The Nordik Spa is Ottawa’s best luxury escape. It’s the perfect place to relax. Escape the hustle and bustle of city life on a day off, or unwind partway through a Canada vacation. Situated in the beautiful Gatineau Hills, the Nordik Spa is an expansive property with beautiful hot tubs, cascading waterfalls, infused saunas, and super-cozy bathrobes to wear while you enjoy it all.
I’ve visited the Nordik Spa many times over the pas few years, so I’ve gotten to know the place very well and have seen it expand. It’s grown to offer more and more beautiful spaces and experiences. There’s more to the Nordik Spa than soaking in hot tubs (although you can do that and only that if you want!) and lying in the sun.
The truth is relaxing isn’t always easy, but… the spa is the perfect place to be if you’re going to try. How, exactly? Well, glad you asked! I have here for you 12 ways to unwind at the Nordik Spa. Get ready to feel oh so very, very relaxed.
Visiting The Nordik Spa Ottawa / Chelsea
The Nordik Spa is a beautiful, spacious property in the Gatineau hills. While many visitors know it as Nordik Spa Ottawa, it’s actually in the small and charming Quebec town of Chelsea.
- The Nordik Spa is Open Year-Round: The best time to go is anytime and always! The spa is beautiful in every season. More areas are open in the summer, and the foliage of the Gatineau Hills is filled in. Come winter, the heat pools and hammocks are exactly where you’ll want to be. Winter at the Nordik Spa is magical!
- It’s a short drive from downtown Ottawa: the Nordik spa is only a 15 minute drive from downtown Ottawa. The best way to get there is by driving. There aren’t any bus routes that go up to Chelsea, so if you don’t have your own vehicle, take an Uber. It’s about $20 from the downtown.
- The spa is divided in to 3 sections: Kaskad, Borea, and Panorama. Every section has it’s own saunas, pools, and relaxation areas. The difference is the atmosphere in each area. Kaskad is completely silent, Borea is whispering, and Panorama is a more social zone where you and friends can talk.
- The Nordik Spa is the largest outdoor spa in North America: with ongoing expansions and recent additions addition new pools and relaxation areas, it’s too to hold this claim to fame!
Nordik Spa Prices and Hours
- Hours: Monday- Thursday 9 AM to 11 PM. Friday and Saturday 9 AM to midnight.
- Day pass: $65 Canadian/person.
- Treatments: Kalla treatment: $45 | Banya: $55 with a Day Pass, $65 if done separately. | Massages: starting at $105/hour. Details to come on what all of these treatments are!
What to Bring
- Bring your own sandals for walking between the pools and chalets.
- Make sure to bring sunscreen in the summer, and reapply as it will come off in the saunas.
- A book is always nice to have!
- Sunglasses. I was really glad to have mine with me for a summer visit.
- Bathrobes are available on site for $12 (they’re super comfy) or you can bring your own.
- Swim suit, of course!
- Clarifying shampoo to rinse any salts and oils from your hair at the end of the day.
As a blogger, I was given special permission to take photos at the Nordik Spa. Please know that photos are not permitted during regular operating hours.
12 Relaxing Nordik Spa Nature Experiences
I’ve visited the Nordik Spa a few times, and afterwards at least one person will always ask: “But what do you do there?” Fair question! I would love to tell you that you don’t do anything, you just… relax.
However, I know from personal experience that truly relaxing and letting go of the high demands of daily life is anything but easy. Disengaging and allowing yourself to relax is a process, and these are the Nordik Spa experiences that will get you there.
1. Experience the Nordik Spa Thermal Cycle
The Thermal Cycle is one of the most classic Nordik Spa experiences. There are 9 saunas, several cool pools, and many hot tubs and seating areas that you can choose from for this cycle. The Thermal Cycle is a thermo-therapy treatment, based on the 2000 year old Nordic tradition.
- Heat: begin with ~ 10 minutes in one of the saunas. Let yourself sweat, allowing your pores to open and your body to release toxins.
- Cold: briefly submerge yourself in cold water. This seals up your pores, and the shock of the cold causes your body to release adrenaline.
- Rest: find a place to rest for at least 20 minutes. Adrenaline secretion will slow down, and endorphin secretion increases. This is when the comfy, relaxed feeling kicks in.
2. Have a Massage in Nature
Massages are available outdoors in the summer, and indoors year round. Outdoors, wooden pavilions are nestled in the tree tops overlooking the spa. Book a Swedish, California, Deep Tissue, or Tonic Style massage Friday-Monday.
There are even more massage options indoors, any day of the week. Chair massages are also available outdoors, which are shorter in duration (25 minutes) and focus on one area of the body, like feet or neck.
3. Relax in a Hammock
There are several beautiful hammock areas at the Nordik Spa. The silent area of the spa, called Kaskad, has single-person hammocks that close up completely. It’s like having your own personal cocoon.
Visiting with friends or a significant other, and looking for a more social hammock? Make your way in to the trees at the back of the Panorama area, where a large 4 person suspended net hangs between the trees.
4. Invigorate Your Senses with the Aufguss Ritual
This is one of my favourite Nordik Spa experiences. The Aufguss ritual is a Finnish-inspired tradition that makes use of heat and infusions of scents. It’s exhilarating and cleansing at the same time, and you can go multiple times in a day.
The Aufguss ritual takes places in a sauna, which gets gradually hotter over 10-12 minutes. During the ritual, snowballs filled with different essential oils are placed on hot stones. When water is poured over the snow, the scents are released in to the air releasing vapours. The heat in the sauna opens the pours to release toxins from the body, which can then absorb the health-enhancing properties of the essential oils in the vapour moving through the air.
This rituals takes part ~ every 2 hours. It’s a little different every time, so if you enjoy it go again for a new experience.
5. Meditate in a Chalet
Within the Nordik Spa there are a couple of relaxation chalets. Lie down on a mat or settle in to a comfy chair, put headphones on, and tune out the world. There are over-ear headphones in these areas, and the option of calm music or meditation.
Take deep breathes, and let any thoughts that you might have float right on by.
6. Experience a Russian Sauna Ritual
The Nordik spa is a Scandinavian-inspired spa, and they offer treatments that draw on spa traditions from other parts of the world, too. The Finnish-inspired Aufguss ritual from #4 is one of my favourite Nordik Spa experiences, and I tried the Banya treatment for the first time on my most recent visit.
The Banya treatment is more intense than the Aufguss ritual. I recommend that you try the Aufguss ritual a couple times before Banya. This is a Russian-inspired treatment (inspired only, because in Russia there is apparently more alcohol and more heat) lasting one hour and consisting of 4 steps.
The treatment begins with a venik massage, where bunches of birch leaves soaked in essential oils are stroked over your skin. The next step is to exfoliate with mayan salts. My skin was the softest and healthiest-looking that I think it has ever been after this!
Finally, there is a beating using the venik leaves. A little unusual yes, but a great experience.
The treatment goes by very quickly. Our group was large and so it took 1 hour 40 minutes, as opposed to 1 hour. Listen to your body if you need a break, because you might not realize how long you’ve been in the sauna for.
7. Read in the Sun
It’s always nice to bring a book to Le Nordik. There are lots of nice places to curl up and read, especially if you’re visiting solo. Even if you’re visiting with a partner, you might find that at times you want to do different things.
My favourite spots to read within the Nordik Spa are Forest Beach, towards the back of the Kaskad area, and in the relaxation Chalet.
8. Stretch in the Yoga Studio
Once you’re relaxed and your muscles are warmed up from a soak in one of the heated pools, stretch your tension away.Right above the Banya sauna and overlooking the Boreal, whispering area of the spa is a beautiful yoga studio.
Mats are available, and there’s a water + tea station to help you stay hydrated.
9. Drink Cocktails in the Infinity Pool
This one is fun, and becomes increasingly popular are as day turns to night at the Nordik Spa. Order yourself a cocktail, microbrew, or glass of wine at Biergarden, the walk-up bar in Panorama, the social area.
Make your way in to the Nordik Spa’s infinity pool, drink in hand. The pool has a beautiful view looking out over the Gatineau hills.
10. Soak in Salt Water
Have a relaxing soak in the salt waters of Kalla, where 40 minutes of floating in the water is equivalent to 5 hours of sleep. That’s right, you can bank sleep (or make up for lost hours).
The high salt concentration in Kalla keeps you afloat. Laying back so that your ears are under the water, you can hear music. Allow yourself to drift through the pool.
Go early in the day, preferably before lunch. Kalla has a maximum capacity of 20 people, but it’s even more enjoyable with less. Come late afternoon, it does fill up and you may have to wait to gain access.
11. Have a Nap on a Heated Stone Bed
On my first visit to the Nordik Spa, I fell asleep on a heated stone beds in Tellura for 2 hours. I did not index to fall asleep, when I did it was glorious.
Tellura is a relaxation space, with heated stone beds made from quartz.
Find a place to lie down and drift off, be it a stone bed, hammock, or a comfy deck chair. We’ve all had moments of staring off in to the distance in our own homes – now embrace that feeling with no messages or Instagram notifications to distract you!
12. Come for a Special Event
The Nordik Spa is continually adding more events to their calendar. Monday paddle-boarding, Tuesday Girl’s Getaway, and Wednesday nights with a guitarist by the fire.
Paddle boarding takes place at a nearby lake, before returning to the spa for a soak in the pools. Girl’s Getaway includes a special menu, and on Wednesday night guitar music floats through the Panorama section. Check out the Nordik Spa events calendar to find out what else is on.
Dining at Nordik Spa-Nature
- Resto: this is my favourite dining option at the Nordik Spa for lunch or dinner. Appetizers, meals, and amazing desserts are offered.
My boyfriend and I repeated a favourite dessert from our last visit: the Xango. It’s like a fried dough wrapped around dolce de luche and cheese cake filling. If you only eat one thing on your visit, this is the one.
- Lounge Panorama: true to the atmosphere of Panorama, the Lounge Panorama is a great place to order sharing plates of cheeses and cold cuts.
- Biergarden: a walk-up restaurant also located in the Panorama area, Biergarden offers a long list of drink options and tacos!
- Mezz: lattes, morning juice, and pastries are at the Mezz, with seating overlooking the Borea area.
A big kudos to the Nordik Spa for using paper straws, too! We had smoothies with our lunch, and I was thrilled to discover the straw that came with it was recyclable.
There are a few spa etiquette rules to follow on your visit. These rules are in place to respect the privacy and experience of other visitors, as well as to create a more tranquil and relaxing environment for you.
- Phones and cameras are not permitted in the spa: leave your phone in your locker on your visit (as a blogger, I was given special permission to take photos before opening hours). People may not wish to be photographed, and it detracts from the disengaging environment of the spa. There are plenty of other beautiful places in Ottawa to take photographs in nature and with waterfalls!
- The spa is divided in to 3 zones: social, whispering, and silent. Respect these zones, as many visitors want to enjoy the silence and peace that Nordik Spa Nature offers. If you and your friends want to talk freely, the social area (Panorama) is very large, there is tons of space for this. Enjoy!