While most visitors to northern Italy beeline for Milan, only recently has neighbouring Turin gained due attention as an alluring hub of authentic Italian charm. With the majestic Alps as a backdrop, the Piedmontese capital is awash with Baroque squares, Art Deco cafes and exquisite palaces that remain from the city’s heyday as the seat of the Savoy royals and first capital of Italy.
After a long morning of awe-inspiring, but ache-inducing sightseeing, I walked just a few minutes from the centre to the day spa QC Termetorino where I’d planned a blissful afternoon of seclusion.
What’s on offer
The Wellness Centre extends over five floors of an historic mansion, Palazzo Abegg, to offer a taste of Turin’s aristocratic life from centuries past. Like all the best aristocratic abodes, its style is a happy marriage of stateliness and eccentric Italian fancy. I loved exploring its higgledy-piggledy layout which took me peering behind a series of closed doors, each one leading to a new, calm-enhancing sanctuary. Thankfully, maps on each floor help anyone that’s a little lost in this spa wonderland.
In the changing area, I could almost hear sighs of relief emanating from tired business women as they exchanged high-heels and suit jackets for fluffy robes and flip-flops. Most stop first in the mansion’s former cellars, given over to watery exploits. Under a vaulted ceiling, I started with a soothing footbath, then moved to a Vichy shower that washed away tension from top to toe. If these don’t send you into a state of bliss, there are four steaming whirlpools along with a discrete Japanese pool that is petite but perfect for couples.
Upstairs, a grand foyer, complete with stuccoed colonnades and marble floors, leads to a bar and restaurant. Most stop here to enjoy a glass of local wine (after all, we are in the region of Barolo) to be sipped slowly in the leafy garden; a gorgeous green swathe dotted in lantern-lit trees with a path between three giant Jacuzzi pools. It’s easy to lose a few hours here, soaking in the bubbles or lounging around on the sunbeds, unaware of the city bustling around you.
A wrought-iron staircase leads to a trail of relaxation rooms, and a veritable feast for the senses. One has huge cushions and lulling classical music, while another is swathed in ethereal woodland-imprinted drapes with beds set under infrared. The skin-nourishing salt room, walled entirely in Himalayan salt, envelopes you in what feels like sea air, while in the ‘magic water’ room you can loll around on warmed beds watching water imagery projected onto the ceiling to hypnotic effect. When stopping for an herbal tea, I uncovered a secret terrace strewn with aromatic herbs, lemon trees and rustic bird-nest beds thatched from branches. It’s a perfect spot to strike a yoga pose or take a moment for meditation.
The sauna complex takes up an entire floor. I enjoyed the bio-sauna, infused with heady herbal scents, but found the Piedmont Symphony sauna a little strange – scenes of the region are played from a gigantic screen covering the back wall. After a 15-minute stint, I emerged silky skinned and imbued with new-found local knowledge.
After many hours of luxuriating from room-to-room, I finally found myself in the top attic – a pearly white, instantly uplifting space where cushioned rocking pods are suspended from the ceiling. I took a seat and soon drifted away.
Tell us about the treatments
Behind a discreet door next to a grand piano lies the spa’s treatment rooms, offering a comprehensive range, from skin-enhancing facials to a sculpting mud body mask. Using the spa’s own product range, treatments can last anything between 25 and 75 minutes to cater for city dwellers needing maximum relief in minimum time. I booked an extra-long massage to soothe my computer-hunched back, and my therapist was quick to make me feel at ease before checking my preferred massage oil and discussing problem areas. Her wonderfully intuitive massage eased the tension gathered in my neck and shoulders.
The casual restaurant serves food throughout the day, beginning with wellness breakfast followed by a buffet lunch and an evening ‘aperitivo’ – a lovely Italian concept of early evening finger food and an alcoholic drink that is said to have originated in Turin. With lots of salad options, eating here is far more health-conscious than most local cuisine but still offers plenty of Italian flavours, with platters of cold cuts and cheese. Brunch takes place at weekends and, three evenings per week, guests can enjoy tasting sessions of local delicacies including chocolate, wine and cheese.
Who would like it
This city spa is down-to-earth and quirky – no wonder it attracts young professionals looking for something to lift the spirits. With its hidden rooms and picturesque pools, it’s also an alluring retreat for starry-eyed couples. The whole place, from the sauna to the restaurant, feels authentically Italian, making it great for visitors wanting a spa experience with a sense of place. Those returning from strenuous Alpine activities can also reap the benefit before flying home.
Come summer, the ‘floating aperitif’ takes place in the gardens around sunset when drinks and food are served al fresco. Hammocks and swings are set up around the pools to help guests make the most of the long balmy evenings.
Find out more. A day pass with a 25-minute massage at QC Terme Torino costs €84.