Shanti-Som review | holistic hideaway, Spain
A boutique hilltop health hotel in Spain
The Quick Read: Shanti-Som is a peaceful, boutique health hotel in a remote location about a 45 minute drive from Malaga airport. Come and enjoy a spot of healthy B&B, or book from a choice of rolling wellbeing packages throughout the year which focus on weight loss, yoga or detoxing. The hotel’s decor and architecture is inspired by the Far East, with landscaped outdoor areas and tasteful Buddhist-inspired artworks. Expect healthy food in the restaurant, and rooms which are comfortable enough to hang out in. The hotel is not overloaded with activities, though there are twice daily yoga classes, personal training and stretching, and the option of adding luxurious health-promoting treatments. A well situated outdoor pool will satisfy those who just want to relax beneath the Spanish sun. Shanti-Som also offers day yoga and spa packages for people not staying at the hotel. For an immersive yogic experience, Destination Yoga runs a few retreats here.
More on the wellbeing B&B: You can just come and stay here on a B&B or half board basis to relax and recharge at your own pace alone or with a friend.
There are twice daily yoga classes you can drop in on at extra cost, and luxurious health-promoting treatments (which you should book in advance). You can also book a personal trainer and private stretching classes.
Enjoy a very peaceful atmosphere and a well situated pool with views of the surrounding countryside. There are a couple of local hikes – the staff can advise you on routes – but if you want to venture further afield you’ll need a car. It’s about a 20 minute ride into the local bustling town of Marbella if you fancy a day out.
More on the wellbeing programmes: There are three main packages on offer at Shanti-Som which you can book on a rolling basis all year round: 3 or 6 day Detox or Weight Loss packages, and 6 day Yoga packages. For people close to burnout, there is a 6 day one-to-one package called Journey into Healing, which will include treatments and activities tailored to your needs. Read a word from the queen on her stay.
More on the detox retreats: Shanti-Som’s detox retreats aim to eliminate toxins from your body, promising that you will leave brighter and lighter. The programme includes four fresh juices a day, one broth, and one enema as well as additional nutritional support with supplements. You also get a daily yoga class, plus a session with the resident nutritionist who will give you some guidelines for eating healthily once back at home. Average weight loss from the detox is 2.5 kilos. Juices and broths are all taken at set times in the hotel’s spacious and bright lounge, avoiding the awkwardness of having to watch diners in the restaurant enjoying their three course meals.
More on the weight loss retreats: All weight loss retreats are personalised to your needs, with an initial phone consultation with one of the team to ensure the programme meets your goals. You’ll be asked to follow a pre-retreat cleanse menu before you come and you also receive your own diet programme and fitness programme to take home with you.
The six night weight loss retreats include three yoga classes, five personal training sessions (either alone or shared) in the small gym and two guided hikes. You’ll also follow a special weight loss menu, which includes three meals a day plus two snacks. The three night ‘Turbo Weight Loss’ retreat follows a similar pattern for those who have less time, and still includes personal trainer sessions, a hike, nutritional coaching and two yoga classes.
More on the Journey into Healing: This 6 night break is aimed at those on the edge of burnout and who need a more personalised tailor-made detox. It includes daily meditation, yoga, two chakra energy balance sessions, one-to-one talks on topics including the laws of yoga, using food as medicine and Ayurveda, two massages and daily walks.
More on the yoga retreats: You can drop into yoga classes here if you’re staying on a B&B basis for extra cost, or book for a full six night yoga retreat. The latter includes ten yoga classes over the week, plus full board with set meals from the restaurant.
There are a number of different teachers at Shanti Som, so there will be a variety of styles included during your week, including (but not exclusively) hatha and Kundalini. All classes are pitched to a mixed ability class, recognising that there will be some complete beginners there as well as more practiced yogis.
There are also specialist yoga weeks with visiting teachers at Shanti-Som – check out those run here by Destination Yoga.
More on the yoga: Yoga classes take place every morning before breakfast (usually at around 9 until 10.30) and in the late afternoon – in the summer, on the outdoor (but covered) wooden yoga pavilion, in the winter, in an indoor room which is cozy and designed for about 12. Teachers vary according to who is available. Mourad specialises in Kundalini yoga. On our visit, we found him to be a very likeable teacher, with a gentle sense of humour and a great deal of patience for the three Kundalini novices in his class. Natalie offers hatha and vinyasa classes, and Lyma specialises in vinyasa, hatha and ashtanga styles. Throughout the week, you’re likely to experience classes with at least two of the teachers. Ashtanga classes tend to be offered on request, with most of the classes being either hatha or Kundalini.
More on the therapies: Shanti-Som has an extensive therapy menu which includes a range of therapeutic massage, healing therapies such as foot healing and reiki, wraps and scrubs using products made in-house from natural ingredients, and more mainstream Guinox Hydradermie facials and beauty treatments. Many of the therapists have worked at Shanti-Som for years and live locally.
Therapies all cost extra, and you’ll be advised on which treatments might be more appropriate for the programme you’re booked on. Be sure to book in advance before you arrive, as on our visit we assumed this had been done but was not and there was only a 30 minute slot left.
More on the spa facilities: Shanti-Som has a beautiful (though unheated) outdoor pool, a small and limited gym area (there are plans to include more equipment) and a spacious sauna and steam room. There are a few small treatment rooms in the spa area, and a bright waiting and relaxing room. The generic spa music which plays in the restaurant also plays down at the spa – ask them to turn it down if you find it irritating (as we did on our visit).
More on the property: Shanti-Som is perched on a hill, with beautiful views of Sierra de las Nieves from most of the property. The purpose built retreat has taken the best of Oriental and Balinese style, married it with ecological principles and brought it bang up to date with luxurious modern conveniences.
There is a landscaped outdoor area, and a small organic garden, and places to sit in the partially covered courtyard. Stone statues, water features and Buddhas are peppered around the property.
Hung on the walls inside the hotel are a number of Buddhist inspired artworks in muted earthy colours by Alejandro Herman, and many items of furniture have been sourced directly from Indonesia or Thailand.
The main communal lounge area is at the front of the hotel, where you’ll find a range of seated areas with huge sofas that you can sink into, wicker chairs and coffee tables, and a small library of books for you to read. On chillier evenings out of season there’s a lovely oversized, semi-circular sofa in front of a roaring log fire. There is wifi in this area for those who want to stay connected during their week.
More on the bedrooms: There are just 14 suites available at Shanti-Som. All have a private outdoor area – half with their own balcony, and half with their own garden – a decent sized ensuite bathroom, and a flat screen TV. They are individually designed, using different coloured soft furnishings co-ordinated with cream or beige wall colours to create atmosphere, so no two rooms are identical in theme or colour. Two larger suites have four poster beds and have more storage area, bigger bathrooms and a larger balcony or terrace.
Food and drink: You eat in a small restaurant and bar area which overlooks the main courtyard and where you can sit indoors or out. The indoor area is more formal – and functions as an ordinary restaurant for people not staying at the hotel. There is also pool service available if you can’t be bothered to go back into the hotel for a drink. It costs an extra euro for pool service. If you’re here alone, there is a shared table in the restaurant for single travellers who wish to mingle – ask them to point it out to you as this wasn’t obvious on our visit.
There are set mealtimes at Shanti-Som, with two time slots for dinner. What you eat will depend on what package you’ve booked onto. Those on detox weeks are limited to juices – which they take in the lobby/lounge area and an evening broth. While people using the venue as hotel or those on yoga retreats have a choice of starters and mains at both lunch and dinner, with dessert or coffee also offered in the evenings.
The food is healthy and light, not wildly inventive but tasty, and there are vegetarian and meat-based dishes at most meals. Breakfast buffet includes tomatoes, meats, cheeses, fresh fruit, yoghurt and muesli. For a main meal, expect something like hummus with crudités followed by a healthy stir fry, or fish with vegetables. Wine is available – unless you’re on a detox or weight loss package that is! Full board includes two drinks – soft drinks, beer or wine. Those on a weight loss package should expect a similar style of food, but specifically designed to aid weight loss.
Fellow guests: Shanti-Som attracts guests from all over Europe, but mainly women in their thirties upwards wanting a break from their family or corporate jobs. The majority book on 6 night packages, with detox being one of the most popular. Although many guests do come alone, others come with friends or family. The rolling nature and variety of packages on offer means that not everyone is on the same timetable or programme. For this reason, Shanti-Som won’t suit people travelling alone who are looking for a more group-based retreat or programme. However, camaraderie with the others on the juicing/detox programme is still present.
What’s lowly: The continual piped music in the lobby and restaurant may not be to everyone’s taste. If you don’t book your therapies in advance, you’re likely not to be able to have one.
Getting there: Fly to Malaga airport, from where it’s a 45 minute drive to Shanti-Som. Transfers can be arranged through Shanti Som for around €53 each way.
For UK readers, many of the low cost airlines fly to Malaga airport for under £200 including taxes and hold luggage. Try Jet2, Monarch or Ryan Air. It’s about a 20 minute ride into the local bustling town of Marbella if you fancy a day out – a taxi costs about €20 – €25 (£16 – £20) each way.
Costs: Rooms cost from €191 (£155) per person alone or €134 (£108) for two people per night for half board (bed and breakfast and either lunch or dinner). A Junior suite costs €301 (£244) for a room alone or €172 (£140) for a room for two.
The 3 night Turbo Detox costs from €941/€785 (£764/£637) per person and includes two yoga classes, juices and broths, use of facilities and a healthy breakfast on your day of departure.
The 6 night Detox Retreat costs from €2,066/€1,751(£1,677/£1421) per person and includes six nights accommodation, a pre-detox dinner, five days of juices and broths, a daily yoga class, and use of facilities.
The 3 night Turbo Weight Loss Retreat costs from €1093/€901 (£887/£761) per person and includes 3 nights full board, with healthy meals designed to help you lose weight, two yoga classes, a hike, personal trainer sessions and nutritional coaching sessions.
The 6 night Weight Loss Retreat costs from €2,346 to €1946 (£1904/£1579) per person and includes six nights accommodation, five days full board of meals designed to help you lose weight, three yoga classes, two guided walks, five personal trainer classes and use of facilities.
The Journey into healing costs from €2,280 (£1851) per person for an intensive one-to-one programme which includes accommodation, all meals, daily meditation, yoga, two chakra energy balance sessions, one-to-one talks on topics including the laws of yoga, using food as medicine and Ayurvedic framework, two massages and daily walks.
The Shanti-Som Yoga Retreat costs from €1,590 (single occupancy) or €1,260 (shared) (£1,291/£1,023) and includes six nights accommodation, five days full board, ten yoga classes, and use of hotel facilities.
Massages cost from €50 (£40) for half an hour to €90 (£73) for an hour, depending on the type of massage.
A 90 min eastern slimming massage costs €120 (£97) for example, while facials cost €40 (£32) for thirty minutes and €60 (£48) for an hour.
Reviewed by Ruth Rosselson
© Queen of Retreats