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The Best Spas To Get Steamy In This Valentine’s Day

Our seven favourite places to pamper oneself (plus a very special guest) this 14 February

  • Photograph courtesy of Rosewood Beijing

It’s easy and, yes, quite cool really to be a bitter cynic about Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s over-commercialised. Yes, social pressure kills romance. But when it comes down to it, are you really going to be the guy who risks his partner’s wrath by not even buying a card? Even if you half believe them when they insist they’re not bothered (they’re lying), it just isn’t worth the risk. So it’s time to bite your tongue, swallow your sarky bitterness and embrace the thing.

If you’re going to up the cute from “awww” to “wooow!” though, gifts of roses, chocolates and sexy pants won’t cut it. To really get in their good books, tuck a flight ticket to a destination with a hot spa into their card.

We are dedicated to helping the course of true love run smooth, so we’ve gathered a bouquet of the most spoiling spa retreats to help win their heart, whether it’s a jam-packed city break you most enjoy together, or holing up in a wilderness love-nest.

Les Sources de Caudalie, Bordeaux

  • Photograph courtesy of Les Sources de Caudalie

“We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine,” said Uruguayan writer Mr Eduardo Galeano, and Les Sources de Caudalie, a château just south of Bordeaux, is the perfect place to shoot for both. Who could fail to fall for someone who took them to this luxurious, rustic retreat surrounded by vineyards?

Here, the Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa is the perfect place for a good old soak, featuring wine barrels repurposed as baths, and a range of own-brand products, enriched with ingredients sourced from Caudalie founder Ms Mathilde Thomas’ family vineyard. The main pool is sheltered by a barn-like building with exposed wooden beams, which heighten the impression of being at a very posh farm.

Couples can book a Vines For Lovers ritual, which includes a facial, barrel bath and candle massage. Over the weekends of 9-10 or 16-17 February, there’s a special two-night Valentine’s package that includes dinner in the two-Michelin-starred restaurant La Grand’Vigne (dress up), and one in La Table du Lavoir (jeans allowed), a half-day spa treatment each, and – with the attention to detail you might not have managed alone – a big bunch of red roses and bottle of champagne waiting in the room when you arrive.

Baccanalian pleasures are guaranteed by the cellar of 16,000 bottles, with fine vintages from the estate’s own Château Smith Haut Lafitte winery. Visit on Valentine’s Day itself and you can order a menu whose rather flowery course titles – “freshness with citrus fruit expression” and “animal and volatile notes” – belie their excellence.

What to pack

  • Saint Laurent Striped Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt

  • Prada Leather Sandals

Royal Mansour, Marrakech

  • Photograph courtesy of The Leading Hotels of the World

Who can say no to a hot and steamy session on Valentine’s Day? Lying together on the slab of an authentic Moroccan hammam and getting pummelled into exaltation certainly beats the Netflix and Deliveroo option. The Royal Mansour Marrakech’s spa covers three floors, with two hammams, an indoor pool and gym, and – alongside the 18 treatment rooms where Dr Hauschka, Sisley – Paris and MarocMaroc are the go-to brands – boasts three wellbeing suites where you can indulge in a couples’ massage.

Hammam treatments include a soaping down with orange flower water, an almond-milk shampoo or a kessa-glove exfoliation, but if that sounds a little too Hideous Kinky, stick to a facial using argan oil and honey.

The hotel’s interiors are a maximalist Arabian dream, every inch covered in intricate designs, from the inlaid marble floors, mosaics and tiled walls, to arched windows draped with embroidered brocades in gold, blue and crimson. Pack some of this season’s statement prints and you’ll blend right in.

Come dinner, there’s no need to risk the boiled sheep’s head or camel spleen at the Jemaa el-Fnaa square. Michelin-starred chef Mr Yannick Alléno is behind La Grande Table Marocaine, one of the hotel’s four restaurants, and widely considered to be the country’s best. He makes wonderful Moroccan classics such as tagine and pastilla from staple ingredients such as medjool dates, olives, saffron and pigeon.

A special Valentine’s Day package includes three nights in a luxurious riad in the grounds – all tiled floors and tropical plants – plus dinner and a spa treatment for two.

What to pack

  • Hartford Mid-Length Printed Swim Shorts

  • Vilebrequin Santah Cotton-Terry Beach Towel

Rosewood Beijing, Beijing

  • Photograph courtesy of Rosewood Beijing

As befits the modern Chaoyang District where it is located, the Rosewood Beijing (the luxury brand’s first hotel in China) is an essay in smart urbanity, with sleek lines, neutral tones, and views of skyscrapers from every pane of glass. Whichever romantic pursuits occupy you and your beloved during your time in Beijing – whether it’s riding a candlelit dragon boat on one of Shichahai’s lakes or shopping in the Dashanzi Art District – retreating to the hotel’s Sense spa is a place to reconnect in peace.

Accessed via a little wooden bridge over an indoor pebble-filled pool, it deals in all manner of jet lag-battling body scrubs, reflexology and massages that run the gamut from a synchronised “duet” by two masseurs to those that use jade, hot basalt river stones or warm candle wax. Book your partner some tui-na, a 2,000-year-old therapy that involves tapping, kneading, pulling and pressing to reduce chronic pain while you go for a Gentleman’s Mani/Pedi to fix up your claws. Other male-specific treatments include a detoxifying Coal Energy wellness therapy, which seems ironic in a city famed for its fossil fuel smog, but lovely nonetheless.

A special Valentine’s offering, the Revitalising Romance afternoon, includes a body glow exfoliation and aromatic massage, and you should aim for one of the premier rooms for views of the iconic CCTV Tower, rainforest shower and leather chaise longue.

What to pack

  • Hamilton and Hare Cotton-Terry Hooded Robe

  • Etro Ponza Mid-Length Printed Shell Swim Shorts

Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa, Interlaken

  • Photograph courtesy of The Leading Hotels of the World

At the 150-year old Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa in Interlaken, we’d advise you drag your eyes from each other – at least temporarily – to witness the raw power of nature from within its sybaritic confines, gazing up at the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks that surround the Swiss town.

Glittering interiors of stucco, crystal and gold hark back to the belle époque, while the hotel’s Spa Nescens focuses on anti-ageing (not that your lover needs that, remember to say). The treatment menu runs to osteopathy and physio, while there’s a sauna complex, indoor and outdoor pools, and spa rituals for couples. If you want to really impress, book a night in the Bel Air spa suite.

A journey on the Jungfraujoch mountain railway, which tops out at Europe’s highest railway station (3,454m above sea level) is a must. There are views all the way to the Black Forest and it’s an ideal spot to propose, should you be considering such a thing.

In winter the hotel runs a shuttle service to the slopes of the Jungfrau Region ski resort, so pack ski gear and snowboots, as well as smart trousers and proper shoes for dinner in La Terrasse, which does very old-fashioned-elegance and has a strict dress code.

What to pack

  • Cleverly Laundry Striped Cotton-Terry Robe

  • Missoni Mid-Length Printed Swim Shorts

The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, Johannesburg

  • Photograph by Ms Elsa Young, courtesy of The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa

The Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, tucked away in Johannesburg’s leafy suburb of Sandhurst, has 10 acres of gardens, visible from the private glass-cube rooms of the spa. Heaven On Earth couples treatments take place there, and involve an hour’s bathing ritual followed by champagne on the terrace and a dip in the pool. Himalayan salt scrubs and sound therapy are other signatures, and men can book a beard trim, hot-towel shave or face wax.

For real privacy, stay in one of the three standalone villas, which have a lounge and dining room, dedicated butler and chef and their own plunge pools.

Tempting as it is to cocoon yourselves, Jo’burg begs to be explored and is increasingly vibrant, teeming with contemporary artists, craftspeople and musicians. The Saxon is a patron of local artists, and arranges visits to galleries and craft stores if more V-Day gifts are required.

Serious romantics with time on their hands could extend the trip at the company’s Shambala Private Game Reserve, a 2.5-hour drive (or a 45-minute helicopter ride, go on) from Jo’burg, with honeycomb-shaped chalets at its riverside Zulu Camp and safaris to spot the Big Five.

What to pack

  • Slip Embroidered Silk Eye Mask

  • Hampton Sun Hydrating Aloe Continuous Mist, 141g

Ritz, Paris

  • Photograph by Mr Vincent Leroux, courtesy of Ritz Paris

Whether it’s to express adoration during the early days of a new encounter, or to celebrate an anniversary, if the situation calls for proper old-fashioned romance, it has to be Paris. In a city of a thousand charming boltholes, it’s hard to beat the Ritz, which Ms Sophia Loren called “the most romantic hotel in the world”.

The original luxury palace hotel is more glamorous than ever following a major renovation in 2016, and bristles with museum-grade antiques, old masters and silk furnishings. There are so many fabulous stories attached to it, from Mr Ernest Hemingway liberating the bar from the Nazis to Ms Audrey Hepburn filming Love In The Afternoon in the corridors and Mr Marcel Proust calling for iced Ritz beer on his deathbed.

Among the suites are the Imperial, so grand it is an official National Monument of France in its own right, and one named after Ms Coco Chanel, who lived there for 30 years until her death, though the newly refurbished rooms, which have their own roof terrace, are also worth a look.

Ms Chanel’s legacy lives on in the Ritz Club Paris health centre, which houses the world’s first Chanel spa, typically monochrome and achingly smart. The Club also boasts a colossal pool, inspired by ancient Greek and Roman bathhouses.

Valentine’s specials include tea or dinner at the Salon Proust, where it’s obligatory to order a madeleine. Just don’t eat so much you get stuck in the bath with your lover, as King Edward VII did.

What to pack

  • Gucci Short-Length Embroidered Jacquard Swim Shorts

  • Off-White Printed Rubber Slides

The Connaught, London

  • Photograph courtesy of The Connaught

This Mayfair Hotel is one of London’s grandes dames, and one of three – along with Claridge’s and The Berkeley – that make up the Maybourne group. And what a group it is. All are impossibly luxurious and well-appointed. The Connaught has the air of a particularly genteel and not at all down-at-heel country house. Thick carpet in the lobby, grandfather clocks, a snaking central staircase and a generally unhurried air – that sort of thing.

There are 119 rooms, including 30 in a new wing. The most romantic are the suites, which contain lots of the hotel's original Victorian features, such as Thassos marble bathrooms and antique armoires. Before dinner in the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Hélène Darroze or Jean-Georges, we recommend a trip to the Aman Spa on the ground floor. With its black granite swimming pool and an ever-present cloud of scent, it is a little haven in central London. Treatments use Asian and Native American traditions. Osteopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and reflexology are available.

What to pack

  • Pink House Mustique Mid-Length Starfish-Print Swim Shorts

  • Oris Aquis Small Second Date Automatic 45.5mm Stainless Steel Watch

Spa Essentials

  • Japan Best Champagne Set

  • Soho Home Shoreditch House Cotton-Terry Pool Towel

  • Diptyque Brown Amber Scented Candle, 300g

  • TOM FORD BEAUTY Tom Ford For Men Eau de Toilette - Bergamot, Mandarin Zest & Grapefruit Flower, 100ml

  • Oliver Spencer Loungewear Checked Cotton Robe

  • Soho Home Audley Silver-Plated Coffee For One Set