Healing springs run deep in the Tuscan town of Montecatini Terme, where visitors have taken the waters for centuries. Palazzo Belvedere, a very grand hotel packed with iconic Italian furnishings and replete with manicured greenery also overflows with holistic healthfulness. Its enormous spa’s treatments are themed around the elements (massages in a swaying hammock for air, sauna-set dry scrubs for fire, mud packs for earth, wave-like kneading for water…), alongside sleep rituals, art and dance therapies amid other unique uplifts, and trips to 18th-century thermal complex Tettuccio. But abundant natural wines, a pantry to pick at, and farm-fresh dining might also account for the cheery glow you’ll leave here with, too.
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Welcome drink and holistic spa assessment, plus a local treat (say, cake from Montecatini Terme)
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £106.64 (€122), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.70 per person per night on check-out.
Rates include an indulgent breakfast of homemade sourdough bread and croissants with Alpine butter, cakes, fruits and vegetables, farmhouse cold cuts and cheeses, eggs any-way, French toast and croques (vegan and gluten-free options available).
The hotel’s public areas are all accessible except for the swimming pool and there are four rooms sizeable enough to suit guests with mobility issues.
At the hotel
8,000 square-metres of parkland; landscaped and botanical gardens with fire pits and seating; spa, sauna, steam room and movement-therapy studio, gym, cellar, small food market, one-room ‘museum’ dedicated to architect Giovanni Michelucci, bike room, lounge and library, charged laundry service, free WiFi. In rooms: TV, minibar, tea-making kit, naturally dyed bag (to use while onsite) filled with garden herbs, air-conditioning, Comfort Zone spa kit, and pillow menu.
Our favourite rooms
The design of rooms and suites grounds you in the area’s nature and culture, with botanical drawings, furnishings crafted by local carpenters, and some have ‘Scapular’ chairs by architect Giovanni Michelucci, an emblematic Tuscan architect who designed Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station. The style is largely mod-rustic, but some suites have restored original features; and the top-tier BV Suite is absolutely the most indulgent dwelling here, with a furnished terrace, spa spoiling space, and even a little room for your dog if you’ve brought one along.
There are two large pools (both open 11am to 7pm), shielded by centuries-old magnolia trees: one indoor and heated (largely for use during winter) and an unheated open-air pool. They’re both part of the spa, so while you can lounge beside the outdoor pool at any time, you’re most likely to use them as part of or alongside a treatment. And there’s a Jacuzzi, too.
You’ll be in your element – or possibly more than one – in the 2,000-square-metre spa, where treatments are largely based around earth air, fire and water. (‘Fire’, for example, is dry massages with rosemary sprigs or sulphur rods, skin brushing in a Finnish sauna and acupressure with mugwort sticks; ‘water’ is Kneipp walking and floral baths; ‘earth’ is olive-wood kneading and tumbled-stone baths; and ‘air’ is an especially fun massage in a hammock.) If you’re not sure which one you are, kick off your wellbeing journey with a consultation with the resident naturopath. Otherwise, the healing waters of Montecatini’s thermal park await, whether you imbibe or soak in them. There are the more usual massages (including couple’s), regenerative facials and wraps; but more holistic practices include sleep rituals, osteopathy, visualisation sessions, natural appetite stimulants, and assisted meditation. There’s also a Technogym-equipped workout space; the White Portico studio for yoga, Pilates and more; experience showers and fireplace-warmed relaxation rooms.
The hotel’s pantry, La Dispensa, is packed with edible treats (some free, some charged): jars of sauce, cakes and biscuits, fresh fruit, olive oil, local wines and snack-y bits. Stock up on essential oils to continue your wellness journey back home, and nab some custom Davines products in the spa.
Each room has a different delicate botanical drawing, reflecting the rich biodiversity of the gardens and leafy surroundings, and hanging in the wardrobe is a flower-dyed bag filled with fresh herbs.
There are few ills a drink on a sunny terrace can’t cure – the elevated one here looks out over the circular garden. And if you’ve arrived on the Equinox (or each week from then), welcome the spring with dinner in the botanic garden.
Shimmy out of your spa robes and into something fittingly regal of Italian lineage.
The hotel has two restaurants, both of which paint a vivid picture of the fertile surroundings with seasonal ingredients grown onsite or sourced from small farms and producers close by. No | More is a casual spot with both a wood-burning oven for freshly paddled pizzas and a barbecue, and brunch is served here on Sundays. A dressier, dine-on-request evening spot, More | No is where chef Daniele Ciofi holds court. Both are named after his style of cooking, where each ingredient is prepared simply, with great care, and there’s no unnecessary foams or gels.
It may not be as conducive to wellness as the rest of the stay, but Mou Bar stays open 24 hours, and you can try and buy local wines in the pantry or garden cellar.
Breakfast is served 7am to 11am. No | More serves from noon to midnight, and More | No serves dinner from 7pm to 11pm. The pantry is open 24 hours.
Satisfy late-night cravings with an in-room menu running from 1am to 7am (a €7 tray charge applies).
Palazzo Belvedere is set in Tuscany’s famed spa town of Montecatini Terme, next door to the sprawling thermal-bath complex it’s named after.
Florence’s Amerigo Vespucci Airport is a 30-minute drive away, and Pisa International is an hour by car; transfers can be arranged from both on request.
The closest train station is Montecatini Centro, a 15-minute drive away, and an hour’s train ride from Florence.
Usually Tuscany is best discovered by car, but if you’re dedicating yourself to some heavy self-care here then you’ll spend most of your time in the spa or thermal baths. But should you wish to roam, there’s a carpark with 20 spaces onsite (€20 a night, for each car) and two electric-vehicle-charging stations. And the hotel can help with rental, with the likes of Lamborghinis, Maseratis and Mercs on call if you want a flashier ride.
Worth getting out of bed for
It’s easy to immerse yourself in local life in the picturesque Tuscan town Montecatini Terme, considering the place sprung up around the healing hot springs that still draw wellness-seekers to this day. Make like a delicate, lovelorn Victorian heroine, and get thee to the Tettuccio thermal complex, a set of grand 18th-century structures inspired by Roman baths, built by architect Gaspero Maria Paoletti (who also re-styled parts of the Uffizi), and surrounded by elegantly trim parkland. Then sip and soak your way to rude health from four mineral-rich sources, before admiring the painted panels by artist Basilico Cascella. Palazzo Belvedere’s enormous spa is becoming as much of a lure as this holistic hotspot, but the hotel has a well-rounded approach to Tuscan uplifting. There are tastings of local natural wines and olive oil, and botanical workshops with resident garden-tender Mrs Lidia, focusing on wild herbs and aromatic plants, turning them into dyes, perfumes and edibles, held in the garden cellar or pantry. Partake in yoga, Pilates and meditation in the light-filled studio; dance and paint your way to equilibrium; play tennis at the La Torretta club close by; or hit the bike room to borrow electric, racing, mountain and city cycles, plus any kit you’ll need (€25 for a half day, €50 for a full day). Staff can arrange a two-wheeled itinerary for you (some lasting a few days), with journeys out to Pizzorne and the Lucchesi hills, the Pistoia Mountains, and Montalbano. A rich seam of Florentine culture runs through the area too: the hotel has a room dedicated to the furnishings and work of architect and designer Giovanni Michelucci, and a day-trip where you can privately tour his former homes Villa Fontallerta and Villa Roseto (now home to the Michelucci Foundation). And the Montecatini Contemporary Art museum name-checks Joan Miró and Claes Oldenburg. Ask staff to pack you a picnic for the funicular up to mediaeval village Montecatini Alto, where there’s a scenic cobbled square dedicated to poet Giuseppe Giusti. And you can play through the Tuscan hills on the Montecatini Golf course, but you might prefer to explore them with the verve of a vintage Italian movie star, at the wheel of a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Maserati; the hotel can arrange hire.
Overhung with Murano-glass chandeliers, La Pecora Nera plumbs the Italian coast for its fish-focused menu, with coconut-milk-marinated red-snapper tartare with crunchy courgette blossoms; and salt cod with cucumber purée and nori powder. Just down the road, Trattoria Da Marino (102 Via Lucchese) has a humbler look that belies the supremacy of its culinary offerings: fall-apart veal cheeks soused in Brunello di Montalcino; pasta tossed in a rabbit and chicken sugo; pork shoulder soaked till soft in chianti, and wines from small vineyards to wash it all down with.
Set in the Tettuccio thermal spa complex, Caffè Storico is an extremely genteel place for espresso shots and pastries, lined with marble columns and frescoed walls.
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 cure-all tonic of a stay in thermal-spring-spouting village Montecatini Terme, bringing back a new sense of balance to their life, a full account of their taking-the-waters break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Palazzo Belvedere in Tuscany…
Well, well – very well indeed, actually – what do we have here? Palazzo Belvedere, a grande-dame of a Tuscan hotel where you can’t help but leave with a spring in your step and possibly coursing through you, after imbibing the healing thermal waters of frescoed, 18th-century Tettuccio mineral baths next door. Those seeking a pick-me-up have come to taste and wallow in these waters since ancient times, and now wellness-seekers have even more reason to make the pilgrimage: the Palazzo’s 2,000-square-metre spa, which carries pretty much all conceivable forms of holistic uplift you could imagine, including a Kneipp walk, sauna, cryotherapy, hydrotherapy… Most treatments are themed around the four elements, making them more imaginative than most: say being swung in a hammock as someone below you kneads out knots and fragrant air circulates; or quite literally grounding earthy massages, where you lie on the floor, or being submerged in ‘baths’ of smooth stones; acupressure with mugwort ‘cigars’ or warming salt scrubs for fire; and blue-light sessions and floral baths for water. But, that’s just the start of the journey to a healthier happier you, whether you decide to dance and paint, or choose natural-wine tasting, picnics in the leafy surrounds and excellent country cuisine – the well runs deep here.