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Beauty journalist Alice Hart-Davis lines up ten of the best health and wellness spas in the world

Photo by Gregor Schuster

New York

New York

Great Jones Spa

It’s hard to say what’s more of a surprise here; finding a full range of thermal spa options (sauna, steam, freezing plunge pool and hot whirlpool) in the Water Lounge inspired by the Caracalla baths of Ancient Rome, or the ‘water wall’ waterfall that cascades down all three storeys of the building – all in Lower Manhattan.

Great Jones is a gem of a retreat and along with a treatment menu of massages ranging from Swedish to Thai via Shiatsu and reflexology and nearly a dozen facials, there are full hair-styling, manicure and waxing services available too. Use of the Water Lounge is free, if you book $100-worth of treatments. Alternatively, hang out there for three hours for $50, drinking smoothies and escaping the pressures of the city.

Photo by Spa Great Jones

Paris

Paris

Spa le Bristol by La Prairie

This is the only spa in Paris where you can get a La Prairie facial, which is said to be second-to-none in helping to combat premature ageing, environmental damage and the general wear and tear of ‘modern living’. A visit here is pure luxury and indulgence from the word go. Unlike many dark and cosy city centre spas, the treatment rooms get natural light and look onto a chic ‘interior garden’. There are just eight treatment rooms (two of them twin rooms, one of which has a Turkish bath, a whirlpool bath and its own terrace). The ‘Russian Room’ in the basement has a heated marble table fitted with hydrotherapy jets – a first for Paris – and a private hammam to warm you up before your treatment. Grande luxe.

Photo by Spa-Le Bristol

London

London

Espa Life at the Corinthia

The vast (35,500 square ft) expanses of the Espa Life spa with its Italian marble and leather furniture the colour of Champagne would make it impressive in any location – but slap bang in the middle of London, it’s little short of extraordinary. There are relaxation pods, an amphitheatre-style sauna, a hammam, a steam room, private suites and treatments galore, and while the gym is managed by elite trainer Stephen Price, the hair salon is masterminded by Daniel Galvin. Come for instant beautification before a posh night out, or chill here all day. Book a City Hideaway Spa Experience (£185) and along with a facial and a massage (30 minutes each) you get a quick manicure, the chance to hang out in the sauna, hammam and beautiful Vitality pool, plus lunch with a glass of Champagne.

Photo by Espa Life at the Corinthia

Miami

Miami

Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa

From its HQ in Arizona, Canyon Ranch has been helping people towards greater wellness for 35 years. Its Miami outpost is a fabulous beachfront hotel and spa where huge, light-filled suites offer glorious views of the ocean. With a vitality pool, a climbing wall, a big gym, 40 indoor and outdoor exercise classes each day and a 70,000-ft sq spa, your experience can be as energetic or indulgent as you want to make it. The thoughtfully planned healthy delicacies among the dining options mean the food won’t undermine your good efforts. There is expert advice available on every wellbeing topic, too, from bone health and weight loss to stress and couples intimacy. It’s also within easy reach of South Beach if you have energy left over for going out once you’ve acquired the body beautiful.

Photo by Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa

Cancun

Cancun

 Sense at the Rosewood Mayakoba

Sense is a stunning modern ‘ecological enclave’ of a hotel with an equally breathtaking spa on a glorious arc of white sand beach, tucked away in the vivid green jungle of a private island, which you reach by private launch or on foot across the bridge. Ancient Mayan culture pops up in the artworks on display and, naturally, in the treatments. Allow time to exert yourself in the gym or the outdoor pool, before blissing out in the treatment rooms with their view of lush tropical greenery, or working your way through the full hydrotherapy options. And how fab does the signature treatment sound – a two-hour massage that’s performed outdoors and involves Mayan chocolate…

Photo by Sense at the Rosewood Mayakoba

Toronto

Toronto

Miraj Hammam Spa at the Shangri-La

If you like your spa to have a real heart and soul, you’ll love it here. The Miraj is small (a hammam and nine treatment rooms) but combines a warm and calming aesthetic with luxury and great energy – and the people are lovely, too. Claudalie’s effective beauty potions are based on the skin-restoring powers of the antioxidants in grape seeds. Innovative products may not seem an ideal fit with the Miraj’s ‘rituals from the ancient world’ spa approach but it works out beautifully. Prices start at CAD$130 for half an hour in the hammam. Allow time after your treatment for a cup of sweet mint tea and grapes.

Photo by Miraj Hammam Spa

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

The Spa at the Peninsula

The Peninusula Spa, all discreet elegance and beige and stone hues, occupies the eighth floor of Hong Kong’s most famous hotel and offers the best views you can find across Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island (there’s a swimming pool up there, too, also with the view). This spa aims at nothing less than the ultimate in relaxation and rejuvenation and takes a mind-body-spirit approach, treating you in one of 30 rooms or leaving you to enjoy hammam-style steam rooms, saunas and aromatherapy experience showers. You could double up with your partner for a private ‘spa within a spa’, or give yourself an instant facelift that lasts for up to three days with an Intraceuticals facial.

Photo by The Spa at the Peninsula

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Spa at the Mandarin Oriental

A view of the Las Vegas Strip might not rival that of a Maldivian shore or Swiss lake, but the Mandarin Oriental takes its spa here as seriously as anywhere, and does it just as well, with its seamless blend of traditional Eastern therapies and modern sophistication. It’s one of the few spas worldwide to boast a Forbes five-star award. There’s a full ‘thermal suite’ of steam rooms, hammam, laconium (dry heat, but less hot than a sauna), vitality pool, ladies’ rhassoul, men’s sauna and ice fountain, along with 17 treatment rooms and a Chinese foot spa. What better place to regain your equilibrium after a night on the tables or out on the town?

Photo by Mandarin Oriental spa

Sydney

Sydney

CHI The Spa Sydney

Inspired by the Shangri-La legend (a place of peace, enchantment and wellbeing), the Chi spa offers a happy blend of Asian influences (a holistic approach, lots of floating flowers, and soft-footed therapists) with Aussie undertones (treatments featuring Australian healing techniques and indigenous ingredients such as eucalyptus and lemon myrtle). Book yourself one of the three treatment suites that overlook the Harbour Bridge, chill out in the amazing infinity edge spa bathtub and admire the fabulous view or take lunch on the terrace. For the full Australian spa experience, try the Australian Botanical Retreat, a relaxing 15-minute soak in a giant marble bathtub, followed by an invigorating lemon myrtle body scrub and a bush honey and macadamia body wrap.

Photo by CHI The Spa

Rome

Rome

De Russie Wellness Zone at the De Russie Hotel

Despite its slick appearance and city centre location five minutes’ walk from the Spanish Steps, the Wellness Zone at the de Russie manages to create an intimate, home-from-home atmosphere. There’s a dedicated hydrotherapy space with a pool, sauna and Turkish bath (appropriately enough, given what the Romans did for the concept of bathing), a handful of treatment rooms and a state-of-the-art gym. You have to love it for offering, along with all the body wraps, Thai massage and a score of facials, an ‘Ancient Roman Ritual’ treatment which involves a footbath, invigorating exfoliation and soothing massage to revive tourists footsore from seeing the sights.

Alice Hart-Davis writes about health and beauty for The Times, The Observer and many other newspapers and magazines. She is the creator of Good Things skincare 

Photo by De Russie Wellness Zone

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