Escape to one of these stand-out European spas for a far-reaching overhaul
As life gets increasingly busier and more demanding, the pressure on precious time-out is at an unprecedented high. We need every hour to count, every day to have purpose - and that's what these spas excel at. Using the most advanced medical techniques, paired sensitively with more holistic therapies, they offer programmes that balance treatment and downtime to perfection. Go for a week and they will deliver meaningful results. Not just on a physical level but emotionally and psychologically too. You'll be sent home feeling better, brighter, bouncier than ever. And who doesn't need that?
Villa Stéphanie, Germany
This is probably the most serious medi-spa offering in Europe, if you compare its size (just 15 rooms, so it's utterly private and discreet) to the capacity of its medical offering - from cardiology and ophthalmology to front-line stem-cell therapy - which is as advanced as you'll find anywhere. The most up-to-speed machines provide hi-tech full-body analysis, and the specifically allocated doctor will tailor a thoroughly bespoke programme, incorporating naturopathic therapies, regular, focused exercise, a calorie-restricted diet and whatever else your heart, body and soul desires. There's a gynaecology team on standby, a kinesiologist, physiotherapists… you can even get your teeth seen to. A full-throttle overhaul in glorious surroundings.
SHA Wellness Clinic, Spain
This is the clever option for those who want to have a highly refined medi-spa experience but stay fairly close to home. And, of course, the Alicante location offers a reliable year-round blast of cheering sunshine too. The medical facility here is world-class - you can address everything from addiction and sleeplessness to smoking and alcohol issues, venture into genetic testing and memory-boosting brain training, as well as adding in more nurturing alternative-health therapies too. And the macrobiotic, Japanese-influenced diet means that, whatever your concern, the food leaves you feeling clean and lean.
Lanserhof Tegernsee, Germany
There is very little the modern masters at this gleaming spa resort can't help with, including problem skin, sluggish digestion, chronic insomnia (there's a specialist sleep laboratory) and crippling arthritis. The innovative LANS Med Concept marries cutting-edge diagnostics, for serious, directed treatment, with more traditional Mayr detox techniques to ensure the very best in gut health. The approach is holistic as well as scientific, which means rather than a clinical white-coats-and-wards experience, you can offset a state-of-the-art medical treatment such as cryotherapy with some restorative yoga or a spot of t'ai chi, and tack on a psychology session too.
VivaMayr Altaussee, Austria
There are a few clinics across Austria offering the famed Mayr cure, but this is the newest and it caused a well-deserved stir when it opened. The setting is tonic itself for any urbanite: a snow-capped-mountain backdrop, an icy lake in front, and the crispest, sweetest, metabolism-quickening, stress-relieving air to breathe. Which is fortunate, as there isn't much to eat. The detox is hardcore but it can be game-changing, rebooting the exhausted, resetting the unbalanced, re-educating the wayward. Bring a boxset and cosy up in winter in between hay poultices and cheek-rosying Nordic walks, or bring your swimsuit for a brisk invigorating dip in summer.
Ayurveda Parkschlösschen, Germany
You don't have to go all the way to India or wear a hair shirt to get the real-deal Ayurvedic experience. Here in the Rhineland there's a surprisingly high-luxe hotel with an authentic proposal: cure-all programmes and therapies based on the ancient principles of Ayurvedic medical healing. It's a fully holistic offering, from the dosha-based food and traditional diagnostic methods (including tongue, eye and pulse examinations) to the synchronous massages and liver cleansing. There is even the option of a 10-day panchakarma, which takes detoxing to the extreme.
This is not what you might expect from a hotel high in the hills above glittering Lake Garda. The food may be Italian (excellent and light) but the spa looks East, majoring in Traditional Chinese Medicine with a list of highly specialised treatments, including meridian stretching, moxibustion and deeply shifting acupuncture, commandeered by the Lefay SPA Scientific Committee. Come here for a five-night anti-ageing programme and not only will your skin be targeted (wrinkles smoothed and elasticity improved), but your nervous system will be rebalanced too, partially by the soothing therapists and partially by that knockout view of the glassy water below.