Revitalising retreats - Issue 58 - Magazine | Monocle

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Tokyo Station Hotel


In October the long-awaited refurbishment of the Tokyo Station Marunouchi building was unveiled. Within this iconic landmark is the 150-room Tokyo Station Hotel, which also had a facelift that began in 2006. One of the hotel’s new features is the Spa Tokione, a relaxing space offering treatments (using French Terraké skin products) and an 800 sq m fitness lounge, The Jexer Tokyo, offering state-of-the-art equipment and Jacuzzis. Training kit is available for rent, so leaving your things at home is no excuse for skipping your workout.

Hotel Therme Vals


Tucked away between the pristine mountains of Graubünden, Therme Vals presides over the only thermal springs of this Swiss Alpine canton. Fully owned by the Valser community, Therme Vals is the award-winning work of local architect Peter Zumthor, who built the spa using modern design and traditional materials, such as the locally sourced quartzite stone slabs that make the walls. The hotel offers a full range of spa amenities – including thermal baths – alongside beauty therapies. Go for a soothing dip in the quarry-like pool or pamper yourself with a unique water shiatsu treatment.

Pädaste Manor

Muhu Island

On an island in Estonia, reachable in winter by ice road crossing the Baltic Sea, lies Pädaste Manor. Despite its remote location, this restored manor house (bought and renovated by Dutch hotelier and restaurateur Martin Breuer) is only a three-hour drive from capital Tallinn and attracts a loyal international clientele. “Even though our staff has trained in the best spas around the world, there is no space for global brands here,” says Breuer. Every day, spa manager Marella Kakkum selects local products to make herbal skin treatments alongside an organic goat-milk massage crème. Meanwhile, the Muhu Beer Bath treatment is almost as popular as the wooden seawater hot tub, the latter being the coveted spot for guests to enjoy the glorious sight of the sunset over the Saaremaan coastline.

U Concept


U Concept is a far cry from Dubai’s ubiquitous franchise gyms: there is softened lighting and artwork by young Middle Eastern artists hangs on the walls. “Too many gyms look like hospitals,” says Alex Nazarian, CEO of U Concept, which was designed by Godwin Austen Johnson Architects. “We wanted a space that would put people at ease.” Trainers tailor workouts to suit members’ fitness goals and draw up a personalised weekly nutrition programme. U Fuel, an attached post-workout café, is in development; in the meantime, athletes can enjoy the protein shakes blended at the reception bar. Treatments at the in-house spa are also available.

Casa Drölma

Mexico City

Once inside Casa Drölma, the busy streets of the Roma neighbourhood are rapidly forgotten. Home to Pelzomling, a Buddhist meditation centre run by the Dzogchen community, the Casa also houses the Yoga Hé studio (specialising in ashtanga yoga) and the Delirio tearoom (Monica Patiño’s smaller and more health-oriented adaptation of her popular gourmet shop and restaurant), where the iron and protein-rich spirulina and almond smoothies are in demand. Casa Drölma also offers classes such as Cuban danzón, a rhythmic Latin form of aerobics.

The Island Experience

Ilha Grande, Brazil

Ilha Grande is a government-protected wildlife reserve just off Brazil’s 
Costa Verde. The Island Experience, an adventure-spa programme offering a mix of outdoor activities alongside a detox diet, was set up by nutritionist Adriana Porchat. At this rural resort, sea-kayaking to deserted beaches, hiking and capoeira classes increase in intensity throughout the week, framed by yoga sessions that alternate between traditional ashtanga stances and more dynamic blends.
Breathtaking views of the Atlantic are the backdrop for holistic massages, combining shiatsu, reiki and reflexology with essential oils. The nine-room lodge is made from local eucalyptus and juts out of the jungle onto the Blue Lagoon, where sunset dips await.


Hua Hin, Thailand

If you are on the lookout for a place where you can shed a few kilos in style then spa retreat Chiva-Som, just south of Bangkok, is the place to check in. Building on 15 years of success, this 
luxurious coastal resort has an array of beauty and spa treatments, exercise regimes (which cover everything from yoga to Thai boxing), organic cuisine made from vegetables grown 
in the nearby garden and a team of spa therapists, nutritionists and alternative-heath practitioners on hand. If you decide that you can’t bear to leave there are 58 rooms available for guests, giving you more time to try out the Jacuzzi, flotation pool and kinesis studio.



From a charming bungalow in east Austin, In.gredients offers local produce – grains, spices, household products and even craft beers – in bulk containers rather than packets, so customers can choose how much of each item to take home. There are no plastic bags here: buyers put the products in their own containers, making this one of America’s first waste-free grocery stores. “We see a lot of potential for waste-free businesses around the world,” says Christian Lane, a co-founder. “Integrating ‘precycling’ into consumerist Western societies is critical.”

Wild Life Tailor


It sounds implausible: a shop where you can be fitted for a Southwick suit, try on a Borsalino hat and get a haircut. In Tokyo’s Marunouchi district, there is such a place: Wild Life Tailor Marunouchi. It’s a collaboration between Takashi Kumagai, one of the creative minds behind Jun Co.’s Wild Life Tailor and Adam et Ropé shops, and Hideki Matsunaga of hair salon Abbey. The idea was to stock classic British, American and Japanese menswear brands and to offer classic buzz cuts – hence the Wild Life Tailor Cut Club, a dead ringer for the mid-century American barber shop.

Woki Organic Market


The newest branch of the Woki Market family is a health-food store and restaurant only a minute’s walk from Barcelona’s Plaça Catalunya. The shelves are laden with bio-friendly labels such as local Puigcerver cheeses and Pinord organic wines. In a country where meat is still a cornerstone of the diet, the menu caters to both omnivorous and vegetarian palates, including nutritional burgers and “bio-tapas”. The surrounds hark back to bustling markets of yesteryear: a colourful, intimate chaos with rich aromas. Evening workshops on wellbeing ensure that customers fill their stomachs and baskets while staying healthy.



In a country celebrated for its abundance of croissants and baguettes, gluten-free eatery NoGlu is exceptional for Paris. At the start of each day, Japanese chef Mitsuru Yanase and American pastry chef Jennifer Harting-Lepoutre whip up an ever-changing menu of healthy options for breakfast, lunch and teatime. Located within the Passage des Panoramas — a commercial venue restored by architect Jean-Louis Victor Grisart in the 1830s — NoGlu has an open kitchen and seating is at a communal table. Offerings include natural wines; fish or free-range chicken with grilled vegetables from Joël Thiebault’s farm (whose beautiful legumes are used in top French kitchens); and a club sandwich on the delicious gluten-free bread that 
is baked in-house.

Bread & Circus


“There’s a lot of nonsense in the food industry,” says Amanda Bechara of the Bread & Circus canteen. “People still write menus for a way of eating that people don’t want any more.” With no previous experience in hospitality, Bechara and her partner Daniel Goldstein threw out the rule book, writing out their wholefood, organic principles by instinct instead (among them: unrefined sugars and no coffee). The sunny warehouse café is as natural and unrefined as the cooking, so queue to order the six-hour brown-rice congee, rainy-day toast, grain-based salads, do-it-yourself sandwich boxes or morning breakfast. There’s also a full page of tea options chosen by Amanda – oh, and the giant, “life-altering” spelt cookie made out of white chocolate and hazelnut. “White chocolate might not sound healthy, but there’s no judgement in the menu,” says Bechara. “I wanted it to feel like home.”

Hidden Kitchen


Art historian-turned-caterer Julia Kutas opened this weekday lunch spot in a side street in Vienna’s first district on her 27th birthday in 2010. “When I was studying it was very difficult to 
find quick and healthy food – I wanted to change that,” Kutas says. Platters of vegetarian and vegan salads adorn a gallery-inspired floating counter, with the weekly menu highlighting seasonal dishes such as yellow-carrot carpaccio and baked free-range chicken with chanterelles; many of Kutas’s ingredients come from her garden. Hungry locals get takeaway or perch on upcycled school chairs at timber tables, and there are homemade treats for after; around here, there is a good chance that a quick lunch will turn into an afternoon coffee.



Hidden in a tiny nook of the Bethnal Green district of East London, G&T is a coffee house and organic store worth seeking out. The overwhelming array of goods ranges from farm-fresh produce to bespoke organic items from the likes of Italian brand Sottolestelle. Owners Marco Tassone and Ilaria Giovannini (left) serve a menu of healthy and vegan options, including sandwiches, wraps, gluten- and sugar-free cakes, vegetable soups and fresh fruit juices. All coffees are made using only sustainable, hand-roasted Union brand beans – perfect for 
a soy-milk latte.
204 Cambridge Heath Road, +44 795 635 5145

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