European Spa visits Helvetia & Bristol in Florence

Drawing on the ancient rituals of Roman bathing, La Spa at Helvetia & Bristol offers guests a calming, tranquil oasis in the centre of the city


La Spa at Helvetia & Bristol Firenze offers guests a calming, tranquil oasis in the centre of the city that draws on the ancient rituals of Roman bathing.

The property, part of the Starhotels Collection in the heart of Florence, Italy, is the result of a multi-year, multi million-pound investment. The refurbishment project added a new hotel wing with rooms designed by Anoushka Hempel and created an elegant, new subterranean spa.

man with beard and bright blue tailored suit smiling at the camera

"La Spa represents unexpected beauty in an historical building in the very centre of Florence. A great added value that made Helvetia & Bristol Firenze a special place to be in the city.”

Federico Versari

General manager, Helvetia & Bristol

Roman bathing 

“We are trying to create a luxury experience of exclusivity inspired by the ancient Roman baths,” says Claudia Cavalli, front desk manager at La Spa at Helvetia & Bristol. Guests will find a space where you can relax and take time out from the city.”

Located on the site of the ancient Capitoline Baths of the Roman city of Florentia, many artifacts were uncovered during the excavations for the spa. These have been artfully left uncovered, drawing guests into underground world of the bathing rituals from ancient times.

“During the restoration period I remember the fear, the joy and the responsibility I felt in discovering those historical ruins,” says Versari. “That moment became an amazing new beginning in the storytelling of our hotel. A piece of the history of the city we are proud to show our guests. The concept of La Spa incorporates perfectly this story and it’s unique in Tuscany.”

swimming pool with a sunset scene in the background
Subterranean spa at Helvetia & Bristol

The spa at Helvetia & Bristol

The 540sqm spa aims to create the experience of a Roman baths in a contemporary setting and guides guests on a journey through warm, hot and cold experiences in sequence. Its clever design is beautifully executed and ensures that guest’s access all of the element in turn, to gain the greatest benefit from the thermal experience.

The journey begins with the calidarium, the hammam and continues with an Aquamotus Vichy shower, emotional showers, a sudatorium, Finnish sauna, frigidarium, tepidarium and a salt room, which rests on a glass floor elevated over the foundations from the medieval era. The use of the Roman names reflects the correspondence of the present-day rooms to those of the original complex.

Quiet contemplation

To conclude guests can enjoy the Lacus Quietis, an area dedicated to the pools. This space has a tea rooms, fireside seating for relaxation and leads to the pool zone backed by an impressive video installation by artist, Felice Limosani, who has created a mesmerising digital landscape that seamlessly merges from the sea to mountains to the sky. This clever use of technology creates a moment of calm and tranquillity, while also filling the space with light and gentle movement.

Created by Florentine artist, Felice Limosani, the programme changes every 3-4 minutes, says Cavalli. “It gives the impression of space, it’s very important. Guests are very surprised by it. They don’t imagine that in the centre of the city there can be a place like this.”

ocean scene projected onto a wall in an underground spa
Digital artwork above the pool at La Spa, Helvetia & Bristol

An exclusive experience

The beautiful use of travertine throughout the space creates a sense of peace, calm and tranquillity as guests are bathed in a honey-coloured, golden glow. The team maintains privacy and ensures a smooth operation by limiting numbers into the spa to around 10-12. People need to book their two-hour slot in advance. Hotel guests and members take preference, but day spa options are available booking spa time and treatments as a package.

La Spa is managed by Snow Group Italy, part of the French multinational that successfully operates more than 60 spas around the world. From spa consultation through to management and daily operations the group works with leading hospitality businesses including Marriott group, Club Med, IHG and Kempinski. Some of its leading spas include Spa La Samaritaine in Paris; Spa Les Granges d’en Haut in Chamonix and Thalasso Deauville in Normandy.

man lifting weights on a bench press
Fitness suite at Helvetia & Bristol in Florence

On the treatment menu

The treatment menu features rituals and experiences from luxury French skincare brand Cinq Mondes and draws inspiration from centuries-old wellness traditions from India, China, Japan, Indonesia and Morocco. Its signature treatments include the Rebirth massage, the Aquamotus La Grande Bellezza ritual and the Relax & Bubbles ritual.

About Starhotels

Starhotels is a market leader in the upscale, luxury hospitality industry. With more than 4,200 rooms, The Group includes 30 hotels in Italy, in addition to London, Paris and New York. Starhotels Collezione is a collection within the group which feature sophisticated design and bespoke services. They can be found in iconic locations with properties in Florence, London, Milan, New York, Paris, Rome, Saturnia, Siena, Trieste, Venice and Vicenza.

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