Thermae Boetfort Belgian Spa near Brussels

By alison - June 30, 2010 (Updated: January 5, 2016)

Chilling at the spa

Chilling at the spa – image by duchessa

It’s been blistering hot in Brussels for the past week or so. Although I love to see the sun, after melting in my 30+ degree living-room, I was ready to cool off. Fighting for a square inch of sand on the Belgian coast didn’t appeal and we’ve decided not to renew our gym membership, so the pool was out. Wondering where I could escape the heat on Saturday, I realised we hadn’t been to a Belgian spa in over a year.

Since it was after 5pm, driving toThermes de Spa didn’t make sense, but we could easily get to Grimbergen spa for the evening. I did a quick check on their website and discovered they opened a brand new spa in May.  Knowing I have a duty to investigate all things new and exciting in Belgium for you loyal readers, I packed my towel and swimsuit and headed to the Thermae Boetfort.

If you’ve never been to a Belgian spa, you’d be forgiven for wondering how this activity was going to help me battle the heat. Unlike their North American counterparts, spas in Belgium aren’t only focused on massages and facials. Although these typical spa treatments are available, the main feature in a Belgian spa is the thermal pool.

You pay a daily rate and have at your disposal: swimming pools, Jacuzzis, saunas, steam rooms and the like. They are great places to relax and unwind without the distractions of computers and mobile phones.

Having enjoyed the Grimbergen spa on many occasions, I had high expectations for their new venture. Thermae Boetfort did not disappoint.

A Visit to Thermae Boetfort

Pulling into the parking area, you are met with the view of the 400 year old castle Boetfort. It was built by Henricus Madoets, a wealthy inhabitant of Brussels, as a country estate. Now, the castle itself serves as the spa’s restaurant. But, more on that later.

The beautiful reception area was a good indication of what was to come. We registered and were given waterproof wristbands. These activate your locker in the changing area and are also scanned if you purchase anything at the restaurant so you don’t need to worry about cash while in the spa area. We crossed the garden and descended into the very large and modern changing area in the basement of the castle.

Like Grimbergen, Boetfort spa is separated into two areas: one for visitors who prefer to wear bathing-suits, and one for visitors who prefer to go naked. Being prudish North Americans, we always opt for the bathing-suit side, although I keep saying one day I will be brave enough to be truly European. It’s unlikely to happen anytime before I’m 80.

Exiting the basement toward the spa level, you first arrive at the steam-room. It is very spacious, has seating on two levels and is filled with eucalyptus scented steam.

Just relax - photo by rjuliana

Just relax – photo by rjuliana

As you continue upstairs, you emerge into a large light-filled room with lounge chairs. The windows overlook the pool and terrace, which is also filled with lounge chairs; a perfect spot for sunbathing. From this room you can exit via several doors onto the terrace or descend directly into the pool. The pool isn’t large like the one at Thermes de Spa, but it’s adequate for a dip to cool off. The terrace area is spacious and the lounge chairs are comfortable.

On the terrace there is a small, round, wooden building we called the hobbit house. Inside it was an Infrared sauna. I didn’t find it terribly warm or interesting but it could be a nice way to warm up on a colder day.

Also on the terrace are two Jacuzzis. These were comfortable and just the right temperature.

Back inside the spa building are more interesting areas to discover. There is a large traditional sauna equipped with coloured light therapy lights. Nearby is a large semi-circular foot-bath with heated benches; a comfortable spot to relax.

Heading upstairs into a loft area, there is a relaxation room with mats and pillows on the floor. Beyond it, there is a second sauna called the music sauna. This uses the loft space in an interesting way. Instead of flat benches like a traditional sauna, the wood here is moulded into a recliner-like seat, making it very comfortable.

My favourite spot however was the Relaxation Bath. This salty pool is located in what looks like an old wine cellar. The moulded pool has comfortable seating and a deeper area for floating. It is cozy and dark with changing coloured lights – it definitely lives up to its name.

If you get peckish from all the effort you spend relaxing, there is a beautiful restaurant in the ground floor of the castle. It seemed a bit odd to be sitting in such stately surroundings in my bathrobe, but it certainly felt decadent. There is also a terrace where food and drinks are served, if you prefer to enjoy the sun.

I haven’t yet sampled any of the additional services at Thermae Boetfort (or the nudist side of the spa) but if they match the level of quality I experienced during my visit, I’m sure they are superb. It seems as if the owners of Grimbergen spa took everything that worked, and improved on everything that didn’t to create a new and even better place to relax.

Located near the Zaventem airport, in the village of Melsbroek, it was a quick drive from the city and one that I will be sure to make again soon.

Thermae Boetfort
Sellaerstraat 42
B – 1820 Melsbroek
Tel.: +32 (0)2 759.81.9

Open every day from 10.30am until 12pm

Have you visited Thermae Boetfort or another Belgian spa? Tell me about it in the comments.

For more great castle articles, be sure to visit our Castles in Belgium page where you’ll find links to all of the castles in our little country.

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Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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  1. Comment by Unexpected Traveller

    Unexpected Traveller June 30, 2010 at 13:46

    Wow – I had no idea that there was something like this so close to home and will definitely take advantage of it at some point. I like that you can get a day pass/ticket as that makes lots of sense, I think.

    We have tried the spa and thermal baths in Aachen which are fabulous. Naturally heated water (and a slight smell of sulphur at times) and a few well placed jets means that you can have a water based massage and a day-long soak. Last time we were there was around Easter time last year and as we were in the outdoor pool it started snowing! The water is around 37 degrees so we barely noticed the air temperature was a lot less. It was very surreal to be in a pool, outside, in our swimming trunks in the snow!

    • Comment by Alison


      Alison June 30, 2010 at 14:04

      Oh wow! I’ve not been to the spa in Aachen. We’ll have to check that out. We’ve been to Thermes de Spa a few times in the snow and it’s really a unique experience. Watching the steam rise from the hot pool is kind of magical. Grimbergen and Boetfort are both great but Boetfort is definitely more spacious and modern. You should certainly check it out.

  2. Comment by Andrew


    Andrew July 1, 2010 at 13:00

    It is a great space… feels a lot more open than Grimbergen… I also thought the different saunas were interesting, although they do need a cold, plunge pool like Grimbergen! 🙂

    What I like most about both Boetfort and Grimbergen is that they also pay attention to the food they offer. That always disappointed me about Thermes de Spa… great facility with a cafeteria menu. It might be weird sitting in the Boetfort restaurant in your bath robe, but at least you’ll have good food and drinks!

  3. Comment by Alison


    Alison July 1, 2010 at 13:07

    Yes absolutely. I’m still baffled by the food at Spa… just a great facility, such bad food. Grimbergen and Boetfort have done it well.

  4. Comment by Laura

    Laura July 2, 2010 at 11:06

    I was surprised to find that my work mates consider me insane for not going naked in a sauna. When I referred to someone who had been talking about naked saunas I received a blank look and a comment of ‘what other kind of sauna is there?’.

    Umm, the English kind… I guess. I think I would have been thrown out of my gym in England if I’d stripped off!

    • Comment by Alison


      Alison July 2, 2010 at 11:49

      It’s really funny how wide a cultural divide there is in the whole naked/non-naked thing eh? I love that these spas cater to both so everyone can be comfortable.

  5. Comment by Amy

    Amy July 10, 2010 at 18:33

    I was wondering, are the men required to wear speedos or can they wear regular swim trunks?

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison July 12, 2010 at 10:32

      Nope, unlike the public pools in Belgium, speedos are not required (thank God). One of the reasons we hit the spas and not the pools is because Andrew flat out refuses the speedo 🙂

  6. Comment by N

    N July 23, 2010 at 09:22

    I love to go to the spa in Londerzeel (just outside the Brussels’ ring on the A12 direction Antwerp). They have a big outdoor garden with a lovely heated pool, the restaurant and the service are great!
    This is their website:
    One “minor detail” : it’s only naked…Just take the plunge, I’d say!

    • Comment by Alison


      Alison July 26, 2010 at 10:39

      I think I have to make a resolution to just do it… Maybe I’ll be brave when we get back from our Canada trip and reassert my new Euro-self 🙂

  7. Comment by Nancy

    Nancy July 26, 2010 at 04:05

    My husband and I spent two delightful nights at Thermae Boetfort. We could not have been more pleased. The cost is very reasonable. The room was nicely decorated with all the amenities you need. The food at the restaurant was well prepared and presented – no complaints – and it was great to relax and eat in your robe. I guess we are not typical Americans because we truly enjoy the natural section of the spa. It is so relaxing. I recommend you give it a try. This spa is a gem. We have been to many -mostly in The Netherlands – and have moved this one near to the top of the list. It is very new – only opened in May – so it is spotless. The staff is very friendly and fluent in English – always a help. So, go and relax. You deserve it.

    • Comment by Alison


      Alison July 26, 2010 at 10:36

      Glad you enjoyed it Nancy! I will definitely be going back again myself. We haven’t yet tried any of the spas in the Netherlands but perhaps we should give them a go as well.

  8. Comment by Clive

    Clive August 15, 2010 at 00:41

    Just back from Boetfort, it’s pretty good. I agree with Alison that the relaxation pool in the cellars is great, a wonderful space to relax. I enjoyed creating some waves and watching the reflection of the light on the ceiling change! And the light sauna is good too, maybe I just like lights!
    The ‘other’ side is also good, the steam bath is huge, and the two upsatirs sauna’s (stable – with various horsey stuff like saddles in- really interesting!) and Eucalyptus are super. I also enjoyed the Aufguss, sure I’ve spelt that incorrectly, sessions. Swimming pool is 3x the size and 3 jacuzzis are great for relaxation.
    There was also hardly anyone there, I guess it’s the holiday season which could explain that and also maybe people are not aware of it being there. Maybe if you want to try the non swimsuit side initially now is a good time; if you keep to the saunas you have a good chance to be alone and with judicious use of towels preserve your modesty without seeming to be unusual. Like all of us I was nervous the first time, I think it helps to remember everyone else is the same and for the vast majority of the time people are wearing the bath robes / towels. I think visiting both sides if by far the best to get the best of each.

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