Four healing hotels for 2023
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Oslo’s new feel-good destination
Sommerro, in the Norwegian capital, is already one of Scandinavia’s buzziest urban hotels. A landmark 1930s building that its new management (who brought us the city’s other perennially packed address, The Thief, in 2013) has spent half a decade restoring to its former grandeur. Sommerro has 231 rooms and suites, seven restaurants and a plush, velvet-and-gilt 100-seat theatre open to the city. As of November, it also boasts the biggest urban wellness retreat in the Nordic region – thanks in part to the restoration and incorporation of Vestkantbadet, one of Norway’s last remaining public baths.
The retreat comprises 15,000sq ft of sauna, gym, hot and cold bathing, and extends from the subterranean quarters of the original bath house up onto the hotel’s roof, where there’s another heated pool and sauna to accompany the rooftop views. The therapies run the gamut from micro-needling facials and peels to infrared sauna circuits and, of course, massages. We’re particularly keen on the sound of the electric sauna boat excursions into the scenic island-dotted upper reaches of the Oslofjord. sommerrohouse.com, from £225
Retreat to the winelands in South Africa
Nicole Boekhoorn and Fleur Huijskens, partners in business and in life, bonded over their mutual wanderlust. Having travelled the world for years in search of a tranquil, good-energy corner of it to call home, Boekhoorn alighted in South Africa’s Cape Winelands, where she met Huijskens the day after she came upon a historic Cape Dutch estate, now called Sterrekopje. Today, its 11 “sanctuaries” – suites decorated in a hodgepodge of African, Indian, and European textiles and antiques, each with a huge sleeping-sitting room, private terrace and elegant bath (and some with pools) – have been fitted into the various outbuildings scattered across Sterrekopje’s 50 hectares, amid meditation and potager gardens where more than 100 species are cultivated.
Boekhoorn and Huijskens have already hosted women-only retreats, and the estate in general lends itself beautifully to solo female travellers – not least for the indulgent Bath House spa, which opened earlier this year in the estate’s main manor house. Scrubs, massages and facials feature products made locally with botanicals from Sterrekopje’s gardens; energy work often features – the spa team includes reflexologists and hypnotherapists. One-night stays are not the thing there; guests book in for multi-night journeys that also incorporate sound bathing, private yoga and breathwork. sterrekopje.com, two-day all-inclusive journeys from R24,500pp (about £1,185)
In Bali, it takes a village
At the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay – a multi-award-winning stalwart among Bali’s resorts – a new comprehensive wellness destination made its debut last summer; and like the perennially popular Sundara Beach Club here, it’s open to anyone who cares to book in for part or all of the day, from anywhere on the island. The multi-level, multi-space enclave features indoor and outdoor treatment suites. You can have your chakras aligned in a sound- and light-therapy chamber; close yourself away in a private Longevity Garden for 75 minutes to exfoliate yourself with volcanic pumice stones and lounge on an infrared bed shaded by banana trees. Not that old-school pampering gets short shrift here: you can follow up a four-handed gemstone massage with a TDA facial, or a deep-conditioning treatment in the Rossano Ferretti hair salon that’s on site. fourseasons.com, from Rp10,070,000 (about £535)
A wild (swimming) Highland fling
When Iwan and Manuela Wirth opened The Fife Arms in 2018, the calling card for the historic Scottish Highlands inn they had bought and reimagined was its art: provocative, extravagant, a thoroughly contemporary integration of old and new. This spring The Fife Arms is looking outward to the stunning nature of the Highlands’ Royal Deeside for inspiration, with day-long outdoor immersion programmes that incorporate hiking and wild swimming across mountains, moor and peatlands.
Led by ex-staffer Annie Armstrong (her presence predates the Wirths’ here by decades, and she knows the country well), the excursions incorporate guided hikes through the surrounding pine forests, one of which takes in a gorgeous Victorian bridge suspended over a remote waterfall. A picnic lunch, and some breathwork, happen in a Royal lunch hut, before the journey progresses in the afternoon to wild swimming and river crossings, culminating in a spot of tea – or something stronger – along with more meditation and breathwork if it’s desired, next to the fire at the wilderness tent she’s set up on the other side. thefifearms.com, from £434