Holidays come in all shapes and sizes - from hiking in the Apennines to a cheap city break to Porto - but for some people, a vacation is for relaxing. And what better way to relax than taking yourself on a destination spa break?
If your future travel plans involve being as relaxed as possible besides a pool and a stone's throw away from a sauna, the travel finance experts at money.co.uk have analysed the data to reveal the cities in the UK, EU and the USA with the most spas per kilometre².
If you want to spread the cost of your luxury spa break, compare 0% purchase credit card to find the best deal for you.
A popular choice of vacation for many travel enthusiasts around the world, our travel finance experts were curious to discover the best cities to visit for those in need of checking into a spa for a couple of days of tranquillity.
By analysing TripAdvisor data for spa and wellness listings in nearly every city in the UK, EU, and the USA, and comparing this to the number of kilometres2 the city covers, the research reveals the destinations where visitors can be spoiled for choice by spa options.
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This found the French capital Paris was the place to be if you want the ultimate spa break with 965 spas on offer within its 9.19 km². The top-rated spa in the city is Molitor Spa by Clarins, where prices start at £250 (€290) for a day pass, where you will get an hour-long treatment of your choice (facial, back massage, full-body treatment etc) followed by a full day of relaxation where you can take advantage of the 5-star facilities; including two swimming pools, a fitness room, sauna and hammam.
If you are looking for a trip that will live rent-free in your mind for the rest of your life, Molitor Spa by Clarins is the one for you. It occupies 1672m² of Parisian land, thanks to the summer and winter pools, thirteen spacious treatment rooms, and two private suites offering a full menu of facials, massages, and body treatments, as well as several exclusive Clarins x Molitor rituals. This includes a two-hour facial and hand and foot treatment using the Révérence de Bastien product line, or maybe you’d prefer a half-day spent getting a bouncy blowout at the on-site Shu Uemura Art of Hair salon; or for the athletic types, you can get a personalised training session followed by a body scrub and a muscle-relaxing massage. This peaceful haven is a breath of fresh air when you want to escape the busy city life.
Barcelona comes in second place with nearly six spas per kilometre of the city. The Spanish city has 605 spas in total with its top-rated venue on TripAdvisor being Confort Centre Quiromassatge. Located near Plaza España and not too far from the beach, it is the top-rated massage centre in Barcelona. Starting from £36 (€42) for a forty-five-minute aromatherapy massage using essential oils, which goes up to £62 (€72) for a ninety-minute treatment, the venue offers quality service at a reasonable price.
If you don’t fancy a hands-on experience, there is also a pool available to offer guests a hydromassage to make them feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Third on the list is Brussels, as the Belgium city has 2.2 spas per km². The top-rated spa in this European city is unique; called Bath & Barley and costing £85 (€99), you get full access to rooms located in a centuries-old, traditional Belgium cellar, where you will find two handmade oak tubs letting you soak in beer-fermented water, and a large straw bed for relaxing after bathing in beer.
With 83 spas in total, Athens is fourth on the list, offering visitors 2.1 spas per km². The top-rated venue will set you back £30 (€35) for 60 minutes of pure bliss in the hammam where you can simply lay back and relax.
There are only five destinations on the top 20 list that are outside of Europe; including, Vancouver in Canada in fifth, Hawaii’s Honolulu in 13th, New York City in 15th with one spa for every km², followed by Miami, and San Francisco is 18th.
|Rank||City||Number of Spas||km² of City||No. spas per km²||Top-rated spa - starting price|
|15||New York City, New York||784||784||1||£130|
|18||San Francisco, California||113||121||0.93||£57|
As European cities dominated the top 20 global list, the personal finance experts also looked at the best locations for a spa break in the UK. The research discovered that Chicester (on the southeast coast of England) is the UK location offering more spas than kilometres2 (1.19 per km²), making it a go-to spot for those searching for a tranquil trip closer to home.
If the quaintness of Chicester appeals to you for your next trip, then be sure to check out Chichester HarSPA, which is the top-rated venue in the city. For £95 you can indulge in their Revive Spa Afternoon; starting at 1 pm, you can spend the afternoon with your feet up in the spa with full use of the facilities before a 45-minute treatment and a full afternoon tea.
Other east and south-east England cities feature on the top 10 list; following Chichester is Norwich (0.82 spas per km²), Brighton is fourth on the list, London is fifth with 0.56 spas per km², followed by Portsmouth in sixth.
The rest of the top 10 is made up of northern cities; Leeds is seventh, then Manchester and then Edinburgh. Glasgow completes the top 10 list with 0.38 spas per km² and with a fairly reasonable starting price of £75 to attend The Gin Spa. For that price, you receive a full consultation, any 30-minute treatment of your choice, afternoon tea with a glass of prosecco as well as a gin and tonic from their Fever-Tree drinks trolley.
|Rank||City||Number of spas||km² of city||No. spas per km²||Top Rated Spa - Starting Price|
Vancouver is the city with the most spas comparable to its size in America and Canada; it occupies 115 kilometres2 and has 231 spas. TripAdvisor’s top-rated spa in this city is CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La Vancouver, which comes with a starting cost of £131 ($160) for a 45-minute neck and back tension relief massage. After your treatment, it is worth taking in the surroundings of this stunning five-star hotel.
Hawaii’s Honolulu is second with 1.11 spas per km², followed by New York City which is a huge 784 km² and also has a satisfying 784 spas available for relaxation enthusiasts. The best spa in the Big Apple is AIRE Ancient Baths New York, which comes with a starting price of £130 ($156.75), situated in a nineteenth-century industrial building and lit by candlelight, it is possibly the most romantic spa in the list. AIRE Ancient Baths New York has been open to spa seekers in the states for over a decade, but in 2021 they branched out to London in an 18th-century townhouse where JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan, once lived.
Miami, Florida is fourth and is closely followed by San Francisco both with just under one spa per km². Though many people may think of Los Angeles as the city of wellness and self-care, it ranks just outside of the top 10 in eleventh place, as the Californian city has 0.37 spas for every kilometre.. Beating LA to feature on the top 10 list is Las Vegas in sixth, Chicago in seventh, and Washington DC in eighth place. The Spa at Hotel Washington is Washington DC’s top-rated spa, where prices start at £130 ($160), which will get you a 50-minute aromatherapy massage in the very hotel that has welcomed A-Listers (like Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe) since it opened its doors in 1917.
Toronto is ninth on the list with 362 spas within the 630 km² of the city, followed by Florida’s Orlando where those on a spa-hopping holiday can find 0.43 spas per km².
|Rank||City||Number of spas||km² of city||No. spas per km²||Top Rated Spa - Starting Price|
|3||New York City, New York||784||784||1||£130|
|5||San Francisco, California||113||121||0.93||£57|
|6||Las Vegas, Nevada||220||352||0.63||£98|
|11||Los Angeles, California||477||1,299||0.37||£118|
Of the 160 cities involved in the study, the researchers were also curious to discover the most popular treatments at the top-rated spas. Out of 160 venues analysed, 84 of them come out on top for their quality massages.
The cheapest massage on offer is at Masajes SVQ in Seville, Spain, where you can get a 30-minute soft relaxing massage for just £17, followed by 5 Elements Balinese Day Spa in Budapest where a 30-minute Balinese Oil Massage costs just over £18, and then Kraków where you will pay £18.35 for a 30-minute head massage.
Contrastingly, if you have the cash to splash, then check yourself into The Spa at Mandarin Oriental in Boston, Massachusetts. Home to the most expensive treatment in the study, The Spa at Mandarin Oriental charges £212 ($260) for 1 hour 20 minute Lava Stone Therapy massage (a hot stone massage) on Monday - Thursday and the price hikes up slightly on the weekend. The treatment is described by their in-house therapist as “inspired by traditional Native American practices, this relaxing massage uses heated stones to generate energy and create a sense of balance. It also helps relieve deep-seated muscle tension.”1
Joint-second most expensive massages on offer - costing £150 ($185) - are in The Fairmont Austin, where 50-minute personalised full body massage and The Trump Spa at Doral in Miami, Florida, where the top-rated treatment is a 60-minute deep tissue massage designed to release deep-rooted tension and stress with a firm touch and focused pressure.
Interestingly, only 11 out of the 160 venues analysed were rated highly for facials, and if you are more focussed on your skincare and keeping your complexion looking fresh and dewy, then a facial might be of more interest than a full body massage. If so, you can get a 25-minute Elemis Biotec 2.0 facial for £48 at Bannatyne Health Club and Spa in Durham, England. The price does go up if you would prefer a 55-minute treatment, but £48 is a reasonable starting point considering it uses quality products and new technology. It uses ultrasonic peel technology and brightening enzymes to give your skin a thorough cleanse and remove visible pollutants, makeup and the daily build-up of grime. It promises to leave your skin looking super-healthy, more radiant and glowing.
The Welsh capital, Cardiff, is the second-cheapest place to get a facial as costs start at £50 at Aurora. For that cost, you can choose between a dermaplaning facial, which removes the top layer of dead skin to reveal a glowing complexion or glycolic chemical skin peel that dissolves the bonds that hold dull, dead skin cells together, so they gently shed, revealing brighter, smoother skin underneath.
Third on the list is Blue Water Spa in Raleigh, North Carolina, where an express peel facial costs £56 ($69).
However, some facials are more expensive; including, The Spa at Hotel 1000 in Seattle, Washington State where prices start at £122 ($150) for a 50-minute calming facial. Here you can choose whether you want the facial to calm, lift or illuminate your complexion, to ensure you get the best value for money.
Second-most expensive is RETREAT Rotterdam where the Holistic Doctor Jackson Facial starts from £86. Using the natural skincare produced by Doctor Jackson, your skin will be pumped full of the good stuff and will be super glowy.
Nine of the venues on the list were top-rated for their floatation therapy, which is partly due to this being a new form of treatment that has only seen a growing interest in the last couple of years. If you want your first time to be particularly memorable, then it would be worth looking at L'Oasis Meiso - Le Centre de Flottaison, which is the most expensive on the list.
Based in Lyon, France, L'Oasis Meiso - Le Centre de Flottaison charges £137 for a 60-minute float in sensory isolation where you can absorb all of the benefits, which include relaxation, restoration and optimisation of body and mind.
However, if you want to keep spending at a minimum, then you can try the cheaper options; including, A Place To Float in Indianapolis costing £53 ($65), Blissful Relaxation Float Louisville & Spa Center in Louisville costing £57 ($70), and Float Nashville where an hour-long float costs £61 ($75).
Six of the 160 venues were rated most highly for their body scrub treatments. Adam and Eve Turkish Bath in Liverpool, England is the cheapest place for a body scrub treatment costing £49, but for this, you get a lot more than just the scrub; including, a sauna, foam wash, and a massage following the body scrub.
Whilst most of the scrub treatments are under £100, the top three most expensive all surpass that; The Bath House - Banya in London charges £145 to use Banya facilities for up to 3 hours, plus you get a parenie ritual and a scrub treatment of your choice from hydrating honey to an exfoliating coffee scrub.
Also amongst the most expensive is AIRE Ancient Baths New York, where the Ultimate Bath Experience costs £128 ($156.75) and includes a DIY hydrating and exfoliating aloe vera body scrub, soothing aloe vera and cucumber sheet face mask, a revitalising aloe vera shot, and 90 minutes in the renowned baths.
If this has you desperate to book a spa retreat, remember that you can spread the costs of your trip with a 0% purchase credit card.
A spa break is essentially a mini holiday or an overnight stay that allows you to enjoy the nearby spa facilities. This can be an overnight stay at a spa hotel or an even a longer stay within a preferred location and travelling to different spa venues throughout a couple of days and beyond. It’s an opportunity for those who enjoy travel but also want to relax and soothe the tensions of everyday life.
Loose and comfortable clothes - anything that is easy to take on and off so you can easily head to the pool or into treatment. Also worth noting that most people keep things fairly casual on a spa retreat and leisurewear is worn by most
Swimwear - one is enough for a one-night stay, but if you are having a more extended break then it may be worth packing a couple more swimming costumes
An overnight bag - including any grooming appliances, phone chargers, change of clothes etc
Clothes for the evening - for an evening meal you might want to ditch the leisurewear and dress up a little bit more
If you are staying in a hotel then you don’t have to worry about taking toiletries or towels but be sure to pack your favourite skincare and makeup!
Depending on the spa, there will be different treatments on offer. So you must do your research to ensure that you find a spa that specialises in the treatment you are looking for. There are various kinds of massage - Thai, Swedish, hot stone, deep tissue, relaxing - which are all designed to target specific things. For example, a Swedish massage is thought to be more thorough on the muscles than a relaxing massage that is designed to simply put you at ease.
There are also many kinds of facials, you can choose facials that are designed to target dull-looking complexions, dehydration, or even premature ageing. You can also look to bring tech into the game and book an LED facial to get the benefits of blue or red light therapy. There are also medical-grade skin peels available, but it is important to discuss the best option for you with your consultant.
There is no right or wrong time to go on a spa break now that COVID 19 restrictions have eased in most countries around the globe. If you are planning on booking into a spa that offers indoor and outdoor facilities then the best time to go will be depending on the weather and ideally during the period with the least amount of rainfall. Luckily, most spas are open every day of the week, meaning you can take your relaxing retreat whenever it suits you best. Be mindful that it is likely to be cheaper if you opt for a mid-week getaway rather than the weekend.
Make sure you book a spa break through an authorised website. There are many websites (such as Spa Breaks and Spa Seekers) that allow you to select your preferred location, your budget and the treatment you want and then compare the results.
If you see a deal that seems too good to be true, ensure to check that it is an authorised website to prevent being scammed.
Whether you are looking for affordable city break or a holiday with guaranteed sunshine, follow our expert's tips in the guides below, to ensure you get the most out of your travel experience.
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Using TripAdvisor as a source, we searched 'spas' for every major UK, EU, US and Canadian city. By selecting 'all listings' we sourced the number of spas in each city. This was then compared with the size of each location to reveal the number of spas per meter2.
TripAdvisor was also used to source the most popular spa in each location by looking at the listing with the most reviews and mentions. The cost of a spa day at the most popular spa was sourced via their official website. Their official websites are also the source of specific treatments they offer and their cost.
Cities and their size were sourced from worldpopulationreview.com
Cities with less than 10 spas were discounted from the study.
All data correct June 2022.
James has spent the past 15 years writing and editing personal finance news, specialising in consumer rights, pensions, insurance, property and investments - picking up a series of awards for his journalism along the way.