After a day of sightseeing and snacking your way around Barcelona, the restorative thermal baths and indulgent treatments of the city’s top spa hotels can offer a welcome wind-down.
What was a coal bunker many moons ago has transformed into a subterranean spa at Hotel 1898. Use the dimly lit thermal circuit – a dry sauna, steam bath and pool with bubbly hydromassage – and follow it with a therapeutic treatment. The spa here takes inspiration from East Asian traditions and techniques, incorporating botanical ingredients such as cinnamon and ginger to warm the skin and relax the muscles. Ideally the only plan you’ll have afterwards is sundowners over La Rambla and city views from the roof terrace.
Dubbed a ‘Mediterranean oasis’, the spa at Hotel Sofia offers a large space dedicated to wellness facilities. Indulge in hot and cold therapy, plunge pools, sauna, steam bath and an ice cave to increase circulation and relax the muscles. Then, when you’re ready to dry out, head to the salt cave, a rosy-lit space filled with mineral-rich Himalayan pink salt that’s reputedly antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. If you’re feeling flush, the Sofia also has a private spa suite where you’ll have a sauna, steam bath and hot tub to yourself.
When you need respite from the city, visit Elements of Wellbeing at the Almanac. Start your afternoon with a session in the private sauna and steam room, then book a divine treatment. Try the wine therapy ritual, defined by an antioxidant-rich red-wine wrap that aims to detoxify the skin, followed by a restorative massage – it seems fitting, given that Barcelona is located right on the cusp of Catalonia wine country.
The defining feature of La Florida’s Water Zone is a large indoor-outdoor stainless steel pool – the outdoor section of which is adjacent to some pretty garden terraces and a poolside bar. Inside, the Spa by L’Occitane offers a Provence-inspired treatment menu that prioritises natural ingredients and thoughtfully blended essential oils. The deep-tissue massage is recommended for jet-lagged guests – it uses a combination of lomi lomi-style sweeping strokes, targeted pressure points and gentle stretching of the bod, which helps to release tension and work out post-flight knots.
‘Slow beauty for a fast world’ is the tag line of Yurbban Passage’s organic spa, which claims to be the first vegan spa in Spain. Treatments use products by Scens and Freshly Cosmetics – two organic, plant-based Spanish beauty brands that hit the mark in terms of ethics and effectiveness. Book a signature spa experience and you’ll get a 30-minute water circuit session, a 30-minute massage and a healthy meal by the rooftop pool. Sip the summer breeze cocktail – lychee juice, jasmine, lime, lemongrass, kombucha and Casamigos tequila – against a backdrop of sun-drenched cityscapes.
The AbaC is a small, 15-room hotel that aims to give each guest personal attention for the duration of their stay. If rest and relaxation is on your Barcelona agenda purchase the spa experience, which includes a ‘gourmet welcome’ (after all, the hotel is famous for its food), one night’s accommodation, a 30-minute treatment of your choice (masterminded by celebrity aesthetician and anti-ageing expert Deborah Mitchell) and access to the spa. The spa itself includes a hot tub with underwater lounge chairs, a cold plunge pool, a Turkish hammam and Cleopatra hot-stone chairs made for post-treatment snoozing.
Leon Beckenham contributed additional reporting to this article.