From soothing swims in Athens to sleep-easy stays in South Africa, our restful agenda comprises escapes and retreats to help you slow down, unwind and live in the moment.
SPA: Bathhouse: This renovated soda factory in Williamsburg provides a subterranean sanctuary from the New York bustle, offering treatments such as scrubs and wraps in cedarwood saunas, steam rooms and thermal pools. The street-level restaurant serves northern and eastern European food, such as steak with mustard and borscht.
SHOP: Le Baigneur: “After four years working in restaurants I felt like doing something with my hands,” says Fabien Meaudre, who founded Le Baigneur in 2012. The core of his business is soap but you’ll also find body and face oils – most of them made with natural ingredients in Meaudre's Montreuil workshop. Every item is beautifully packaged in wrapping designed by city agency Atelier Muesli.
SWIM: Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall: Opened in 1928, Yrjönkatu has been a Helsinki favourite ever since as a relaxing spot for a few leisurely laps. There’s a 25m pool and seven saunas (we’re in Finland, after all) in which to wind down afterwards.
ESCAPE: Yoyogi Park: Escape Tokyo’s hectic streets at Yoyogi Park in Shibuya-ku. A meeting point for people from all walks of life, the park can get busy but the tree-studded northern reaches beyond the fountain offer expansive terrain for walking and jogging.
GYM: The Shelter: Founded by Ben Mills, this minimalist space offers boxing and spin classes alongside infrared saunas and ice baths. And the juice bar in the courtyard brings all the pedallers and boxers together. “We’re here to inspire a healthier community by connecting people,” says Mills.
STAY: Ellerman House: Set in a picturesque Cape Edwardian-style mansion in Bantry Bay, Ellerman House, known for its art collection and vast wine cellar, has teamed up with wellness coach Harry Jameson to offer personalised retreats. Any of the hotel’s 13 guest rooms can be adapted on request to encourage better sleep, which should enhance those hikes up Table Mountain and yoga sessions.
VISIT: San Antonio: Perceptions of this Texan city are evolving as rapidly as its cultural and culinary scenes – and American Airlines’ direct flights from New York make getting there easy. Famed for its 25km river walk and Alamo fort, San Antonio also has a buzzing downtown. Pop into reworked brewery Pearl, Mexican restaurant Mixtli and modern gent’s shop The Sporting District. Don’t miss the new San Pedro Creek Culture Park, a great alternative excursion.
atpearl.com; restaurantmixtli.com; sportingdistrict.com; spcculturepark.com
SERVICE: Herr: Sip a single malt, listen to jazz and have your shoes shined while enjoying a haircut or hot-towel facial massage. Opened in 2013, Herr’s Hannam-dong branch has a 1920s-style interior – all exposed-brick walls, wooden floors and black-leather chairs. Grooming products include JS Sloane and Layrite.
STAY: Yasuragi: Just 30 minutes from Stockholm city centre, this Yoji Kasajima-designed hotel and onsen has 191 rooms with views of the archipelago. Patrons at Yasuragi must don a yukata (cotton gown) and can either stay in a traditional room with tatami mats (the suites have their own hot springs) or stop by the baths and enjoy a charcoal massage.
STAY: The Krane: Atop a former working crane in an industrial harbour on the outskirts of the Danish capital, The Krane is a one-room hotel. The jet-black accommodation has a lounge, dining area and outdoor deck, as well as sea views. Just below is a glass-fronted spa, where local brand Amazing Space offers steams and massages.
SWIM: Waikiki Beach Services: Since the early 1900s, many Hawaiian surfers have made a living teaching tourists how to ride the waves of Waikiki. These “beach boys” are known for their easy-going demeanour and knowledge of swells. Sign up for lessons with the crew from Waikiki Beach Services in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and you’ll be learning from the people who taught the world to surf.
STAY: Borgo Egnazia: Borgo Egnazia, a resort in Fasano, Italy, is celebrating its 10th birthday by opening a Blue Zones retreat. This wellness concept, based on research from countries with a high life expectancy, is a little different, incorporating natural movement, such as folkdance, and remaining open to the allure of chocolate and wine. We can get with that.
VISIT: Musée de la Palmeraie: Founded in 2011 by garden designer, ethnobotanist and perfumer Abderrazzak Benchaâbane, Musée de la Palmeraie is a world away from Marrakech’s hectic medina. Head straight to the sculpture-dotted cactus garden (our favourite part); it has about 40 varieties of cacti from Morocco, South Africa and the Americas.
SWIM: Vouliagmeni Lake: These crystal-clear waters, served by both the sea and thermal springs, maintain a year-round temperature of 22c and underwater life flourishes to the point of distraction. Entrance to the Athenian lake does come at a cost but can be combined with lunch or dinner on the wooden deck overlooking the water. Later, choose between aqua aerobics, hiking or snorkelling.
visit: Auckland: Need an Auckland itinerary? Well, stay at the Cordis and grab breakfast at Williams Eatery near the waterfront. After taking a dip in the Parnell Baths, freshen up at I’m Not a Barber and then pop into T White’s Bikes (Auckland has a new network of bicycle lanes) or design gallery Objectspace. Then dine at Pasture. Job done.
sfg cordishotels.com; williamseatery. co.nz; clmnz.co.nz; imnotabarber.co.nz; t-whites-bikes.myshopify.com; objectspace.org.nz; pastureakl.com