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Affordable spa breaks in Bucharest 2024

Simon Calder’s Travel

It’s 8pm on a Friday night and I’m looking out over a sea of bodies. Sipping my piña colada, I watch as a man leaps up and down on a podium in time to the bouncy beats that have started to crank up. Coloured lights slowly shift, casting shadows across the vast space, which is peppered with giant palm trees and exotic plants. It’s a lively scene – and it’s unlike any Friday night I’ve ever had before.

This isn’t a nightclub, but Therme, Europe’s biggest spa, and what seems to be the coolest place in Romania to spend your Friday night. While there may be plenty of booze on tap, the atmosphere here is extremely chilled, with rest, relaxation and self-care the order of the day. Doors open as early as 9am and close at midnight, making it the ideal alternative to a night on the tiles. And with recent figures suggesting as many as 39 per cent of young people are teetotal, this titanic temple to holistic health seems like the ultimate place to hang out.

Size is everything at Therme and its vital statistics are impressive. Opened in Bucharest in 2016, this sprawling site covers 44,000 square metres of wellness, leisure and spa space over two floors. It’s home to 10 pools, six dry and four wet saunas, and the largest urban beach in Europe. Over 45 daily activities are included in the access fee, from Aufguss rituals (a Germanic sauna tradition) and themed-sauna experiences to clay mask and scrub rituals.

With seating and tables for drinks, the heated outdoor pool is a pleasant spot to relax (Joanna Whitehead)

The wellness retreat is home to nearly one million plants, making it the biggest botanical garden in Romania and the largest palm plantation in Europe. There are jacuzzis, hydromassage beds, day beds, a lazy river, and a gigantic “salt library” archway standing at more than five metres tall, consisting of 40 tonnes of Himalayan salt, said to purify the air. The Hollywood sauna has a giant 7 x 5 metre screen showing David Attenborough documentaries. You’ll also find 17 water slides, stretching over 1.7 kilometres. Constructed from wood, steel and glass, there’s a demonstrable lack of plastic on show. A 900 square metre glass roof retracts in summer. Everything is extremely clean and new and shiny.

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