5 Of The World's Most Luxurious Urban Wellness Centres
The tables have turned. Rather than travelling great distances to visit out-of-the-way health farms, a growing number of health enthusiasts are flocking to luxury wellness centres that are opening in major metropolitan hubs around the world.
Shifting the perception that achieving wellbeing involves prolonged solitude at rural retreats, these new holistic destinations are spaces that allow busy urbanites to find sanctuary in their daily lives.
Willow Urban Retreat, Melbourne, Australia
Housed in a beautiful Victorian building in Melbourne’s affluent Armadale neighbourhood, Willow Urban Retreat offers a 360° approach to wellness that combines the best of Eastern and Western healing modalities.
From Ayurvedic therapies, yoga, meditation and sound baths, to more medical approaches to wellness such as remedial massage, osteopathy treatments and naturopathy, Willow promotes a well-rounded healing experience that will bring you back to optimum health in mind, body and spirit.
The space itself is peaceful and inviting, as light tones, earthy textures and minimalist design offer an instant breath of fresh air. Speaking of which—the centre prides itself on its air purifying system, which is said to boost clarity and calm.
Willow also houses a café that serves nourishing, satisfying dishes. The menu is a collaboration between the centre’s naturopath and celebrated local chef Nick Cree, and features plenty of fresh, local produce, including goodies from the centre’s own farm located on the Mornington Peninsula.
South Kensington Club, London, England
London’s South Kensington Club—or SKC as it’s more widely known—caters to the city’s well-heeled wellness fanatics. Housed in a classic Georgian building, its Mediterranean-meets-colonial décor creates a tranquil space for healing.
South Kensington Club comprises a Russian banya, a Turkish hammam with a plunge pool, several relaxation areas and a watsu pool, complete with a watsu master to guide guests through the increasingly popular treatment. It also has three fitness studios, with yoga, pilates, barre, cardio and boxing and personal training sessions on rotation. If you prefer to work out alone, there’s a spacious top floor gym with a conservatory roof that floods the space with natural light.
After working up an appetite, members can enjoy cold-pressed juices and elegant healthy dishes at the club’s Mediterranean restaurant before retiring to the club’s spa, which is arguably one of the best in the city.
(Related: Are Wellness Treatments Such As Onsens and Hammams Still Popular Today?)
Bota Bota, Montreal, Canada
Spread over five stories on a beautifully restored ferryboat, Bota Bota is a floating wellness centre anchored in the St. Lawrence River, where it overlooks Old Montreal’s romantic 17th-century architecture.
Harnessing the Scandinavian healing philosophy of alternating between hot, cold and relaxation, guests at Bota Bota can move through a circuit of saunas, steam rooms and outdoor pools, as well as designated rooms for rest, which are decorated with hanging nests, deck chairs and cosy nooks for reading, meditation or a quick nap.
The on-board spa offers a well-curated series of treatments, including facials that use products by Babor and Eminence; manicures and pedicures; and a variety of massages including Thai, Swedish, Lomi Lomi, Shiatsu and more.
Bota Bota’s restaurant, La Traversée, serves a seasonal menu that focuses on health while showcasing quality ingredients from the region.
The Well, New York City, USA
Overworked New Yorkers have been blessed with the stress-relieving cocoon that is The Well, an 18,000 sqft wellness centre in Manhattan’s Union Square district. Designed by Liubasha Rose of Rose Ink Workshop, the elegant, harmonious centre is a beautiful respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The space comprises a meditation dome, a spa, steam and sauna rooms, a mindful movement studio that hosts daily yoga and other curated fitness classes, a private training gym, a reflexology lounge and a library where The Well hosts events, workshops and weekly emotional support circles.
Helmed by a team of licensed practitioners—whose areas of expertise range from traditional Chinese medicine to sports medicine, vibrational energy and healing—The Well takes the research, guesswork and planning out of wellness by creating customised wellness programmes for its guests to help them achieve their individual goals.
Last but not least, The Well Kitchen + Table offers organic dishes prepared by the team behind loved-by-locals eateries Café Clover and Clover Grocery.
Asaya, Hong Kong
Asaya is a sprawling oasis of lush greenery and calming interiors that incorporate light, water and stone. It comprises a tranquil courtyard garden, a dedicated rest and leisure space known as the Glass House—named for its soaring floor-to-ceiling windows—a fitness studio, elegant treatment suites, men’s and women’s bathhouses, a stylish nail boudoir and a tranquillity lounge with private consultation rooms and facilities for meditation.
Programming at Asaya is built around five pillars: emotional balance; fitness and nutrition; physical therapies; skin health; and community. Its practitioners include experts in movement coaching and bodywork, naturopathy, tailored fitness and expressive arts therapy—to name just a few.
Airy 120-seat restaurant, Asaya Kitchen, is open to the public and serves wholesome, health-conscious cuisine with a focus on locally, responsibly sourced ingredients. Designed by chef Renaud Marin, formerly of Hong Kong’s Cochin and Upper Modern Bistro, the menu is a creative selection of vegetarian and seafood dishes with Mediterranean and Japanese influences.
(Related: Why Fermented Drinks Like Kombucha Provide Health Benefits)