A spa hotel isn’t always my first choice when I go on holiday, mostly because I just love being outdoors too much and never spend enough time actually making the most of the facilities. However, the ADLER Spa Resort in Tuscany, Italy, had the perfect mix of both. With nothing but green space all around us and plenty of marked trails straight from the hotel, it meant we could split our time between the incredible spa facilities and exploring the local towns.
As you can imagine, travelling at the moment is a little different. In Italy, masks are worn on all public transport and inside most places, so when we entered the Resort, we weren’t surprised to see staff and guests in masks too. The first thing I noticed was that they had really increased their hygiene standards, everything was incredibly clean and there was hand sanitiser dotted regularly throughout the hotel in specially made automatic dispensers – I thought this was a nice touch.
After checking in and dropping our bags in our room, we went to explore the rest of the hotel. Outside there are two swimming pools, one with thermal water at 36°, and another that’s a little cooler. Sunbeds surround the pools and there’s also a restaurant here too. A short walk away is an outdoor fitness area with a few pieces of cardio equipment, marked jogging trail and sports ground. Inside, there’s also a fully equipped gym.
One of the best features of this hotel though is the new outdoor spa. Situated at the back of the hotel, the outdoor spa has a range of different plunge pools, saunas and steam rooms. Given the current social distancing restrictions, all sauna and steam rooms had to be pre-booked. This consisted of 20-minute slots (with 5 minutes in between for cleaning), and you could only go in with the people you were travelling with. We managed to get a slot in most of the saunas, including the ‘Panoramica’, which is a ‘Finnish sauna in the woods’ and one of our favourites. Heated by hot coals, the sauna has huge glass windows, which look out towards the rolling hills. And what a treat, we had it all to ourselves – the silver linings.
We had a standard double room with an ensuite, large bed and small lounge area. I particularly enjoyed the separate duvets on the bed; Even though the room had air conditioning, it made for a much more comfortable night’s sleep in the warm climate.
Bottled water, a small selection of fruit and our own bottle of hand sanitizer was also left for us. There was just as much attention to detail in the bathroom, which had an array of top quality products from the spa. Tiled in sand-coloured marble, the bathroom had a huge shower and a large mirror above the sink. There was also a mixture of towels and robes, as well as flip flops – being a spa hotel, it wasn’t uncommon to see people walking around in their robes all day.
The hotel has been designed so that most of the rooms have an outside area, with large doors that open onto the grounds. The small patio area just outside the room is partitioned by a wall, so there is some privacy between neighbours. Complete with two chairs and a table, it was a lovely area to sit and enjoy pre-dinner drinks.
There are multiple places to eat at the hotel: Osteria; the outside pool bar; the main open-air restaurant, which also doubles up as the breakfast room; in the Piano Bar and even in the wine cellar. On the first day, we had a light lunch at the pool bar, first nibbling on some bread and olive oil, followed by a set menu of seafood pasta, grilled mixed fish, and grilled prawns. While it was all very nice, portions were quite small and there was no real finesse added to the dishes as I would have expected. The staff were also a little slow (we had to get our own balsamic vinegar in the end and chase for our pudding of ice cream).
However, any negative thoughts were banished when it came to dinner, which we had in the open-air restaurant, lit by moonlight and candles. The menu wasn’t huge, which we liked. I much prefer a few dishes done well than too many, executed poorly. Our waiter was incredibly attentive too, offering us a glass of bubbles to start, while we enjoyed more bread and olive oil – it’s something I just don’t get tired of.
For our ‘Primi’, we shared the smoked deer petals, with hot ricotta, pumpkin seeds and truffle, and a seafood dish of calamari and razor clams. Both were presented beautifully, on large black and white plates, with dashes of colour splashed in a typically ‘cheffy way’, adding a little extra theatre. Flavours were delicate, not too overpowering; tasteful.
Being in Italy, we decided to try the Fiorentina steak for our main, which was brought to our table still sizzling and carved in front of us. It was cooked and seasoned perfectly, served with a side of roasted vegetables and sliced roast potatoes. It didn’t need a sauce, the flavour was all in the steak and the cooking technique. We washed it down with a lovely bottle of Primitivo, as recommended by our waiter.
Feeling rather full after our main, we decided to take dessert to our room. Little did we know, our wonderful waiter was to deliver it to us himself – He even selected the desserts: praline mousse with almond brittle, fresh berry sorbet with berries and biscuit crumb, and of course, the classic Tiramisu. We unashamedly ate every last piece, with the Tiramisu and praline mousse reining as firm favourites.
The restaurant takes on quite a different feel in the morning, with the sun filling the whole room. Due to Covid-19, careful precautions had been taken in the buffet area; bread was sliced by a waiter at a separate glass covered station, yoghurt, fresh fruit, salmon, meats and cereal were all portioned out into small glass containers, and any hot food and all drinks were ordered through the waiter. We tried a bit of everything, chia pudding, exotic fruits, meats, yoghurt and a very nice omelette.
Out and about:
While you can easily fill your time lazing by the pool, having treatments or dipping in and out of the saunas, it would be a shame to miss out on seeing a little of the local landscape. The hills surrounding the Resort are part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, offering a great expanse of trails to explore on bike or foot. The hotel has a selection of different mountain bikes on offer, which you can hire for free (road bikes at an extra cost), and either explore alone or jump on one of the many guided tours.
On one afternoon, we went on a 5km round hike, which took us to the historic town of Bagno Vignoni. If you fancy a drink or spot of food outside of the hotel, I definitely recommend coming here to soak up the local charm. We also hired bikes one morning and followed one of the 450kms of marked routes – you definitely need an E-bike to get around the hills!
With there still being some uncertainty around travelling at the moment, the hotel was mostly full of local Italians, on a ‘staycation’. The hotel does welcome families but we only saw a few children during our stay. Mostly though, this is a place for couples or friends looking for a relaxing wellness retreat.
The worst thing:
At times, it did feel like regular customers were treated slightly differently and given a little more attention. However, we only really noticed this when dining at the pool bar. And given the rest of our stay was faultless, it is really not something that has affected my opinion of the resort in any way.
The best thing:
The outside Thermae Spa was definitely our favourite part of the hotel. With limited numbers using the area, it really did offer a tranquil escape and we loved plunging into the pools and trying the different saunas. It’s open until early evening too, which means you can go in when it’s a little cooler outside.
There are an array of different packages that you can choose from at the hotel, including retreats, detoxes, food and drink, and of course spa. Deals tend to start from around €400 per person, for two nights +, including breakfast. They also regularly release last-minute deals, so it’s well worth keeping an eye on the website.