I must admit, when an afternoon of free time in Antwerp presented itself, my mind wandered to the possibility of a spa experience. It was my second day in the city, fourth in Belgium; and I’d already spent a fair amount of time on walking tours, in museums and exploring (and indulging!) much of what Belgium offers. I couldn’t resist a bit of time unwinding in one of my favorite ways — at a spa.
As I started to research venues for my mid-afternoon relaxation outing, I noted a lack of luxury spa options in the city. But then I found the boutique Hotel Julien with its private spa, a unique venue and really a bit one-of-a-kind for Antwerp.
Hotel Julien feels like a private hideaway in the midst of the city; I walked past the entrance once before realizing it was my destination. Housed in two 16th-century properties, the hotel has been carefully restored to preserve authentic features while still offering a modern décor. It’s also conveniently located in the heart of Antwerp, within walking distance of the shopping hub’s main arteries and designer stores.
Despite its initial, somewhat nondescript appearance and entrance, inside feels like an über chic, exclusive club, with amenities to match. From chauffeured town cars to designer furniture, the property offers plenty to admire. Guestrooms feature custom Egyptian linens, REN shower and bath products, a well-stocked minibar and complimentary WiFi.
The living areas of Hotel Julien welcome guests to socialize and enjoy the homemade cuisine and tempting cocktails in the airy dining room and intimate bar, open to non-hotel guests as well. Inner courtyards offer seating and green spaces, while an open fire in the lounge is more suited to relaxing when there’s a chill in the air. The rooftop terrace offers views of Antwerp’s showpiece, the Cathedral of Our Lady.
Even though I was tempted to linger and browse the many interesting design touches on display, I was all too happy to be ushered downstairs to the building’s historic cellars which now house the spa. Talk about a hideaway: Dimly lit and spacious yet at the same time soothing and warm, The SPA at Hotel Julien really is a hidden gem, and on that drizzly July day in Antwerp, quite private, as I was the only patron. Continuing the attention to design noted in the lobby, feng shui was employed when designing the spa to ensure harmony and balance.
In addition to all the typical spa mainstays — facials, body treatments, massages — The SPA boasts a hammam, sauna, hot stone and ice scrub for complete relaxation.
The SPA uses products from REN Clean Skincare and Intelligent Nutrients. REN, launched in 2000, is now found in stores, pharmacies and spas in more than 50 countries around the world. The company uses groundbreaking product formulations with only 100 percent plant- and mineral-derived actives, free from skin-unfriendly synthetic ingredients, to deliver products that innovate skincare. Intelligent Nutrients’ line of non-toxic, certified organic products are beneficial not only to the spa-goer but also to the environment.
I was scheduled for the 50-minute Inner Balance massage. After being escorted to the spa, I quickly changed into my robe and slippers in the one-person changing room. My female therapist prepped the treatment room, lighting candles to give the cavernous space a calming aura. I snuggled under the covers on the treatment table, closed my eyes and let the masseuse take it from there, bringing me almost an hour of silent escape in the midst of a busy trip and an even busier summer of travel.
The Inner Balance massage focuses fully on de-stressing the body with a combination of Ayurvedic, acupressure and kneading massage techniques. The Destress Express blend by Intelligent Nutrients combines rosemary, cinnamon, black cardamom, mint, chamomile and vanilla to nourish the mind, body and soul.
And nourishing it was. All too soon my massage came to an end, and I was changing and preparing to head back out to the puddle-splashed streets, the emails awaiting on my laptop and a night full of activities. Only now, I was properly relaxed and restored.
As I slipped back out the nondescript entrance and around the corner onto the main street, I felt a little smug, knowing I had found a true respite in Antwerp, all too pleased to let linger the effects from my visit to what felt like my own personal, secret sanctuary.
Korte Nieuwstraat 24
tel 32 3 229 06 00
Navajo Nation is an area of land in the southwestern United States. Covering about 27,000 square miles, the region in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah currently makes up the largest area of land retained by a tribe within the United States. Home to the Navajo people, the area boasts monuments, parks, markets, trails and historic sites.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs and account for nearly 48 percent of the U.S. private sector workforce. And small- and medium-sized businesses outpace all other sectors as one of the fastest-growing in the United States. InterContinental® Hotels Group (IHG) goes above and beyond to create opportunities for this segment with its IHG® Business Edge program, voted Best Small- to Mid-Sized Business Program in Global Traveler’s 2019 GT Tested Reader Survey awards.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Los Angeles Office announced a new initiative for would-be travelers waiting for the green light. The Buy Now, Stay Later: Thailand launch comes on the heels of Thailand’s foreign travel restrictions extending until further notice.
Since 1970, Goway Travel has been committed to providing customized travel experiences for world travelers. Few things are better evidence of this commitment than being awarded the 2019 Trazees award for Favorite Tour Operator. Goway Travel heartily thanks the readers of Trazee Travel for this honor and for their confidence in Goway’s work in creating travel memories that’ll last a lifetime.
IMAGINE SETTING SAIL IN AN EXOTIC, far-flung destination, just you and your family or group of friends aboard a private yacht. The sun warms the deck, a soft breeze dances off the water, and an über-attentive crew caters to your every whim while the personal chef whips up the finest of the local cuisine with all of your culinary preferences top of mind. All the while, the captain navigates the yacht into secluded coves; to pristine, seemingly undiscovered beaches; or even to the hottest spots along the coast for a night out on the town.
A number of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants reopened their doors around the United States. The properties have been hard at work building upon the brand’s already high cleanliness standards, while still retaining the beloved perks that enhance the uniquely Kimpton experience, including coffee hour, yoga mats and more.
Looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own adventure of a lifetime. Volvo allows you to custom order your new automobile tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.