Euphoria Retreat offers something distinct, unique and a little bit magical. This healing hotel and spa is set on a hill, in a forest in the rustic town of Mystras in the Peloponnese. Between mountains and olive groves, the views are sublime. But it’s the energy of the land and the sense of history in the location that really add to the experience. Mystras is a UNESCO world heritage site and its just 5 minutes from the city of Sparta.
Created by Marina Efraimoglou, the 45-room hotel at Euphoria Retreat is modern, yet calming with rooms looking across the valley or out to the forest. It is designed to look a little like a monastery and has a soothing calming effect. The rooms feature super comfy beds, walk in shower and lounge chair. The superior rooms and suites are larger with more features and benefit from commanding views of the valley.
Eating is a key priority on any retreat and the Gaia Restaurant at Euphoria Retreat serves fabulous Greek inspired food that is nourishing, hearty and heathy. Expect to see Greek Salad (naturally), fresh fish, delicious salads, heart-warming soups and wonderful desserts. The menu changes to match the seasons and has huge variety, so if you are here for a week or more you will not get bored. Food intolerances and allergies are well catered for too. Dining in the restaurant is at communal tables, which, for solo traveller provides an opportunity to chat and meet new friends. Many retreats seat you at single tables – alone. Communal dining is a wonderful idea and I met some new friends.
If you are following the GI food programme or a detox led programme your daily menu is more guided and focussed, with food predetermined by the nutritionist. That said it is still nutritious, filling and healthy. You even get snacks and smoothies throughout the day.
There is a special energy here. In part from the surroundings, the earth, mountains and forest, but also created by the warm, welcoming and friendly staff. It’s in the Greek nature to be open and welcoming of guests. I have visited this wonderful country 17 times and it’s what makes me return year after year. There’s a gentleness to the approach and a kind an open heart. You will feel this at its most pronounced in the spa.
The spa at Euphoria Retreat
The spa at Euphoria Retreat is a sight to behold, built over three floors it is jaw dropping. The organic design is infused with symbolism throughout. The central stairwell with kneipp bath in the base and moon contrasting with the sky offers a balance of ying and yang. The Sphere Pool is spectacular. Surrounded by hydrotherapy jets and water experiences the base of the pool under the main dome is 3.5 metres deep with piped ocean sounds of waves and dolphins. This leads to an outdoor pool with views of the valley and forest. The large relaxation lounge has similar views as does the outdoor terrace with sun loungers – this is Greece after all.
Back inside the large thermal suite includes heater loungers, circular sauna, steam room, experience showers, ice fountain and cold plunge pool. There’s a large hammam for the Signature Hammam treatments and is designed in the Byzantine style – you MUST book one of these. It’s a beautiful ritual and softer and more gentle than those in Turkey or Morocco and truly cocooning.
During my Reflexology treatment with Kyriaky at Euphoria Retreat I was taken on a journey of discovery. She has healing hands that know. During the session she identified a few personality traits of mine plus revealed a few weak points – my over worked mind and my weak kidneys. Along with this came a very gentle and calm release. A few tears emerged, neither sadness nor joy. Just something letting go. It was bliss.
Signature Euphoria Inspiring Facial
Seated, the therapy begins with a hand refresh using hot towels and a light application of hand cream, the treatment then moves to the treatment bed. In a light filled large room, it was a joy.
The facial starts with a gentle cleansing featuring light touch hand movements. This is followed by micro stimulation using a soft facial brush which is soothing and calming. Then follows an exfoliation massage using fingertip exfoliation pads. Unique and completely different it worked the muscles on the face and helped to remove dead skin cells. Thus follows a beautiful, gentle facial massage using flowing gentle techniques that combine fingertips and the sides and the backs of the therapist’s hands. Covering the whole face, but not overtly stimulating (like most facial massage) it creates a sense of peace and tranquillity – a moment of mindfulness and was expertly done. Using a little-known Greek brand Ariande – the products are simple, straightforward and effective.
The best bits
The signature Hammam Ritual
Relaxing in the tepidarium on the heated loungers. I could have stayed all day
The food in Gaia Restaurant – mixing the best of nourishing healthy, Greek inspired cuisine
Hiking in the woods with RG
Gazing across the valley taking in the sights and sounds of nature
The spa design – a lot of considered thought has gone into the creation of this healing spa
Feeling more balanced and lighter when I left than when I arrived. Perfection
Loved the in-room amenities
The staff welcome, guide and look after you. Priceless.
Room to improve
Although I only had a short visit – some discussion at the beginning and end of my spa journey would have consolidated the goals and set the pathway more clearly
Swapping the plastic individual olive oil and balsamic bottles at meal times to reduce single use plastic.
Opening the gym earlier. 8am is late in my book. I would have been in there at 6.30am if possible.
Retail! I would have loved to see the brands used in the spa treatments on display in the reception area.
The water in the Sphere Pool and the water hydrotherapy jets could have been a touch warmer.
I left Euphoria Retreat calming and more balanced than when I arrived. This was after just two days. It is a gentle, elegant and authentic property where the staff are warm and genuine. You feel truly cared for in their care. Nourishing and nurturing the mind, body and spirit, is a very special place.
The free spirited and adventure seekers aren’t forgotten, there are plenty of activities for the body, including a well-appointed gym and personal trainer on sight. Hiking and other activities are on offer.
Euphoria Retreat is a place to visit if you want a break from the every day, if you have a deeper need or find that you are looking for a little mental and emotional support in life. I will be back.