Nestled in the pine-clad hills of the Peloponnese peninsula, Euphoria Retreat delivers world-class spa therapies amid a mythical landscape. This holistic spa hotel is within walking distance of the fortified town of Mystras, the ruined second city of the Byzantine Empire. Providing a link with old-world Greece, these cultural roots have been woven into the hotel’s fabric, with domed ceilings, ancient patterns and rich, earthy colours adding a classical finish to the otherwise modern design scheme. This marriage of old and new is in communion with the spa itself, spread over four floors and staffed by a team of experts from dozens of fields. Drawing on Hellenic, Chinese and modern medicine, they provide a top-to-tail treatment program designed to reunite you with your very best self.
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One 60-minute couple’s Signature Euphoria Byzantine hammam ritual in the spa
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £291.85 (€343), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.00 per room per night prior to arrival.
Rates include breakfast, access to the spa and a programme of daily activities and workshops.
In keeping with the hotel’s wellness philosophy, there isn’t much in the way of alcohol on offer, although beer and wine are available at dinner on request. To encourage a serene, tech-free atmosphere, there’s no WiFi in the lounge areas and you’ll be asked to come to meals without your phone.
At the hotel
Gym, free WiFi, laundry. In rooms: HD TV; minibar; tea and coffee kit; yoga mat; Signature Euphoria bath products.
Our favourite rooms
All of the rooms exude warmth and serenity, designed to go hand in hand with the hotel’s holistic spirit. Bright and modern, they’re finished with solid oak furniture, rich fabrics and earthy-toned artwork, referencing styles that would have been popular in Mystras in its Byzantine heyday. We’re particularly taken with the junior suites, each of which has a raised seating area and private terrace overlooking the citrus groves. If you’re happy to splash out, book the Mystras Suite (it’s the owner’s favourite).
Inspired by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the cavernous heated indoor pool has a domed ceiling and smooth, curving walls typical of Byzantine architecture. At its centre is a swim-in sphere designed to feel like a cocoon from the outside world, complete with a zen-inspiring soundtrack of soft music and marine-life sounds. A swim-through archway leads to the vast outdoor pool, which has sweeping views across the valley.
The spa is the hotel’s keystone, drawing on the philosophy and medicine of ancient Greece and China as well as the most modern, science-led thought. Spanning four floors, it includes a Byzantine hammam, tepidarium, Finnish sauna, hot tub, salt therapy room, men’s and women’s infrared saunas, sensory deprivation pool, a yoga hall and a meditation room and labyrinth. The many treatment rooms are manned by a small army of expert therapists, offering a vast range of massages, skin treatments, acupuncture and healing therapies. You can also book pre-arranged programmes that range from two days to three weeks; some are focused on yoga or relaxation, others on detoxing and metabolic health. There's also a state-of-the-art gym for more fitness-focused stays. The spa is for guests 16-and-up only.
Bring your trail shoes for the hike up Mount Taygetus and clambering around the rocky ruins of Mystras.
All of the public areas are wheelchair accessible and there are two adapted rooms. The indoor pool has wheelchair access, too.
Over-14s are welcome, but they’ll need to stay with an adult on a pre-booked wellness program that lasts the duration of their stay. Children over 16 will need the permission of their parents to access the spa or have treatments.
Most of the tables are communal, so it’s worth requesting one of the couples’ tables is you want a bit more privacy.
There’s no dress code – go for something light and comfortable.
Taking its name from the Greek word for earth, Gaia champions the dishes of the Peloponnese countryside, some of which have been handed down all the way from ancient Greece. The majority of dishes are completely organic, with the produce coming from local suppliers – many of them on first name terms with the kitchen restaurant team – or the hotel’s own vegetable garden. As you’d expect from a spa hotel, the options are healthy, balanced and nutritious, but are still packed with classic Greek flavours. In others words, everything on the menu is good for you, but the food packs enough flavour that you wouldn't necessarily know it.
There’s a small bar in the lobby serving homemade herbal teas, smoothies and a few alcoholic options – beer, wine and light cocktails made with local spirits.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 10.30am; lunch from 1.30pm to 4pm; dinner from 7.30pm to 10.30pm.
Euphoria Retreat is on the edge of Mystras, an ancient fortified town in the mountains of the Peloponnese peninsula.
Kalamata is the closest airport, around an hour’s drive from the hotel. During the summer season, there are direct flights from London Heathrow and Gatwick; in the off season, you’re better off touching down in Athens, then taking a car the rest of the way. The hotel can arrange transfers from Kalamata for €110 each way, or from Athens for €230 each way. Both rates are for up to three people; larger groups will need to book a van at an extra charge.
You won’t need a car if you’re planning on sticking to the local area, but it’s worth having one for day trips to the coast or nearby towns. There's free valet parking at the hotel.
Helicopter transfers can be arranged on request.
Worth getting out of bed for
With such an expansive spa on site, most of your time will be spent revitalising in the pools, treatment rooms and yoga studios. Many of the spa facilities are free for all guests, and you can cherry-pick those that aren’t, ensuring you get exactly what you want from the experience. For the most immersive stay, sign up for one of the structured programmes, which range from two days to three weeks, specialising in everything from self awareness to weight loss. The treatments are informed by thousands of years of medicine from both East and West, uniting Hellenic and traditional Chinese thought with cutting-edge research into biology, skincare and nutrition. Whatever program or treatments you choose, you’ll also be able to join as many of the free classes and workshops as you like. Some are at the hotel, others make the most of the dramatic landscape, including hikes up the mountain and aerial yoga sessions. Mystras, once the second-most important town in the Byzantine Empire, is not to be missed. Tactically positioned on the mountainside, this fortified town has crumbled to a ruin since it was abandoned in the 1830s, but still has several intact monasteries, providing fascinating insight into the town’s past. If you want to take a trip to the coast, the mediaeval town of Gythion is a 45-minute drive away, and has a charming promenade and clear water that’s perfect for a dip. For sheer drama, you can’t do much better than Monemvasia, built beneath rugged cliffs on an island nicknamed the Gibraltar of the East. The strategic value of the fortress led to it changing hands between the Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans and Franks in its prime, but today it’s an altogether more placid place.
Many guests choose to have all their meals at the hotel, particularly if they’re booked on one of the programmes. If you do want to eat out for lunch, try Taverna Pikoulianika, a no-frills taverna serving classic Peloponnese cuisine. Start with olives and the Greek salad, follow with the roast pork or the lamb chops – a firm favourite with regulars. For a laid-back but atmospheric dinner, book a table on the terrace of Chromata, which commands a fine view of the hills of Sparta. Chef Nikos turns out traditional and modern Greek dishes with a gourmet flourish, prizing homegrown ingredients while putting his own stamp on the local cuisine.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this spa retreat in Mystras and unpacked their olives from nearby Kalamata, a full account of their restorative break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Euphoria Retreat in Mystras…
By the time you’ve started the approach to Euphoria Retreat, you’ll likely feel that it couldn’t have been built anywhere else. This holistic spa hotel is just down the slope from the ruins of Mystras, once one of the most important cities in the Byzantine Empire. Dating back to the 13th century, the walled settlement is a reminder of a time when life moved to a more natural rhythm, and when people lived in harmony with the land. On the other side of the mountain are the fabled lands of the Spartans, famous for the power and vitality.
Of course, the retreat’s location is no accident. Owner Marina Efraimoglou spent a decade looking for the right place, and decided in a matter of minutes when she finally arrived in these pine-clad hills. Once she set about designing it, she turned to the philosophy of Greeks like Aristotle and Plato, channeling their theories into not just the concept and the spa, but the design of the building itself. From the rooms to the restaurant to the Byzantine hammam, serenity reigns supreme, aided by smooth shapes, calming colours and an abundance of wood and stone. Add to this the treatment process itself – which is as comprehensive and restorative as any you’ll come across – and you’ve got a yin/yang sense of balance that lands deftly between luxury and wellbeing.