REJUVINATE IN SPA
Nestled in the Belgian Ardennes, Spa is a paradise for outdoor sports enthusiasts. As the world’s original spa resort, this picturesque town has been a gathering place for Europe’s aristocracy for centuries. Soak up the splendor of the Radisson Blu Balmoral Hotel or stay in the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel, directly linked to the Thermes of Spa. If you fancy trying your luck, Spa is also home to the world’s oldest casino!
People come to Spa first and foremost for its relaxing qualities. Here at Radisson Blu we understand this, and we bring you services that match your wishes. Our two establishments in Spa offer contemporary, clean design, for a calming stay. In our Radisson Blu Balmoral Hotel, your wellbeing lies at the heart of our service. You will enjoy a wonderful view of the valley while you relax in extremely well-appointed rooms. All that's left to do is have a cocktail at the bar or relax in the sauna and have a massage at the Balmoral Wellness Centre. As for the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel, it is ideal for enjoying your stay at the thermal baths. You are given direct access by funicular railway and in the meantime you can of course take advantage of the hotel facilities to sample Belgian specialties or relax in the sauna.
Historic thermal baths
Originally Spa was only the name of a body of water, but the twenty or so springs there quickly made it a town in its own right. Back in ancient times, the Romans discovered them and rich citizens started to go there to relax. In the Middle Ages, Kings such as Henry VIII and Charles II of England and the nobility of the surrounding kingdoms stayed in Spa, giving it an almost cosmopolitan air. In 1781, there were so many Europeans going there to recharge their batteries that Emperor Joseph II called it the "café of Europe". The town never lost this fame, and to this day it draws people from the world over.
Spa lives up to its name. This is where the word referring to thermal baths and wellness facilities originated. Its warm waters are well known all over the world – from everywhere, people come to enjoy the treatments offered at its thermal baths, the oldest in Europe. Having been modernised in recent years, these thermal baths have been given a second lease of life which allows you to have a relaxing and deeply invigorating stay.
All there is to know about Spa
Spa is a town in eastern Belgium, in the heart of the Ardennes. Located 90 minutes' drive from beautiful Brussels, it is also only a short distance from the German border. Aix-la-Chapelle is an hour's drive away, which allows you to go and see the famous palace of Charlemagne very easily. You can get to Spa by plane via the aerodrome in Spa-La-Sauvenière, 5 minutes away from the town centre, or by train. In terms of climate, Spa has rather cool temperatures, with highs of 15°C in August, owing to its altitude. Spa being known for its cultural diversity, French is often spoken as well German, though between themselves the Spa locals speak Liégeois Wallon.
In 1863 Europe's first thermal baths facility opened in Spa, called Les Bains de Spa. These beneficial baths were operational for almost 150 years before being replaced, in 2006, by a new facility, Les Thermes de Spa. Located on the Annette and Lubin hill, you can get to them very easily from the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel, as they are only a direct funicular train ride away. Les Thermes de Spa are one of a kind in the whole world. More than 800 m² of indoor and outdoor pools, all fed by the waters of a spring named Clémentine. In this facility you will be looked after by qualified staff, and will have the chance to switch off from the daily round.
Walks in the Ardennes valley
Spa is located right in the heart of the Ardennes, which makes it a particularly good place to go walking. Setting out from the Radisson Blu Balmoral, you need only walk a few minutes to see the finest landscapes of the blue Ardenne. Take a walk around the wonderful Warfaaz lake. From March to December you will see fishermen there, and you can go out on pedalos too. Lac de la Gileppe, a little further away, is also worth seeing. Lastly, within Spa, you simply must walk the famous circuit in Parc des Sept Heures. It has remained unchanged since the 18th century, and is dotted with very fine 19th century buildings.
To go back to the days when Spa lay at the heart of a Europe which was all about empires and aristocratic diplomats, nothing comes close to a trip to the Spa casino. Located at Place Royale right opposite your Radisson Blu Palace Hotel, the casino is a real historic monument for the town: It offers a theatre, a library, reception rooms and a cultural centre, as well as the gambling saloons for the most intrepid. It is also possible to take a guided tour.
The historic springs
Owing to its long history and its place at the heart of the Europe of the 18th and 19th centuries, Spa has many historic monuments that are not to be missed. Go into the town centre to see the Pouhon Pierre-le-Grand, an iconic monument. Spa was able to become the spa town that it is today thanks to this spring. A stone's throw away, take a look at the visitors' book to see which celebrities have been there to recharge their batteries here before you. Your walk will be punctuated by many more springs and fountains.
The town is accustomed to a high-class clientele, and naturally this brings with it an increasing number of gourmet restaurants. Most of them are in little inns of an authentic but modern style. Around the Radisson Blu Palace Hotel, you will find several establishments in private hotels, which serve very good Belgian specialties combined with German influences. Within the hotel itself, Les Saisons de Spa brasserie offers delicious typically regional cuisine.
Les Francofolies de Spa
Since 1994, Spa's festival Les Francofolies – modelled on that of La Rochelle – celebrates French songs. Having started out small, this festival has now become a real institution in the region and beyond its borders, drawing more than 250 bands over five days. In July each year, artists like Doc Gynéco, Michel Polnareff and Roscoe come for the enjoyment of thousands of festival goers. If you are in Spa during this time, do go along for the very friendly and pleasant atmosphere.
Spa-Francorchamps, celebrating Formula 1
France has the 24 hours of Le Mans, Belgium has the 24 hours of Spa. In July each year, this race draws thousands of motorsport aficionados and others who are simply interested. The track's special features are that it is set into the natural landscape and very close to the spectators. Drivers love the circuit, calling it the "slide of the Ardennes". Spa also hosts the Grand Prix de Belgique.
Festivals all year round
In recent years, the town has developed in terms of culture. A great many festivals have emerged, like the theatre festival in August each year, which stages a number of Belgian and French-language theatre productions. The Spa Tribute Festival, celebrating rock music, takes place in June each year. The Spa Film Festival, in August, is increasingly recognised by the film industry. Here is your chance to take in some culture after having a pleasant time at the thermal baths.
Around thirty minutes from Spa, get acquainted with Liège, the economic capital of Wallonia and also a gastronomic centre. Enjoy its wooded hills and calm atmosphere to stroll in the pretty narrow streets, then stop for a waffle paired with the famous Liège coffee. Don't miss out on a tour of its incredible religious heritage, in particular the Palais des Princes-Évêques, a vestige of the town's ecclesiastical past, and the cathedral of Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Lambert.
Explore the Belgian Ardennes
The Ardennes are well-known all over the world both for their expanse of forests and for their gastronomic offerings: wild boar, smoked salmon, Ardennes pâté and Trappist beers await you in this region which is good walking country. Spa being located in the heart of the Ardennes, it is easy to plan a walk. You will see wild landscapes, where improbably blue rivers meander through forests and green plains stretch as far as the eye can see.
Aix-la-Chapelle, home to the Emperors
Your stay in Spa is your chance to go to Aix-la-Chapelle, formerly home to Emperors. Only about 50 minutes away, Aix-la-Chapelle was where Charlemagne, the first Emperor of the Franks resided. Take a trip back in time by touring the palace, built in the 7th century.
Namur, the medieval city
Namur, an hour's drive from Spa, gives you the opportunity to have a romantic getaway. From the citadel to the Italian cathedral and its Art Deco districts, to the little streets along the Sambre river, Namur has an indescribable charm which quickly steals the visitor's heart. Nominated as a Capital of Culture in 2007, the town is brimming with festivals, like the Namur French-language film festival in September and the poetry festival in June.