The Aquabella Hotel and Spa Thermus Sexitus
2, Rue des Etuves, Aix en Provence, France
To begin with, Aix-En-Provence is a magnificent town. In my opinion (and many others!) it is the crown jewel of Provence. To start, it is quite centrally located to just about anywhere you’d want to visit in the region, from Arles (with Van Gogh and a million art galleries) to the west – Isle Sur la Plage, Gordes (a breathtaking walled city), Avignon to the North, and, the gorgeous seaside town of Cassis to the southeast with a public sand beach that is worth a few hours of sun worshipping. Even St. Tropez, to see and be seen (and drop some serious Euros even just for a beach lounger) is a mere 1:30 (well, in no traffic!) away.
The rooftops of Aix-En-Provence
But then there is Aix-En-Provence itself.
Such a magical city! The friendliest people, the most beautiful vistas and streets. Clean, safe, and inviting. You can wind for hours through the cobblestone streets of the old city, spend more hours roaming the markets (if you are there on Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday mornings – they run until about noon) where you can sample all the tapenades and fromage and charcuterie., and spend even more hours in galleries or relaxing on a cafe on the Cours Mirabeau – perhaps at the famed Le Deux Garcons where the famous painter Cezanne used to have his coffee. If you have the time, a 15-30 minute walk outside of the main area will get you to Cezanne’s studio – where so many of his pieces were done and where you can see many of the objects he painted.
A Market in Aix-En-Provence
I could go on for pages about Aix-En-Provence – but if you are reading this it is probably because you have already chosen it as your destination and are looking for a hotel to stay in. Happily, I can absolutely help you there. I stayed for a week at the Aquabella Hotel
– just on the northeast corner of the old town – a 5 minute walk to the heart of it all but, with that slight detour outside of the main area, it is able to offer so many amenities that a hotel on, for instance, the Cours Mirabeau, simply couldn’t – a parking lot to start!
The pool at the Aquabella – fortress wall and all
But the piece-de-resistance at the Aquabella
is the attached spa to which all hotel guests have complimentary access. This spa is for real and includes a whirlpool with thermal water from beneath the hotel (great for soothing aching muscles after walking around all day!) as well as a large resort style pool with a backdrop that words can’t
describe (so I have this picture instead!). Not only that, but there is a full sauna and steam room as well as a couple of unique shower experiences (select the Mediterranean storm or the Caribbean storm to feel the difference (hint – the Mediterranean one is the intense one!). The spa includes a very small gym that is also complimentary for hotel guests.
If you are so inclined, and can speak a bit of French downstairs, you can reserve one of a huge array of spa treatments – some of which place you right in the thermal bath water and some of which are more standard hands-on treatments. Hotel guests get 20% off treatments that are “last minute”.
Every day before heading out I soaked a bit in the whirlpool and took in some sun at the pool. So relaxing.
For my room I paid to upgrade to a superior room with a terrace. SO WORTH IT. The views of the town (see picture) were breathtaking and I took breakfast each morning out there.
The room itself was also splendid – fully renovated with no details to fault (well except for an alarm clock whose plug could only operate when the attached light was on –
that was a weird one). The bathroom had a large soaking tub and there are bath salts supplied daily if you want to soak away those muscle aches in your own room instead of the spa.
Breakfast, which is included with some rate plans and approximately 16 Euro otherwise, varied greatly depending on if you could make it down by 10am for the buffet or took it in your room (until noon which was great). At the buffet, there was quite a large selection. Eggs, bacon, sausage, coffee and espresso, cheeses, croissants, pastries, and cereals. Seating was mostly outside which was nice except for the no-fear birds that had no issue flying to your table to fly off with a croissant! (Yes, this happened to me!) In your room, it was a basket of pastries and bread, coffee or tea, yogurt and juice. Overall nice, but I took some issue with the cleanliness of the plates and glasses. They really should be spot checking those based on the number of dirty cups I received over the week.
The staff was, uniformly, top notch. Friendly as could be, able to speak English quite fluently, very knowledgeable about the area. No complaints at all! When I needed dry cleaning that wouldn’t make it in time based on the usual methods, they found a local place and had it done on time for me – at the same standard hotel costs. They just had someone drop it off and pick it back up for me. No fuss.
View of hotel from the pool
Parking is in a lot near the hotel. Given the proximity to the old town, it’s a joy to have the parking (10 Euro per day). Note though that it’s quite an odd facility and requires some real maneuvering to get the car in and out if it is bigger than a compact.
In short, I cannot recommend the Aquabella hotel in Aix
enough. If you don’t mind a 5 minute walk into the action as opposed to waking up right in the middle of it, and if you enjoy having a full spa at your disposal, this is the hotel to stay in in Aix-En-Provence.
Hope to see you there next time!