One of the best things to do in Bulgaria in winter is to go to the spa. For those of you reading but not knowing about it, one of Bulgaria’s biggest treasures is the abundance of hot thermal springs. With over 600 mineral water springs, Bulgaria is second in Europe, after Iceland, in natural mineral water and spring water resources. The natural hot waters flowing from springs in Bulgaria are great for relaxation and healing. That makes the country very appealing to those looking for a budget spa holiday in Europe.
And as the name of the article suggests, in this article, I am introducing you to a specific spa destination in Bulgaria, one that is fairly new, super modern, and has a 5000 m2 SPA oasis for you to pamper and recharge all your senses.
Welcome to Grand Hotel Therme, a five-star luxury hotel near Bulgaria’s most popular ski destination, Bansko. I spent a long weekend at Grand Hotel Theme in January of 2024, and in this article, I will tell you all about the hotel and the experience of staying in it.
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A Brief Introduction to Grand Hotel Therme
Grand Hotel Therme is exquisitely designed in Alpine style with natural elements like wood and stone, offering a unique sense of closeness to nature. The hotel is designed as a place for a family vacation, but it also has adults-only areas for those visiting without kids looking for some relaxation. In addition to the hotel part and its 176 luxurious rooms, Grand Hotel Therme offers suites, penthouses, apartments, and a number of luxurious houses (which can be purchased by individuals and companies).
Grand Hotel Therme is located in the village of Banya, only 5 km away from Bansko. Thanks to its thermal springs, the village of Banya has established itself as a resort paradise with plenty of hotels and guesthouses. People love coming to Banya for a vacation year-round, not only for its healing thermal springs but also for its easy access to Pirin Mountain, where one can go hiking in summer and skiing in winter. All of this combined makes the village of Banya and the region of Grand Hotel Therme one of the best places to visit in Bulgaria.
The Spa of Grand Hotel Therme
Spanning over 5000 m2, the spa and wellness center is the very heart of your experience at Grand Hotel Therme. The hotel is fortunate to be supplied with mineral water from a spring located just 3 km away from the village of Banya. This spring, the source of Grand Hotel Therme’s mineral water maintains a consistent average temperature of approximately 58°C. However, it’s not just ordinary spring water – it’s a mineral-rich elixir. Packed with beneficial elements such as fluoride, chlorine, sulfur, magnesium, sodium, calcium, iron, and more, these minerals contribute to various health benefits. They are recognized for their beneficial effects on inflammation of the joints, rheumatism, sciatica, and other musculoskeletal and nervous system problems, as well as respiratory tract diseases and more. The wellness center of Grand Hotel Therme is not only a must-visit spa destination in Bulgaria but also the largest mineral spa center in all of the Balkans.
The spa complex of Grand Hotel Therme includes:
- INDOOR Vitality pool with mineral water 38° C
- OUTDOOR Adults ONLY pool with mineral water 38° C ❤️
- OUTDOOR Vitality pool with mineral water 38° C ❤️
- OUTDOOR Interactive pool with mineral water ❤️
- INDOOR WELLNESS mineral water pool
- INDOOR mineral water pool with stars
- INDOOR mineral water pool for Kneipp therapy ❤️
- INDOOR mineral water pool with a fireplace
- INDOOR shock pool
- Herbal sauna ❤️
- Finnish sauna
- Aroma sauna ❤️
- Aroma steam bath
- Steam bath with shock pool ❤️
- Lavender sauna
The ones that I put a heart next to were my favorites. The indoor pools are also nice, but I prefer the outdoors better. We were lucky that it snowed while we were there, and I also very much enjoyed just relaxing in one of the outdoor pools while the snow was raining over our heads. I also loved the kid-adults separation areas, as I am not personally a fan of screaming children splashing you with water while you are trying to relax. In Grand Hotel Therme, a few pools are accessible to children, but most are in the adult-only area so that you can relax undisturbed.
The Rooms at Grand Hotel Therme
We were accommodated in one of the luxurious houses spanning two floors, featuring 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a spacious living room, and a courtyard with a barbecue and a mineral water-fed pool accessible exclusively for the house’s guests.
The Restaurants at Grand Hotel Therme
Let’s talk about food (one of my favorite topics!). In this regard, Grand Hotel Therme receives a great rating from me. There is an abundance of choices across its 4 main restaurants and a pastry shop – everything for every taste. During breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the food is presented in the hotel’s main restaurants, Therme and Alpine, in the form of a Swedish-style buffet.
There is a rich selection of hams and cheeses, fresh vegetables and fruits, meat dishes, pastries, desserts, and so much more. I loved that there were many things they were cooking as ready-to-serve dishes, such as Caprese salad, my beloved avocado and egg sandwich for breakfast, and more. I also loved the variety of protein-rich foods for breakfast, including protein pancakes. I was getting those or the avocado sandwiches for breakfast, and for dinner, I mostly had fish with grilled vegetables and black rice.
You can have lunch at one of the two main restaurants or in the Aperi Therme restaurant that is situated in the spa center. This one has a brunch menu, offering a lesser choice and lighter food. Grand Hotel Therme also has an A-la-carte restaurant where you can order from the head chef’s specialties.
My favorite desserts were the cheesecake served in the restaurants and the energy balls from the pastry shop. As for drinks, various alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available at the restaurants and bars across the hotel.
Additional Facilities & Activities at Grand Hotel Therme
The spa is at the center of Grand Hotel Therme, but the hotel complex offers a lot more than that. There is also a gym (adults only), a really nice one actually, with new and various equipment. Of course, we tried it out and did a nice workout. Initially, it was a bit crowded, but soon, people finished their workouts, and the gym was pretty much all to ourselves. The gym at Gran Hotel Therme is part of the most modern equipped chain in Bulgaria – Pulse. Even if you are interested in going to the gym but don’t have much experience, don’t worry, as each hotel guest can benefit from individual training with a qualified trainer from the Pulse chain.
Additional facilities and activities at Grand Hotel Therme:
We really wanted to try the massages offered at Grand Hotel Therme, but unfortunately, they were fully booked (note: if you want to get a massage, reserve yourself a spot as early as possible). However, Alex from travelbetter.bg, who managed to book himself, reported that it was one of the best massages that he had in his life.
Just another thing that you could do when visiting Grand Hotel Therme.
Hot air balloon:
Subject to weather conditions, of course, the hot air balloon is another activity Grand Hotel Therme offers for its guests. We were going to take a ride, but it snowed, so we enjoyed the spa more instead.
If you’re not staying at the hotel but still want to enjoy its spa facilities, you can still visit. There is a daily spa shuttle between Grand Hotel Therme and Bansko.
Those who want to enjoy the slopes during the day can leverage the hotel-organized shuttle that runs every day.
Every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, there is a guest musician at the hotel. While we were there, there was a live sax.
Grand Hotel Therme provides a children’s corner with an animator, entertaining games, toys, music, and themed parties for your little ones.
Things to Know and Tips About Visiting Grand Hotel Therme:
- Free private parking.
- Charging station for electric cars.
- Free Wi-Fi – not of the best quality, but it works well enough to surf the Internet.
- Airport transfer services are available.
- Most guests come on an all-inclusive basis, but you can also come on a bed-and-breakfast or breakfast-and-dinner basis.
- The all-inclusive includes all the food across all restaurants and shops and only local alcohol that is not of the best quality.
- Surprisingly, the bottled mineral water was not included in the all-inclusive. You can still get water for free but it is from some vending machine. It is not bad, tho; it is normal water.
- Check-in and check-out times are standard, but if you arrive earlier or your room is still not ready, you can use the hotel facilities.
- Luggage storage is also available.
- The spa is open from 9 am to 9 pm.
- The outdoor adults-only pool is open until midnight.
- You can visit the spa center even if you are not a guest of the hotel. The daily fee is 50 BGN.
- There is a minimum stay of 2 nights.
- Prices start at 204 BGN (approximately 104 EUR) per person per night for an all-inclusive package.
- A resort tax of 1.30 BGN per person per day must be paid at the reception.
How to Get to Grand Hotel Therme?
The closest airport to Grand Hotel Therme is Sofia International Airport, which is 184 km away. Assuming that most people will make their way to the hotel from Sofia, the easiest and most convenient way to get to Grand Hotel Therme is by car. You can rent a car directly at the airport or from one of the rental car companies in the city. Non-Bulgarians who are unaware of the local speed limitations and driving laws, check my Traveling Bulgaria by Car article for more information.
Other ways to get to Grand Hotel Therme from Sofia include bus and train.
You can get a bus from Sofia to Razlog or Bansko, and from there, take a quick taxi ride to the hotel. Basnko is only 5 km away, whereas Razlog is just 7 km away. For the taxi, make sure to have cash, as taxis outside of the big cities rarely (if ever) accept payments by card.
The train is the slowest means of transportation, but the ride is very scenic and an experience on its own. The Rhodope Narrow Gauge is the most scenic train ride in Bulgaria. The train runs from the town of Septemvri to the resort town of Dobrinishte at the foot of Pirin Mountain. Its track gauge is only 760mm. For its length of 124,7 km, the train passes through the gorge of Chepisnka River, Avromovo Saddle that divides the mountains of Rila and the Rhodopes, and continues following the Mesta River until it reaches the Razlog Valley at the foot of Pirin Mountain.
Places to Visit & Things to Do Near Grand Hotel Therme
Grand Hotel Therme is situated in a beautiful region, providing its guests easy access to nature, culture, and other attractions. Here are the best places to visit near Grand Hotel Therme and things to do outside of the hotel:
Away from its ski slopes, Bansko attracts visitors with its unique culinary specialties and charming old town with well-preserved medieval architecture and quaint cobblestone streets lined with traditional Bulgarian houses. In the summer, the town hosts the Bansko Jazz Festival and summer cinema. The surroundings are also popular among cyclists of different skill levels.
Razlog is a small town near Grand Hotel Therme. While visiting, you can climb the stairs to the top of Golak Hill, which provides a 360-panoramic view of the Pirin, Rhodope, and Rila mountains. Another interesting attraction in Razlog is the Ancient Solar Calendar in the city’s central park. It represents twelve marble slabs with carved animal figures arranged in a circle. This archeological discovery dates back to the 8th century BC and represents the only complete and preserved representation of the Ancient Bulgarian calendar.
Discover the story of the rescued bears at the Dancing Bears Park in Belitsa. This sanctuary is dedicated to the welfare of formerly mistreated bears and is only a few stops away by the Rhodope Narrow Gauge train. You can drive there, but I recommend you take the train.
Hiking in Pirin Mountain:
The hiking opportunities in Pirin are endless. Hiking lovers can enjoy the many stunning trails across the mountain, with the hike to Vihren Peak being the most famous one. Other interesting and panoramic peaks worth hiking include Sinanitsa, Todorka, Muratov, Polezhan, Kamenitsa, and Dzhano, to name a few. In winter, you must be more careful and ensure you are well-equipped for a winter hike.
Skiing and snowboarding in Bansko or Dobrinishte:
Bansko is known as the best and most famous ski resort in Bulgaria. It is a great destination for beginners, advanced skiers, and snowboarders, featuring 18 slopes covering approximately 80 kilometers at an elevation ranging from 2,000 to 2,600 meters above sea level. Neighboring Bansko’s ski resort, Dobrinishte (or Bezbog) emerges as a local favorite and a hidden gem among winter destinations. Offering an alternative to the bustling scene of Bansko, Dobrinishte provides a more affordable and less touristy atmosphere. With only 5 kilometers of slopes, Dobrinishtet is a haven for freeriders.
Ride the Rhodope Narrow Gauge:
I already covered the train ride above, but seriously, if you’re visiting Grand Hotel Therme, go for this train ride – it is worth it.
One of the most important cultural, historical, and architectural monuments in Bulgaria is the Rila Monastery. The Rila Monastery is nestled on the slopes of Rila Mountain in the deep valley of the Rilska River at an elevation of 1, 147 meters above sea level.
I hope that this article gave you a good overview of Grand Hotel Therme. If you have any additional questions or comments, please let me know in the comment section below, and don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for reading,
Disclaimer: I want to thank Grand Hotel Therme for having us as guests as part of their campaign with ASTOM (the association of the owners of tourist online media in Bulgaria, of which Owl Over The World is a member of). As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you!