This sprawling, affordable Nordic spa is walking distance from Old Québec

Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec is a wellness campus on the bank of the St. Lawrence River. I spend a day at the Québec Nordic spa pampering myself and challenging my cold plunge endurance.

Strom Nordic Spa, Québec | A person sitting in a thermal bath at Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec

Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec: What is it

Whenever I visit a Québec Nordic spa, it always feels like there’s a distinctive “before” and “after.” I enter carrying tensions and anxieties I have no idea are there; after the hot and cold baths, I’m drained of all stress and feel like a new person.

It’s the pinnacle of 'reset and refresh' on vacation. So, when I return to the province in January, I book a visit to Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec. While I'll gladly recharge at the best spas in Ontario, there's something extra-special about soaking in heated tubs surrounded by the Québecois winter wonderland.

The last time I braved Québec's winter, I had my first Nordic experiences at Scandinave Spa Mont-Tremblant, and Nordik Spa-Nature Chelsea. Tucked away in nature, both wellness hubs are an escape from the city: Strøm, on the other hand, is only about a 25-minute walk from Old Québec City and Fairmont le Chatêau Frontenac.

That might conjure images of crowded hole-in-the-wall urban spas, but that’s far from the experience at Strøm. Since its founding in 2009, the chain of Québec spas has continued to grow to five locations across the province.

Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec: The experience

I walk about 25 minutes from my hotel in Old Québec to Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec. The muted, grey, block-ish buildings don't reveal anything inside, so my anticipation builds as I crunch up the snow-covered stairs to the entrance.

Strom Nordic Spa, Québec | The exterior of Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec

It's quite busy when I enter, and I'm initially concerned the crowds might impact my wellness experience. At Nordik Spa-Nature Chelsea, the lax chatting policy was my least favourite part, so I'm relieved to learn there's a no-talking rule here, and guests seem to take it seriously.

Check-in takes about five minutes; I make a rookie mistake and forget my sandals (which are mandatory in the wellness areas), so I purchase a pair at the front desk. I'm handed a robe, towel, and locker key on a wristband before being directed to the changeroom. 

Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec offers several different spa and thermal experience packages, which grant you access to the experiences across the campus. I sign up for the Thermal Experience, which means I'm free to roam all whirlpools, thermal and Nordic baths, steam baths, saunas and relaxation areas as I see fit. The experience starts at a quite wallet-friendly $64. The Laga flotation bath (the largest Epsom salt bath in North America) is an extra charge, as are the private massage therapy and beauty treatment sessions, so I skip those.

Strom Nordic Spa, Québec | The dry sauna at Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec

The multi-level Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec is enormous. Make sure you read the map before you start wandering around.

On one end, I follow a dimly lit indoor hallway that leads to a serene lazy river. The shallow stream drifts through a hidden passageway into a toasty relaxation chamber before finally snaking outdoors. Outside, the river billows clouds of steam into the cold air as it urges me along with underwater jets. I stuff two noodles under my arms to stay afloat, and allow the river to swirl me around as I sink into deep relaxation.

On the other side of the campus, a spacious thermal infinity pool looks out on the churning St. Lawrence River just a few metres away. It's a breathtaking, completely unobstructed view. When night falls, the vista turns even more picturesque; orange lights on the opposite bank twinkle, snowflakes tumble to the ground and chunks of ice slowly coast by on the water.

Strom Nordic Spa, Québec | A person sitting in the infinity pool at Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec

I spend around three hours silently scampering between five thermal baths, wincing in four cold plunges, panting in two unique dry saunas, exfoliating with salt rubs and mopping moisture off my skin in both aromatherapy steam baths. Eventually, I work up an appetite, so I tightly wrap myself in my robe and snag a table at Nord Restaurant, just steps from the main lobby.

Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec: Nord Restaurant

I've had mixed experiences with spa food before, so I was thrilled to find Nord Restaurant is well worth a visit. The Scandinavian dining room is peaceful, with a roaring fireplace in the centre and huge windows gazing out towards the Saint Lawrence River. My table's server is friendly, and happy to explain the menu in English or French.

Strom Nordic Spa, Québec | A plate of food at Nord Restaurant at Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec

Here, boreal-inspired cuisine is plated to jaw-dropping perfection. I wolf down the few vegetable-forward dishes I try, like an open-faced mushroom sandwich with vegan sunflower ricotta, a steaming side soup and the beetroot and blackcurrant chocolate crèmeux dessert. Everything feels healthy and nourishing, which is exactly what I want after pushing my body in Strøm's Nordic circuits. By the end of the meal, I'm fighting to keep my eyes open.

Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec: The verdict

Strom Nordic Spa, Québec | A person lounging in the relaxation area at Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec

Just minutes away from Old Québec, Strøm Nordic Spa's sprawling campus has enough wellness activities to keep you relaxed for hours. Even during peak hours, the no-talking policy means the atmosphere remains quiet enough to achieve deep levels of relaxation. With its St. Lawrence River vistas, twisting lazy river and excellent on-site food and drink, the spa feels like a wintery paradise. I, for one, can't wait to return.

Strøm Nordic Spa — Old Québec: Thermal experience; Starting at $64

Nord Restaurant: Dinner and drinks for two; about $100 before tax and tip


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