Therme Bucharest
Therme Bucharest | Photograph: Charmaine Wong for Time Out

Europe’s viral mega-spa is coming to the UK – here’s what to expect

We spent the day at Therme, Europe’s biggest spa, before it comes to Manchester in 2025

Charmaine Wong

It’s a Friday evening and I’m surrounded by dozens of people in spandex. Transient music plays. We’re sitting here, sweating, waiting for the show to start. 

A man enters the sauna – a sweltering 90C – and splashes ice and aromatic oils onto the hot coals before us, releasing waves of scented steam into the air. He then takes a towel and disperses hot air currents over our balmy bodies in a graceful dance.

This is aufguss, a Germanic sauna ritual that incorporates dance, music, heat, and aromatherapy into one steamy experience. It’s a little theatrical for a 30-minute sauna session, but this is not your regular swimming complex. This is Therme Bucureștithe biggest spa in Europe. Featuring ten saunas offering different thematic aufguss sessions every hour, it’s like an all-you-can-sweat roving platter of thermal goodness. 

A treatment room at Therme
A treatment room at Therme | Photograph: Charmaine Wong for Time Out

The sprawling 44,000-square-metre complex is only a 7-minute drive from Bucharest’s international airport, and has been one of the most popular attractions in the Romanian capital since 2016. Everything about it is big – it hosts the largest urban beach and the largest indoor botanical garden in Europe. There are a whopping 800,000 exotic plants in the botanical garden, while the beach has real giant palm trees, constant 30C temperatures, a peppering of hydromassage beds, jacuzzi bars, and mineral pools that paint the whole space a calm turquoise hue. There’s even a 900-square-metre glass roof that retracts in summer.

Therme is home to Europe’s largest urban beach
Therme is home to Europe’s largest urban beach | Photograph: Charmaine Wong for Time Out

Therme’s got a lot to show off about, but its most impressive claim is that it’s the world’s first fully sustainable thermal spa resort. Its architecture and structures replicate organic patterns in the built environment, and much of its design uses natural materials, from bamboo to wood. There’s also a towering ‘salt library’ that is made out of air-purifying walls of Himalayan salt. 

At the Elysium – the area for luxe massages and facials – I’m presented with a massage menu that ranges from bee venom and CBD infusion to ancient herbal stamps. I opt for a one-hour herbal stamp massage, where my body is pulled, pressed and stamped with a steamy hot cheesecloth of ancient herbs steeped in aromatic oils.

It might not sound relaxing, but it is. I float out of the treatment room in a bit of a trance, following the faint sound of a beat coming from the main thermal pool at The Palm. A water aerobics session – just one of a dizzying variety of wellness activities – is underway. From the terrace, I watch a sea of people flowing in a synchronised routine. Flashing neon lights create an almost Ibiza-like atmosphere.

Water aerobics is one of many wellness activities at Therme
Water aerobics is one of many wellness activities at Therme | Photograph: Charmaine Wong for Time Out

That's the odd thing about this place. It’s a spa, sure, but it’s also a mind-bogglingly huge leisure centre. There’s a full-scale waterpark featuring 17 water slides (including – obviously – one of the biggest slides in Europe). I learn from the staff that families tend to leave their kids here before heading off to the spa, so at least everyone’s catered for.

The waterpark at Therme
The waterpark at Therme | Photograph: Charmaine Wong for Time Out

At 10.30pm, I attempt to end my day with the Liquid Gold aufguss in the Provence sauna, where they lather organic honey on your limbs – but of course, others had the same idea. So, I head outdoors into the steaming jacuzzi bar, get a drink and dissolve into the bubbling thermal waters. You know what? I’ve had worse days.   

Therme at night
Therme is open until late at night | Photograph: Charmaine Wong for Time Out

My tip? Get an all-access pass (from £32) and take your own sweet time, soaking and sauntering your way around all three main areas. Although entry prices differ depending on which areas you want access to and whether you’re visiting at peak time, it will be worth every penny. 

Therme opens from 9am to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, 10am to 11pm on Mondays to Thursdays and 9am to 11pm on Sundays.  

It’s not long now until Therme Manchester opens. Spanning 29 acres (that’s the size of 19 football pitches), the wellness complex will boast an all-season indoor beach, over 30 steam rooms, an on-site farm, and even a waterpark with over 18 water slides. It will be the first in a nationwide rollout of the Therme concept, which will eventually include Glasgow, London and Wales. So, get your swimsuit and sauna hats ready!

Time Out visited Bucharest on a group press trip with Wizz Air We. We were hosted by Therme Bucuresti and Peakture Hotel. For information on our policies around editorial independence, reviews and recommendations, see our editorial guidelines.

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