With the arrival of the warm and sunny weather, it’s finally spa season, (well let’s face it, it’s always spa season in Belgium). We thought it would be a great time to recap 3 of our favourite spas in Belgium.
For those of you who have never been to a Belgian spa, it could be a bit different than what you’re used to back home, especially for you North Americans. If you’re like I was, you probably think of a spa as a place to get a massage, facial or manicure. Belgian spas have all of this but are so much more.
In fact, Belgians have perfected the spa. As they should — after all, they coined the term. Since the 14th century, Europeans have been visiting the thermal pools of the Belgian town, Spa. The term ‘spa’ has come to mean any place having a natural water source that has healthy properties — a place of relaxation and rejuvenation.
Belgian spas are all about the water, so although many other treatments are offered, the most important part of the spa experience is soaking in the pool – be it a Jacuzzi, hot-tub or a refreshing swimming pool.
Thermes de Spa
If you’re completely new to the Belgian spa scene, a great way to get your feet wet is to go straight to the source (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and visit the Thermes de Spa.
The Thermes de spa is a huge modern complex with indoor and outdoor pools, saunas and hammams. It is very family friendly, so you’ll see a lot of families with children on the weekends. It draws an international crowd of all ages and its location on a hilltop, offers a great view of Spa, below.
Our one complaint about the Thermes de Spa is the lack of a decent restaurant on site.
For more details, read our full review of the Thermes de Spa.
The first spa we ever visited in Belgium was Thermae Grimbergen, and it was a real eye-opener in more ways than one. Coming from Canada, we still had the North American version of a spa firmly planted in our heads. We were surprised to find the spa had both a bathing-suit required and a nude side and communal changing rooms. (Puritans beware!)
Thermae Grimbergen has a sort of North African feel to its decor. It is much smaller than Thermes de Spa, but also less crowded and noisy. There are fewer children here and more younger couples and groups of friends.
There is an excellent restaurant and there are plenty of spa packages if you need a full day of pampering.
For more details, read our full review of the Thermae Grimbergen.
My current favourite spa is the Thermae Boetfort, just outside of Brussels. It is run by the same people that run Thermae Grimbergen. It also has a bathing-suit and nude side to the spa, but it is a newer facility and I really like its character.
It’s built inside a old fortified farmhouse and the modern spa facilities contrast beautifully with the period architecture. I particularly love the relaxing pool in the former wine cellar. The spacious yard offers plenty of room for longing in the sun.
The only drawback is the rather small size of the outdoor pool on the bathing-suit side of the spa. The lovely restaurant in the former chateau is a nice trade-off though.
We’re eager to try out some new spas this year (all in the name of research for you dear readers) so if you have any recommendations of great spas in Belgium, please let us now in the comments below or drop us an email.