'Tis the season to get pampered

by Genevieve Northup
Stripes Europe

The preparation and festivities of the holiday season leave little time to wind down. This year, give the gift of pampering to that special someone in your life.

For her

Royal relaxation: She’ll feel like a princess after a day at luxe hotel spas inspired by Europe’s former aristocracy.

The lavish décor of the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris rivals the chambers of royal residences. This regal theme continues with the spa’s 2.5-hour Stroll Through Versailles, said to mimic Marie Antoinette’s rejuvenating regimen.

Guests experience the Roman bathing rituals of 19th century nobility at the Danubius Health Spa Resort Nové Lázně. Decadent dinners in the Royal Restaurant, a refreshing soak in King Edward VII’s ornately tiled tub, and a 45-minute Aphrodite body wrap are among the other perks at this Czech establishment.

Energizing escapes: If she is active 24/7, she may find renewal at a health camp.

The Reads Hotel in Mallorca employs a team to help individuals reach wellness goals. Guests can learn yoga, exercise with personal trainers, master mountain biking, then recover in the Vespasian Spa’s saunas and pools.

Themed therapies: Why not combine her need for relaxation with her love of wine or chocolate? Grapes benefit skin by increasing moisture, exfoliating dead cells and providing protective antioxidants. Much like grapes, dark chocolate moisturizes, combats UV rays and improves skin tone; plus, it’s great for hair.

Located by the oldest winery in Spain’s Basque Country, the Spa Vinothérapie Caudalíe at Hotel Marques de Riscal relies on the fruit of the land for body masks and baths. “Vinotherapists” also use fresh grape halves to smooth nails during manicures.

In Italy, the Adler Thermae Toscana spoils clients with therapies using Tuscan grapes. A Sangiovese grape facial, Brunello wine body pack, grapeseed peel and vino wash are just a few of the available services.

For the chocoholic in your life, there’s a chocolate scrub at Champneys Day Spas (several U.K. locations) or the Cocoa Rub & Wrap at London’s Savana Urban Spa, which includes a cocoa butter lather, chocolate facial and mug of drinking chocolate.

For him

Solace & sports: He’ll enjoy the great outdoors, favorite hobbies and tranquility at an active retreat.

On the Greek island of Crete, the Porto Elounda Golf Spa Resort has a nine-hole golf course and a PADI-certified dive program. The award-winning Six Senses Spa offers saunas, baths, massages, acupuncture, beauty treatments and fitness coaching.

The auto-free area of South Tyrol, Italy provides an ideal place for the peaceful Vigilius Mountain Resort. Adventurers have the opportunity to try hiking, Nordic walking, mountain biking and archery in summer or snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding in winter. The men’s spa package features a massage, skin care and water therapy.

During a stay at the Spa Hotel Colossae Thermal, guests can swim, play tennis and have down time in the Turkish bath. But the highlight of this getaway in western Turkey is a plunge in the nearby Pamukkale Hot Springs, famous natural mineral pools formed in a group of limestone cavities.

Trendy trims: Whether he needs a close shave or a stylish cut, he’ll be in good hands at modern European barbershops.

After avoiding trouble in Amsterdam, he deserves a caffeine jolt and quality shave at Cut Throat Barber & Coffee. The business even sells Damn Good Soap Company products for better shaving results at home.

The fashion-forward fellow will love the Spa & Barber at the high-end British brand Alfred Dunhill’s signature store in London. Services include traditional shaves, waxing, nail grooming, facials and massages, followed by cognac and cigars. 

Beer breaks: Overconsumption may lead to a bigger belly, poor decision-making or nasty hangovers, but when used responsibly, beer makes for a hydrating body wash.

Beer lovers guzzle brews while taking a dip in the foamy stuff at several Beer Spa BBB Czech Republic locations. In Germany, the Landhotel Kummerower Hof hosts an affordable beer spa weekend, which covers room, half board, three beers, a liqueur tasting, a tour of the monastery brewery and, of course, 80 minutes in a beer-filled tub.

For couples

Romance renewed: Reconnect while rejuvenating at these destinations, where privacy is a priority.

The Gstaad Palace Switzerland has a two-hour, two-person sojourn in the Turkish hamman encompassing seven procedures: foot soaks, soap scrubs, massages and more. Couples can also rent the Private Spa Suite to indulge in the Jacuzzi, steam room and services designed for pairs.

At Schloss Elmau, near Garmisch, Germany, couples have the privilege of reserving the top floor of the 32,000-foot Badehaus Spa. VIPs gain exclusive access to the rooftop lap pool, sauna and steam bath, and receive appetizers, fruit, champagne and 80-minute massages. Private Haman sessions are available, too.

Lower-cost, last-minute luxury: Short on time or funds? Find inexpensive lodging in a spa town and spend a few hours at the local thermal baths.

German cities — such as Baden-Baden, (Bad) Aachen and Wiesbaden — have thermal spa facilities. The largest is Therme Erding in Erding, boasting more than 15,000 square feet of water facilities.

The Hungarian capital of Budapest is home to 11 bathing centers. Visitors to Rudas Thermal Bath can have a late-night soak on weekend evenings. And the renowned Gellért Thermal Bath has saunas, pools and treatments.

For dogs

Today, professional primping is possible for man’s best friend. You’ll be envious after your companion’s visit to “paw”-some pet-friendly spots.

Pampering pooches: From grooming and training to massages and mud baths, dogs are in heaven at London’s Pet Spa

Four-legged foodies: Even the pickiest puppy appreciates the gourmet meals available online or in store at Berlin’s Pets Deli. The Canine Cookie Company ships “pupcorn,” “dog-nuts” and other homemade snacks around the globe.     

May these exciting options inspire you to spoil those you love. No matter what your budget, remember that a little pampering goes a long way.

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