Two times a year, mom and I treat ourselves to a relaxing day at the thermae. We used to go to Thermae Grimbergen, but when they opened a second spa in Melsbroek, just five minutes from where my parents live here in Belgium, we decided to check that out. Recently we’ve been there for the third time. Needless to say we’ve approved of the place and that’s why I decided to share it with you.
Thermae Boetfort is housed in the castle of Boetfort, one of many castles in Belgium that have been restored and given a new purpose. You can find not only the thermae in this renewed castle but also the restaurant and the Thermae Boetfort hotel. That’s right, if one day of relaxing isn’t enough for you, you can easily spend the night here.
Let's get ready to… just relax
When you arrive at Thermae Boetfort you first have to pass through the reception. There you pay for entry.
If you forgot to bring a bathrobe, towel, bathing suit or slippers, no worries, you can rent them here as well. The reception is also where you get your day schedule if you’ve made reservations for one or more treatments (massage, peeling, floating…).
After you’ve “checked in,” you go to the locker room where you can change and put your stuff in, well, lockers. Don’t compare this room with the locker rooms you see in United States high school television shows though! This room has a heated floor, is nice and spacious, and immediately puts you in Zen mode for the rest of your stay.
Hanging at the Curia
From the locker room, you can choose where you want to go: Thermae Moenia (nude part) or Thermae Curia (bathing suit part). My mom and I always go to Curia, although we suspect the Moenia spa is a bit bigger (we do have plans to check that out next time!).
If you have an early massage, start by taking a hot foot bath so you don't get all wet from the pools before your appointment. While the sauna part of the thermae is situated in the old stables of the castle, the beauty part is located in the castle itself. You don’t have to get out in the cold to get there, though — there’s an underground tunnel that you can take!
Thermae offers a wide range of massage services, including 50-minute, full-body massages (that's what we did!). When you’re with a party of two having a massage, like my mom and I were, you can ask to get it in the same cabin. Always nice.
We’d had the massage before and just like before it was fine. The only small remark I have — and this is about the only negative thing I can say about Thermae Boetfort — is that the massage cabins seem to be located above the kitchen or restaurant, which means you can sometimes hear the noise from downstairs. It isn’t so disturbing that it stops you from relaxing, but it doesn’t go by unnoticed either.
If you don't want a massage, you can try some of their other treatments, like floating in salt water, getting a manicure or facial treatment, or a gel wrap. There are plenty of options, so don't be shy and try something new.
After your massage or treatment, try heading to the sauna part of Thermae Boetfort to take a hot steam bath. Image a small room with a low ceiling, filled up with hot water. Or better yet, have a look at this picture:
After the hot steam bath, you can take a shower and bravely go for a swim in the outside swimming pool. Again, you can get in the swimming pool from the inside, so that you don’t have to fully step outside. This swimming pool is heated but in winter you do need to keep moving around not to get cold. At least I did.
Time for lunch!
Everyone knows that swimming makes you hungry, so it's time to check out the restaurant. Nice to know: before the Boetfort castle was turned into Thermae Boetfort, the restaurant had already been there and they’ve kept it as it was.
Someone will quickly come to take your order and while you wait (not long) for your meal to arrive, try one of their little appetizers. For lunch, my mom and I both had a “Croque Special Boetfort” with cheese, zucchini and salmon (€11/$11). The croque came with a salad, some onions, pickles, ketchup, and mayonnaise on the side:
You can't see it clearly on the picture, but we got two double croques (four slices of bread)! More than enough to keep us full for the rest of the afternoon. With my croque, I had a Tonisteiner lemon (€2/$5); my mom had a regular Tonisteiner and a coffee.
Hanging at the Curia – Part 2
Start your afternoon by taking a steam bath and a nice shower afterwards. Definitely try the Music Sauna (55°C). This is my favorite sauna in the Curia complex. The wooden benches made to lie on have a very comfortable shape:
Good to know: Thermae Boetfort built some private saunas you can rent with a group or as a couple.
After the sauna, take another shower to cool off and then jump into the jacuzzi. The jacuzzis are located outside, but don’t let that stop you from jumping in winter. The water has a perfect temperature and you won’t be cold.
Personally, by that time, steam was coming out of my ears and I really needed to cool down, so I decided to take another dip in the outside swimming pool while my mom stayed inside.
All freshened up, I installed myself on one of the comfi chairs and almost dozed off, when I realized it was time to go get our second massage. The salt massage was offered to us by Thermae Boetfort and boy, a real gift it was! Pure relaxation and enjoyment 50 minutes long.
Note: I believe the salt massage has been replaced with a 50-minute herbal stamp massage, so your experience attempting to get this service may be different.
I almost dozed off there again and I think I experienced half of the massage in some strange state between being awake and being asleep. Although we’d planned to go have a look in the Moenia part before going home, my mom and I were both so Zen after that massage that we decided it was the perfect ending for our day.
At the end of your stay, get changed, pass through the reception to pay your bill, and leave with a smile on your face.
Sellaerstraat 42, 1820 Melsbroek (Steenokkerzeel)
There is free parking in front of the entrance.
(Disclaimer: as said, the salt stamps massage was offered to us by Thermae Boetfort, but all opinions and reflections here will always be my own.)