With an autumn chill setting in, the evening commute seems longer than ever. If like us, you're in need of some serious pampering, help is at hand - and it's just across the Channel. Europe is home to some of the world's most luxurious and sophisticated spas; places of sanctuary with beautiful architecture, outstanding views and innovative treatments such as an Amazonian Guava Berry Spa Pedicure. Sound tempting? We've rounded up 20 of Europe's leading spas, from castle retreats to alpine havens. While away the winter blues by clicking on an image, below, to launch the gallery:
Hotel Hohenwart, Schenna, Italy
This beautiful alpine spa hotel was named the best spa in Italy at the European Health & Spa Awards 2012. Highlights include the traditional Tyrolean sauna and the rooftop saltwater pool. Many of the treatments use local ingredients such as rose and grape, and the three relaxation rooms - Dream View, Alpine Glow and Sound of Silence - are spectacular.
Signature treatment: The Full Moon treatment (£42). You'll enjoy a moonlit massage on the hotel's roof terrace.
Barceló Asia Gardens, Costa Blanca, Spain
The Thai spa at this Spanish hotel doesn't do things by halves. All of the therapists were trained at Wat Po, the national centre for the teaching and preservation of traditional Thai medicine, and the spa menu is incredibly diverse, offering everything from Nuad Kon Thong - a pregnancy massage - to traditional four-hand massages.
Signature treatment: Nuad Thao (£80). If you've been hitting the dance floor, this circulation-boosting foot massage will be just what the doctor ordered.
Antara Destination Spa & Resort, Paphos, Cyprus
If you've got some serious cash to splash (rates start at around £2100 per person, per night), head to Cyprus's Antara Destination Spa & Resort., which opens on 14 October. All guests get their very own butler, and the price also includes the services of a private chef and one spa treatment per day. There is a huge range of treatments on offer, and even the pedicures sound glamorous. Amazonian Guava Berry Spa Pedicure, anyone?
Signature treatment: Kati Vasti (£203). This treatment helps to remove blocked energies with warm oils, which are poured constantly onto the lower back area.
Héliopic Sweet & Spa Hotel, Chamonix, France
This French spa hotel opens on 16 December. It will have an indoor swimming pool, sauna, hammam and a tepidarium. The feel will be small and chic, with just three treatment rooms and a roaring fire in the relaxation area. The treatments will use products by Nuxe, the luxury French skincare brand.
Signature treatment: Nuxe back massage (£46). This fragrant massage is the perfect way to unwind after a day on the slopes.
Grand Hotel Oslo, Oslo, Norway
This hotel's Artesia spa is one of Norway's most beautiful, with vast expanses of stripped wood and exposed stonework. The team of therapists includes several physiotherapists and osteopaths and the spa specialises in holistic treatments.
Signature treatment: The Artesia body scrub (£77). A customised scrub and an application of fragrant body oil.
Kempinski The Spa, Kempinski Corvinus, Budapest, Hungary
The treatments on offer at this city centre hotel are inspired by the seasons and are all designed to help restore the body's natural equilibrium. The Winter Fleece wrap, for example, is the perfect winter warmer, while the Summer Face treatment soothes and rejuvenates dehydrated skin.
Signature treatment: The bio-rejuvenating facial (£97). This no-nonsense facial boosts radiance and helps to reduce the signs of ageing.
U-Spa at Barceló La Bobadilla, Andalucía, Spain
You’d be hard pushed to find a more glorious setting than Barceló La Bobadilla’s spa, in the heart of 1,000 acres of olive groves and gently rolling hills in rural Andalucía. It’s a suitably serene space, with majestic columns, candle lanterns and pot plants scattered here and there. Don’t miss the specially designed “sensations shower”, and the hydro massage bath is also worth a visit.
Signature treatment: Olive Oil Peel and Aromatic Massage (From £111, including an overnight stay). Andalucía is the world's largest producer of olive oil and the hotel uses macerated olive oil from the hotel’s own groves to regenerate the skin. The treatment is followed by the massage, featuring a blend of olive oil, almonds and rosemary.
Agua Spa at the Sanderson, London, UK
Stepping into the Sanderson's 10,000 square foot spa feels like walking through a big fluffy, white cloud. Instead of walls, drapes divide the treatment rooms (a nod to the building's previous existence as a curtain showroom) and the changing rooms are enormous. Guests can relax, post-treatment, on meditation beds or in private pods kitted out with televisions.
Signature treatment: The Diamond Experience Body (£175). This heavenly treatment uses diamond powder, micronised iron and wild lavender to restore energy levels.
Lefay Resort Lago di Garda, Gargnano, Italy
This environmentally-friendly spa hotel - it was the first Green Globe-certificated structure in Southern Europe - overlooks Lake Garda. There are five different types of sauna and a salt water lake in which various flotation therapies are carried out. The spa specialises in traditional Chinese medicine alongside facials, massages and thalassotherapy treatments.
Signature treatment: The Thalgo Micro-Elatée Algae Bath (£38). This circulation-boosting treatment will improve radiance and reduce fluid retention.
K Spa at K West Hotel & Spa, London, UK
The K Spa is the perfect place for anyone prone to the winter blues - its Sun Meadow offers a range of light therapies. The Snow Paradise is also worth checking out. Guests can roll in a snowdrift or cover themselves in snow - doing so is believed to work wonders on cellulite. K Spa uses über luxurious Russie Blanche products, and was the first British spa to do so.
Signature treatment: Siberian Petals facial (£85). Pearl Jelly, rose extract and black orchid are just some of the ingredients used in this extravagant facial.
Le Couvent des Minimes spa hotel, Provence, France
This former convent smells as good as it looks, and the lemons, honey, lavender and verbena produced in the aromatic gardens are used in many of the spa's treatments. There are six surprisingly large treatment rooms, along with a caldarium and two saunas.
Signature treatment: The soothing lavender massage (£100). This fragrant treatment is a one-way ticket to the land of nod.
Château St. Gerlach, Valkenburg aan de Geul, Netherlands
The Château St. Gerlach is regarded as one of the finest hotels in the Netherlands and the spa doesn't disappoint. There's a huge, Roman-style swimming pool, while the former cellars have been transformed into deceptively spacious treatment rooms. This spa is the only one in the Benelux region to use Kneipp products, which are used alongside organic French skincare brand Sothys.
Signature treatment: Sothys basic facial (£60). Don't be deceived by the word "basic." Treatment involves a skin cleanse, a peel a mask and a facial massage.
Parkhotel Igls, Innsbruck, Austria
For a scientific approach to wellbeing, head to this Austrian health retreat. The team behind this resort takes a holistic approach based on focused nutrition, targeted exercise and sustainable regeneration. In other words, expect extensive blood testing, beeswax liver compresses, lymph drainage treatments and lectures on nutrition, exercise and the immune system.
Signature treatment: Visitors to Parkhotel Igls sign up for packages, rather than treatments. Week-long treatment programmes start from around £721.
Monastero Santa Rosa, Salerno, Italy
This stunning spa hotel is housed in a former monastery and it ranks as one of Europe's most beautiful buildings, inside and out. The steam room, for example, has a beautiful domed ceiling and the thermal suite comprises a series of interlinked monastic spaces. The treatments use Santa Maria Novella oils, which are all handmade in a tiny factory just outside Florence.
Signature treatment: The Aloe Coulis body wrap (£101). Cool stones are used to massage in soothing manuka honey before aloe gel is poured onto the body. An aloe-based wrap is next, and while the wrap does its work, a chamomile face mask is applied.
Les Airelles Courchevel, Courchevel, France
This slope-side hotel is one of eight French hotels to be awarded "palace" status, a scheme created by the French government to recognise hotels which go beyond five stars. And we can see why: the hotel has its very own Hermès horse-drawn carriage and there's a Fendi boutique. The majority of the spa's treatments incorporate cellular technology, making them ideal for those concerned about the first signs of ageing.
Signature treatment: Swiss Deluxe Anti-Age Cell facial (£245). This youth-boosting facial helps to firm, brighten and lift.
Longevity Wellness Resort, the Algarve, Portugal
The Longevity Wellness Resort is another place which takes a scientific approach to wellbeing. The separate relaxation spa may well offer hot stone massages, facials and wraps but visitors can also sign up for intravenous nutrient therapy, laser resurfacing and biochemical analysis.
Signature treatment: Longevity Wellness specialises in packages, not individual treatments. The two-night Aqua Feeling package (£165) includes an exfoliating aqua-thermal massage, a jet shower experience and an aroma-detox bath.
Pullman Aachen Quellenhof, Aachen, Germany
Everything about this castle-like hotel encourages relaxation. In the light-filled spa there's a Finnish sauna, solarium, ice grotto and health bar, and the pool is spectacular, with illuminated stone statues displayed in stone recesses.
Signature treatment: Rose Petal Day (£203). This indulgent ritual includes a herb oil peel, rose milk bath, a moisturising body mask and a glass of champagne.
Terre Blanche Hôtel Spa Golf Resort, Provence, France
Expect vast expanses of marble, golden mosaics and Grecian-like pillars at this French resort. The spa covers 35,000 square feet and there are fourteen treatment rooms in total, including two couples' suites. The laconium is especially impressive, with refreshing, mint-scented water sprays and baths full of crushed ice.
Signature treatment: The Mineral-Rich Dead Sea Mud body wrap (£80). Who knew being slathered in mud could be so enjoyable?
Dolce La Hulpe, Brussels, Belgium
Jean-Louis Poiroux, the founder of the Dolce La Hulpe hotel's Cinq Mondes spa, spent ten years travelling the world, researching treatments and ingredients, before opening this spa. There are Hansgrohe rain showers, a Duravit vanity area and a huge Turkish bath with four connected scrub rooms. and treatment rooms are named after trees from the forest in which the hotel is located.
Signature treatment: The Crème de Cafe Brazilian ritual (£80). A coffee-infused wrap designed to reduce the appearance of cellulite and boost circulation.
The Dolder Grand, Zurich, Switzerland
The Dolder Grand's spa uses some of the world's best skincare brands, including Kerstin Florian, La Prairie and Amala. Treatments aren't cheap but the spa menu is huge and includes everything from seaweed baths to reflexology. Guests taking a dip in the spa's Jacuzzi pool can enjoy spectacular views over the city.
Signature treatment: Pure Gold Radiance Facial by La Prairie (£172). This treatment's pièce de résistance is a gold-infused serum.