At first, when I thought about wellbeing experiences around the Costa Brava region, the images that immediately came to my mind were of luxury spas in Spain and spa breaks where I got massages and was pampered beyond recognition.
In my Wellbeing in Costa Brava series, I’ve already shown you that wellbeing is holistic and multifaceted, and extends beyond a spa weekend or only spa breaks. It covers rustic retreats that allow you to disconnect from our daily mad dash and reconnect with yourself. It includes yoga experiences for a health spa weekend. It takes you through mindfulness in nature activities. And it introduces you to macrobiotic gastronomy for nourishing and healing you from the inside out.
But this series would be incomplete without spotlighting the best luxury spa hotels, resorts and centers where you can indulge in some of the most exquisite massages, spas, and rejuvenation experiences in Costa Brava. From roman baths to massages that involve feathers, I traveled around the region exploring perfect spa hotel getaways. So for your next holiday in Spain, make it a rejuvenating one.
Here are 10 memorable luxury spas in Costa Brava for those last minute spa breaks.
Aqva Banys Romans Girona
I wasn’t expecting to find historic Roman baths in the heart of Girona’s old town, but I did at Aqva Banys Romans. Arguably one of the best spas in town, this urban rejuvenation center opens up into a secluded experience tucked behind centuries-old rocks and walls with almost 2,000 years of history. There is a glass display underneath its warm baths where you can see legit remains of the ancient baths.
Once inside this minimalistic décor decked out in earth tones, you’ll find saunas plus three types of baths with varying temperatures. Its “circuit of baths” fashioned after old Roman bathing traditions takes you through Frigidarium (the cold bath as its name aptly suggests), the Tepidarium (warm tepid bath) and the Calidarium (hot bath). Its saunas are a steam bath (hammam) and a halotherapy sauna. Foot spa sprays finish off your rejuvenation experience with localized massages.
Balneari Vichy Catalan
Located in the town of Caldes de Malavella which is renowned for its medicinal thermal waters and aquifers, this 19th century Art Noveau grand dame of a hotel with its soft yellow and cream-colored façade holds centuries-old history within its walls.
Dating back to 1881, Spanish physician Dr. Modest Furest i Roca visited Caldes de Malavella and discovered the medicinal properties of waters that emerged from a natural thermal spring called “Puig de les Ànimes”. He then decided to build a wellness center at the location.
In 1883, its mineral-laden healing waters were officially recognized by the public utility and it wasn’t until 1891 that ground was broken for the construction Hotel Balneari Vichy Catalan. It was officially inaugurated on June 12, 1898.
Beyond having its own impressive chapel and interior courtyard garden, Vichy Catalan is known for its hydrotherapy experiences as well as bottling its own water and producing a variety of wellbeing brands and products. Drinking Vichy Catalan water is known to improve digestion and provides natural detoxing properties that cleans the organs, skin, and tissues of toxins.
“Wellness means feeling good in a relaxing environment close to nature”…Sònia Garcia, Balneari Vichy Catalan
From its outdoor pool to two large indoor thermal pools, Vichy Catalan provides a slew of treatments from facial and body wraps and peels to mineral salts and baths and a full-on citrus ritual that nourishes, exfoliates and regenerates the skin.
Cala del Pi
”This is a big house. You arrive as friends and we take care of you,” says manager Javier Colocho.
I believe him. For an upscale five-star luxury property manager, Javier is dressed in very relaxed fashion and has an air around him that instantly puts you at ease. With only 49 rooms and suites, its smaller number of rooms means more intimate access and makes it easier to customize wellbeing for each guest.
“We provide the service of a five-star hotel but with the intimacy of inviting good friends into your own home,” Javier tells me. This is what makes Cala del Pi special because the size makes it easier to hear, know, and anticipate what their guests want. The exquisite property with its complementary color façade of blue and orange overlooks the Mediterranean and has its own private beach access.
The wellness experiences at Cala del Pi are truly sensory and some of the best I’ve ever experienced. Cala del Pi pulls from nature and the ocean to inspire its treatments. Massages using sound bags on your back and feet that mimic walking on soft beach sands. Cool sprays on your feet and ankles that mirror the slashing of waves against rock with that whooshing sound effect.
The spa offers sensory showers, an ice cave, and various treatments using oils and fragrances from around the world.
Hotel GEM Wellness & Spa Resort
If you’re traveling with small kids, this spa hotel located in the resort town of Lloret de Mar has its very own waterpark that would entertain them for days. This is in addition to its outdoor and indoor heated pools. It offers a mix of hotel rooms and apartments for longer stays with sea views. But the real draw of this health spa and beauty center is its wellness and rejuvenation therapies.
“The cure…the care… the love… and the passion in helping clients mind, body, and soul is what drives me”… Maria Franco, Spa Manager.
For Franco, who is a holistic therapist, she specializes in Thai massage, Ayurveda therapy, lymphatic drainage massages for releasing toxins from the body, and reflexology. She has also been introducing Chinese therapy techniques to the wellness center.
Hostal Spa Empúries
This is one of the most gorgeous seafront properties I’ve visited with stunning views of the Mediterranean and direct beach access. Its history dates back to the turn of the century when a team of archaeologists led by Puig i Cadafalch were working on the nearby Greco-Roman ruins of Empúries and needed a place to stay. At the time, the first building was an old restaurant constructed in 1907 and named Villa Teresita .
Hostal Empúries is also a very sustainable property and in 2010, it was the first hotel in all of Europe to achieve the most complete ecological certification, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Opening its exclusive spa means the hotel is no longer a seasonal property but open all year round as a spa hotel. In addition to several spa treatments on offer, a whirlpool, saunas, steam room and swimming pool, it offers its “Exclusive Sensorial Voyages” treatment. Hostal Spa Empúries also has its own line of organic cosmetics and rejuvenating body oils.
Villa Teresita remains the name of the hotel’s flagship restaurant and it was here I dined on freshly grilled prawns, cuttlefish and lobster rice, and topped it all off with white chocolate, fluffy basil, and basil ice cream. Its freshly baked bread is made from wheat which is 5,000 year old and continually preserved and grown. Eighty percent of the vegetables used are organic and come from owner Cinta Fernandez Camps’ own gardens.
Hotel Balneari Prats
Located in the town of Caldes de Malavella, Hotel Balneari Prat has an outdoor thermal swimming pool which is fed by waters from a natural thermal spring. One which also sustained vestiges of the Roman empire in the region. Many of its rooms have indoor Jacuzzis and its suites have terraces with their own outdoor Jacuzzis.
Upon entering and walking towards your room, you’re immediately enveloped by relaxing scents of calming lavender and jasmine which are sprayed down the corridors. Over a Mediterranean diet-based dinner of salmon and roasted veggies, I sipped relaxing chamomile tea before taking a refreshing soak in my in-room jacuzzi.
In its thermal spa area, you can book services such as bubble bathes as well as mud and seaweed wraps to name a few. It was where I also meant Paqui, who had been working at the hotel for roughly a decade and a half. “I love working with people and it feels like family here,” she tells me.
At Balneari Prats is where I met a friendly parrot named Dollar who was also part of their family.
Hotel Ciutat de Girona
Right in the heart of Girona with walking access to all its major sites and attractions in the old town, Hotel Ciutat de Girona is a green, eco-friendly hideaway. It was the first hotel in the city to be awarded the prestigious sustainable tourism certification – Biosphere Responsible Tourism.
When it comes to wellbeing, in addition to using locally-sourced zero-kilometer products, the hotel champions sports tourism. Athletes and enthusiast alike can bring their bikes which can be serviced for routine maintenance. There are post workout and post competition sports recovery massages on deck and a full service spinning room for an active holiday.
You’ll find a large therapeutic pool for relaxing and rejuvenation as well as can sign up for its “Rituals” package – a series of full body treatments and therapies.
Park Hotel San Jorge
Located in the heart of Costa Brava with an impressive panorama and lovely beach against the backdrop of jutting rocks of Belladona Cove, this spa hotel offers up rooms with sea views. Relaxing with lunch out on its terrace with those views is one of the best ways to enjoy this unique property.
This spa offers lots of treatments – from a steamy hammam and dry sauna to thermal jacuzzi whirlpool and my favorite – a sensory citrus-fragranced shower. Using sea salts, aromatic oils, and wild flower and plant extracts, each therapy is customized for you and designed to release stress and regenerate your skin. Treatments include foot reflexology, anti-cellulite therapy, facials, Pacific-inspired traditional massages using stones, and other physiotherapeutic massages.
There are nearby hiking and horse-riding trails as well as easy access to golf courses for avid golfers.
San Jorge is an ideal place to relax and rejuvenate while soaking up the Mediterranean in all its glory – listening to the sounds of lapping waves.
Spa Hotel Santa Marta
One of my personal favorites in the region, Spa Hotel Santa Marta feels like a five-star home away from home in a luxurious setting. Nestled in seven hectares of wooded forests with private beach access and designed in a minimalist style, I could have spent hours lost in a good book sitting right out on its terrace with sounds of the Mediterranean soothing me. The entire building essentially feels like a balcony overlooking the ocean with rooms having their own exquisite balconies and views.
Its gorgeous outdoor spa building feels like it was designed for taking photos alone. A beautiful multi-layered building perched along a clifftop. There, you can partake in an outdoor yoga class with the ocean as your backdrop. Spa Hotel Santa Marta offers yoga classes outdoors with Ashtanga yoga teachers, where you can do your asanas with spectacular views of the Mediterranean while listening to crashing waves.
Or, you can enjoy its thermal pool with various natural massaging hydrotherapies while looking out at the ocean. Its water circuit includes heated and cold pools, a sauna and Turkish bath as well as a jacuzzi with underwater bed. There are Thai and Ayurveda therapies on offer as well.
I’d be remiss without mentioning its healthy gastronomy which is based on seasonal and local produce using ingredients such as beets, sundried tomatoes, leeks, star anis, and walnuts. This is a property I plan on returning to and spending a longer stay to fully enjoy its stunning rooms with equally stunning panoramas.
Hotel Spa Terraza
Located in the cute town of Roses with views overlooking the Bay of Roses and the 16th century Citadel as its neighbor, Hotel Spa Terraza wins my vote for spa with the best views of the ocean. Its top floor has a open rooftop terrace with stunning views of Roses and the Mediterranean.
Its heated swimming pool is covered by an impressive glass dome with direct views of town. And the best part are some of the treatments it offers.
Spa Terraza’s signature holistic wellness experiences are inspired by art and avant-garde traditions.
“My universe is ecological and artisan, plotting personalized wellness. My passion is to care for your essence, promote your evolution and balance your emotions.”.. Mònica Traviesa, Spa Terraza
One of Terraza’s signature ritual therapies is “Oneiric Surrealism” which is a massage that involves balancing the body’s ying-yang. It uses marigold oil and muscle-stretching techniques to harmonize the body’s two hemispheres. Also on tap are private double treatment rooms, a jacuzzi, jet shower, hammam, Finnish sauna, as well as bi-thermal and aromatic showers.
Imagine a full body treatment that involves the use of feathers gently trailing your skin?
I’ll sign up for that any day!