Spoiled Brat

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Spoiled Brat

Still waters may run deep, but in Slovakia it’s an undercurrent of thermal waters which visitors should be concerned with. And whilst the capital of Bratislava is a great place to enjoy a relaxing soak, for real indulgence On Kupelne or ‘Spa Island’ is the choice of those searching for comprehensive pampering.

Only an hour north of the city, the scenic island is a fertile adjunct to the River Vah which flows to the north of Slovakia. This slice of verdant land is a rich source of natural springs, and hot water bubbles up from many places around the shoreline. What’s more, the warmed mud found in and around the river is hailed as a miracle cure for everything from stress to arthritis.

The properties if this magical mud are so exalted that it has been slathered on kings and queens since medieval times, and even Beethoven paid a visit to test its medicinal qualities. Today the island itself is lined with several large hotels, some of which attract annual ‘residents’ – rich locals who hole up for the winter to relax and rejuvenate for lengthy periods.

Glorious Mud

Given popular belief in the healing properties of sulphurous water-logged soil, it’s no surprise that mud and mineral waters form a large part of most treatments. And to put it bluntly, spa procedures are unlikely to be the sweetest smelling part of your trip, even if they do come with claims to cure your musculature complaints and put paid to that bout of depression.

You can choose to be massaged with mud, have it smoothed onto specific areas of your body, or live out a childhood mud-pie fantasy by immersing yourself in a mud pool. Whilst other treatments concentrate on spraying or massaging with the healing mineral waters, which are purported to decrease cellulite and improve circulation.

A favourite of locals is the ‘salt cave’, which form part of the facilities at several of the larger spa hotels. These are rooms which have been plastered in salts from various oceans, allowing guests ensconced in the chamber to breath in the healing minerals of seawater. Forty-five minutes in the cave apparently has the same benefits as a three day stay by the sea. And if you didn’t know an ocean visit was good for your health, Slovakians claim it will clear your airways and even act as a therapeutic tool for ‘diseases of the mind’.

The entire area is well set up for those on a leisure break, so if you’d rather not take the plunge in a spa, you can play golf, swim, or eat out in a number of local restaurants. According to most of the hoteliers, simply enjoying the island air is enough to benefit your health. So relax, breathe deeply, and consider booking yourself in for a longer stay.

Getting There

Trains depart from Bratislava around fifteen times a day to Piestany village on the River Vah, where On Kupelne is a short walk across the bridge. The journey takes about an hour. By car the distance is 80km north of Bratislava.

Checking In

A number of hotels on On Kupelne can be booked via a single weblink. Whilst the adjoining village of Piestrany also benefits from the mineral rich geography and is ideal for spa hotel stays. Bookings for all hotels at: www.spapiestany.sk

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