The traditionally open culture in the Netherlands makes it receptive to spa and wellness techniques from across the world. Saunas adopt Scandinavian and Russian rituals, occasionally seasoned with new-age crystals and chanting. There’s often a nude day, too, for saunas in particular and occasionally for thermal pools as well. From Amsterdam to Maastricht, here’s our pick of Dutch spa retreats, bookable on Culture Trip.
Amsterdam’s glorious Conservatorium, a now-modernised late 19th-century Art Nouveau extravaganza, is among the country’s finest hotels. Its chic contemporary minimalism was achieved by much-lauded Italian designer Piero Lissoni. Inside, the award-winning Akasha Holistic Wellbeing – part urban retreat, part-wellness centre – offers a bewildering array of treatments from oenotherapy (wine-based) to reflexology, hammams to massages. Wraps, watsu (water-based massage), exfoliation and Ayurvedic treatments colour the picture, and you might tune your seven chakras, too. An 18m (60ft) lap pool and vast gym, plus fitness and yoga instructors, suggest an exhausting if not exhaustive stay.
Overlooking Lake Bussloo near Apeldoorn, the Bussloo strives to get you out of your head and back into your body. There’s a distinct new age vibe to this modern resort where gongs might reverberate through saunas, and balls of salt are almost ceremoniously crushed by the “priests” of pampering. Russian-style birch whisking is just for starters. How about floating in a saltwater Mexican-themed cenote, or sinkhole, or “fragrance journeys” with essential oils? Finish with a sound meditation in a groovy carpeted yurt.
Thermae’s eye-catching, partially glazed pyramidal building atop Cauberg Hill just outside Valkenburg – a charming historic town that has long lured travellers – is almost a landmark in itself. Accommodation includes two jacuzzi suites at the pyramid’s apex, and all rooms have thermal tap water. Yet, it’s the combination of three outdoor pools along with an array of saunas (culminating in the aufguss special where hot scented steam is conducted towards clients), treatments and massages that clinch cloud nine.
In the pretty countryside near Maastricht, this fastidiously restored former monastery and country estate boasts parkland and formal gardens. Beautifully appointed rooms and public areas range from opulent to grand-rustic. Spa and wellness facilities occupy the estate’s ancient cellars, where the 14m (45ft) Roman-style pool has sliding glass doors that open onto a terrace. Treatments mostly use Parisian brand Sothys products; try the signature Japanese-inspired hanakasumi using cherry blossom and rice powder.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Tom Coggins.