Wellness is a national pastime in Latvia, where hotels are just as likely to have saunas and spas as they are lobby lounges and a check-in desk. You might be considered eccentric in not subjecting your torso to “whisking”, in which you’re gently pummeled with vegetation, a comical if sullying spa etiquette. But whether you’re in Riga or have ventured further afield, there’s bound to be a spa hotel to suit your wellness needs.
The Grand Poet comprises several imposing buildings between the city centre of Riga and the Old Town. It has a slick wellness centre with a 15m (50ft) pool and an adjacent jacuzzi, plus a low-humidity bio-sauna, aroma room with a salt wall, and a fitness centre with cardio and weight machines. The in-house Hedonic Spa rounds out the offerings with treatments using EviDenS de Beauté and MOSS of the ISLES cosmetics.
In Liepupe hamlet, a few kilometres from the coast near Limbaži town, Liepupe Manor comprises a beautiful 18th-century manor house and an estate with five protected monuments. Baroque detailing gilds the decor, and 10 double rooms exude a romantic costume-drama atmosphere. The organic spa takes an individualistic approach in preparing Latvian-only products – expect blue clay, juniper oil, sea buckthorn, chestnut flowers and hot stone massages to name but a few.
Once a thriving 18th-century Baltic port, today Liepāja lives on beach tourism. The Promenade Hotel has a warehouse-chic look reflecting mercantile origins, but behind a brick facade lie handsome rooms with chandeliers, rugs, paintings and tufted furniture. The in-house spa features BABOR products in a modest range of rituals encompassing algae body wraps, salt-oil scrubs and peeling. The range of massage and aromatherapy is rather more comprehensive and includes lymphatic drainage.
The neat modern four-storey building of Baltvilla sits beside tranquil Lake Baltezers. Its popular restaurant has a charming forest- and lake-facing terrace and a top-floor spa features Biodroga vegan cosmetics. Expect spa rituals using chocolate-vanilla, cupuacu shells and apricot sugar scrubs. Massages can come in the full-body chocolate and hot stone variety.
Just west of Riga, Jūrmala has a seemingly endless beach with rejuvenating pine-scented air. Wellness enough, perhaps, but behind the modern block of Lielupe lies a spa doling out therapies based on the perceived wholesomeness of the locale: expect lavender and sea-salt crystals, honey and marine extracts. If you’d rather a lung-full of fresh oxygen, you can hire professional Nordic walking equipment at the hotel for a small fee and traverse the nearby nature trails, which range from easy to moderate in difficulty.
Out in the ‘wilds’ of rural western Latvia, Piena Muiza (or “Milk Manor”) morphed from a baron’s hunting lodge to dairy training centre, museum and country hotel. Rooms feature pale vintage furniture, decorative mouldings and chandeliers; only maids and butlers are wanting. Unsurprisingly, the spa exalts milk, so there’s all manner of lactic immersion in a pair of roll-top baths shrouded by net curtains. In that process, expect to be seasoned, too, with malted hops, rose essence, honey and grape seed. Udderly eccentric.
The ultimate rustic hideaway, Bergervilla stands in Ziemeļgauja, a so-called “protected landscape” of forest and meadows in northern Latvia. Built as a hunting lodge in 1907, the four pared-down time-warp rooms have (mostly) period furniture, vintage radios and country-themed photographs. Occupying a separate cottage, the spa comprises a wood-burning sauna and lounge with fireplace, plus a six-seater hot tub with hydromassage on the terrace. Simple in-room treatments involve adding a prepared box of ingredients to warm water amid smouldering sprigs of juniper and viburnum.
The Grand in Riga has particularly commodious and elegant rooms featuring an elegantly understated decor of subtly patterned carpets and drapes with solid dark furniture and recessed lighting. Its spa offers a seasonally changing treatment menu; spring calls for a “spring clean” detoxification, while summer is all about firming and balancing. Alternatively, the private Pirts Suite offers a more distinctly Latvian experience inspired by local bathhouse traditions. A sauna followed by a cold plunge primes you for mood-enhancing birch-leaf whisking.
Overlooking the endless beach and cobalt sea at Jūrmala, the Baltic has six glitzy restaurants and bars, which are almost outshone by the huge luxury spa with 400 treatments and facilities such as salt caves and climate therapy. Roman steam baths, Himalayan salt saunas and Rasul mud treatments lend an almost exotic flavour alongside staples such as the Russian-style banya and Kneipp hydrotherapy.
At the Kurshi Hotel, Ericson Laboratoire and Ella Baché facial treatments dominate an extensive spa that also features a range of Ayurvedic massages (though these need to be pre-booked). The saunas and steam baths include a full range of traditional whisks using oak, birch and eucalyptus, while Royal Whisking includes bamboo. And if you’re coming with the family, there are treatments for children and teens, too.
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