests have to pay for it – €31 (£22) a day for access to the whole Club, €20 (£14) to use the parts of the Club without the outside pools, and €18 (£13) to just use the outside pools – with a whole sun-lounger generously included. Be aware too that locals can also join the club – from 5pm to around 8pm, the gym in particular tends to be full of Romans working out after work.
San Casciano dei Bagni, Tuscany, Italy
The spa is what most people come for, and it certainly delivers. Many of the treatments revolve around the natural thermal waters, rich in sulphur, calcium and other essential elements, that have been known and appreciated since Etruscan times. They are recommended for a series of ailments, from skin complaints to respiratory problems, but in reality, given the elevated target of this luxury resort, Fonteverde is equally geared towards beauty treatments, indulgent massages, Ayurvedic therapies, fitness and other non-medical spa activities. In cooler weather (and this is very much an all-year resort) it’s a joy just to luxuriate in the main thermal pool, or massage and tone various body zones via the resort’s Bioaquam circuit.
Fasano, Puglia, Italy
Borgo Egnazia is a Pompeii-style mapping of villas, piazzas and pools on Italy’s Puglian coast. Its Vair Spa, like the hotel, ticks the luxury list of flickering candlelight, trickling water and cocooning silence in a labyrinth of cream and natural textures, beautifully. Guest at Vair (meaning “true” in Apulian) can, of course, have a body massage or manicure, but they can also explore the sound of their voice with a musician, or have a facial that’s more of a psychological journey than a mere pore-cleansing sensation. Either way, the therapists create real connections with guests.
Verdura Resort – A Rocco Forte Hotel
Ribera, Sicily, Italy
Spreading over 4,000 coolly modernist metres, the Verdura’s standalone wellness centre is probably the top facility in the whole of Sicily, and well up there among Italy’s leading hotel spas. A child-free zone – all except the indoor spa pool, where kids are welcome from 8am to 2pm – it features no less than four outdoor thalassotherapy pools, and has a very distinct approach, following the Kneipp healing and fitness philosophy, which is based on the five pillars of water, plants, exercise, diet and balance. Massages, facials and all the usual treatments are on offer, but the spa, with its hand-picked international staff, specialises in programmes that spread over several days, from detox to slimming to anti-ageing.
Palace Merano Espace Hahaenri Chenot
Merano, South Tyrol, Italy
Behind this 100-year-old chandeliered Italian splendour, with sumptuous bedrooms and charming multilingual staff is a gleaming white medical wing with cutting-edge health and beauty treatments, including the latest lasers and injectables to less invasive, traceless facelifts and collagen-boosters, while its intense detox programme is superb. A barrage of bioenergetic treatments (measuring and boosting vitality levels), massage, phyto-mud therapy, hydro-aromatherapy sessions and strict dietary retraining that is tough but refreshing if you can go the pace. A daily allowance of 800 calories is turned into four-course, bijou, works of art, that all-in-all is very much a favourite with renowned male and female sport stars to Russian tycoons.
Adler Spa Resort Dolomiti
Ortisei, Dolomites, Italy
Exploring the galaxy of Adler spa’s indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, steam baths, grottoes, fitness areas, wellness and beauty zones, can take up the best part of a day. Treatments, from massages to facials, are not included in the hotel’s ‘all-inclusive’ room rates, but prices are competitive – more in the city day-spa bracket than the luxury resort category. There’s even a kids’ section on the menu, offering treatments like the ‘pampering spa with milk and chocolate’.
Paul Knowles CEO and Founder of Liverpool Fitness Magazine and Liverpool Fitness Week.