Engel Ayurpura: experience peak relaxation in this Ayurvedic hotel in the Dolomites

Looking for a relaxing break with a difference? – say hello to Engel Ayurpura, the only dedicated Ayurvedic hotel in the Italian Dolomites

Hotel Engel Ayurpura exterior with outdoor pool and dolomites landscape

I hadn’t been to Italy for a while which made this trip all the more precious, and there’s certainly something uplifting about putting an ‘out of office’ on and packing your bags for seven days away.

I would be staying high in the mountains of Southern Tyrol, not far from Bolzano, to revive and reset.

Nestled in the alpine village of Nova Levante in the remote Val d’Ega, the recently-opened hotel Engel Ayurpura was my home for the week.

Hearth in reception
The stunning hearth in the hotel’s reception. Photo © Amanda Robinson

Settling in

Arriving in the evening meant we saw little of the hotel’s exterior other than a chalkboard in the lobby with a cheery handwritten welcome, but the reception was sleek wood and spacious with book-lined walls, deep armchairs and a flickering open fire radiating warmth which wrapped weary travellers in its cosy embrace.

The bedrooms are all on the upper floors, with fifteen rooms in total that can be booked as singles or doubles, including one sumptuous loft suite and two smaller ones – each with a freestanding bath and private sauna.

My room was equally welcoming: a calm, modern expanse in neutral, harmonious tones and a heated wooden floor.

I slid under the crisp linen sheets on the bed and closed my eyes…

A double room at the Engel Ayrupura. Photo © Tiberio Sorvillo

Sleeping in on that first morning meant I missed early morning yoga (daily at 7.30am – I went on all the other days…), but I wanted to soak up the ambiance of my room, newly revealed in daylight.

Bare feet warmed by the underfloor heating, I walk a few steps across the wooden floor and fling back the heavy curtains to flood the room with light.

I am met by a Narnia-like panorama of steeply wooded slopes covered in frosty snow against a searing blue sky.

Drinking in this spectacular natural vista, I feel my computer-hunched shoulders soften and my heart lift.

All the rooms have floor to ceiling windows which lead out to private sundecks, complete with loungers and a table – there are even soft throws to cosy up in when the temperatures dip.

The mellow reclaimed timber and glass structure is super-modern and yet blends comfortably into its spectacular mountain setting – its angular roof line mirroring the jagged crags of the nearby Rosengarten massif.

The floor to ceiling windows draw the outside in and allow guests to feel at one with this unique UNESCO Heritage scenery whatever the weather, season or time of day.

Balcony view from hotel bedroom
The rooms boast stunning views. Photo © Amanda Robinson

Ayurvedic therapy in the Dolomites

After the first breakfast, each new guest has a private consultation with Dr Mishra, currently the only Ayurveda physician in Italy, who heads up the team of Ayurvedic practitioners and therapists at the hotel.

After a general introduction to Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine, the doctor assesses my current state of well-being through a simple pulse diagnosis.

The Ayurvedic practitioners at Engel Ayurpura apply its holistic, healthy principles to a variety of treatment programmes designed to restore balance to your vital life forces (known as the vata, pitta, and kapha in Ayurvedic medicine).

And this is my starting point too, as Dr Mishra draws up an individually created treatment, diet and exercise programme for my week which includes herbal teas, massages, yoga classes and meditation – as well as encouragement to make good use of the Spa and swimming pools, plus a little outdoor exercise.

And so begins my stay at Engel Ayurpura…

statue in yoga studio
The hotel’s yoga studio is an Oasis of calm. Photo © Amanda Robinson

Cocooned in this oasis of calm, each day begins with yoga, the view of the early morning dawn breaking over the snow-crested Dolomite peaks as much of a mediation as the gentle awakening of our limbs.

In the Spa, a mix of treatments each day, two at a time, inducing a relaxed or energised state depending on the focus, were delivered by the charming, professional Samera, an Ayurvedic practitioner for more than 20 years.

These ranged from full body massages to the most blissful Shirodhara, where a steady stream of warm herb-infused oil plays across the forehead to release stress, calm the nervous system and aid relaxation.

Food and drink at the Engel Ayurpura

You know the saying ‘you are what you eat’? Well, what is served to you here in the stunningly Bond-esque restaurant is an extension of Engel Ayurpura’s nurturing ethos – true food for the soul.

It offers creative and colourful dishes based around fresh vegetables, fruit, legumes with fish and eggs for added protein – all according to your individually tailored menu in line with the recommendations of Dr Mishra.

A breakfast buffet of porridges, poached fruits and broths ease us into the day, with lunch as the main meal, as this is when the digestive fire (Agni in Ayurvedic teaching) is at its most efficient, followed by a lighter supper to end the day.

Lunch at the engel ayurpura
A wholesome lunch. Photo © Amanda Robinson

Food and drink is always served warm, again to aid digestion. Nourishing soups and meals are infused with gentle spices and herbs such as coriander, turmeric, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon.

I enjoyed inventive dishes such as spring roll with spiced vegetable and lentil hummus, Ayurveda consommé with herbs, buckwheat with mixed vegetables, courgette millefeuilles with basil pesto and tomato sauce, spinach timbale with brown mustard, turmeric and tomato chutney.

Head chef Claudio Denti, from Sardinia, clearly has a passion for Ayurvedic cooking and even shared some of his culinary secrets with us in a cookery class one afternoon – without a plate of pasta in sight!

Facilities and attractions in and around the hotel Engel Ayurpura

Rest and relaxation comes first during your stay, and you’re spoilt for choice with a relaxation room and tea bar, panoramic sundeck overlooking the outdoor salt-water pool (heated!) and state-of-the-art sauna.

The rooftop relaxation area has infrared heated loungers from which to watch the crags of the Rosengarten mountain range turn pink in the setting sun – and you can join a simple meditation class most evenings.

infrared beds on panoramic terrace
Luxurious heated loungers on the terrace provide beautiful panoramic views day and night. Photo © Tiberio Sorvillo

While vigorous exercise isn’t encouraged during this gentle cure, do step outside and follow local footpaths which gently wind their way along the slopes above the village (crampons and sticks provided for the snow), or venture further afield to nearby Bolzano with a complimentary bus pass from the hotel to discover a bustling metropolis with a medieval centro storico at its heart.

Gateway to the Dolomites, the city is surrounded by hills rising further to the snow-capped mountains beyond.

Don’t miss the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology with Otzi the Neolithic Iceman on display and Duomo Maria Assunta, rebuilt after significant WWII bomb damage in the magnificent Walther Piazza.

Another bus route will take you up to Lake Carezza in the Val d’Ega valley with its emerald green waters and gentle alpine trail.

Bolzano Duomo
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore nearby Bolzano, Photo © Amanda Robinson

Reset and restore at the Engel Ayurpura

Surrounded by such natural beauty and alongside the spa treatments, the opportunity to focus on yourself becomes easy, aided by the kindly staff and their gentle encouragement – you can even ask them for a special ‘Silent’ badge if you would rather keep yourself to yourself.

A final consultation with Doctor Mishra confirmed that balance was restored, but I felt it already, inside and out.

If your day-to-day has become a treadmill, spending time in this calm and nurturing environment will ignite the embers of your self care as well as boosting your physical well-being.

Rather than a focus on cutting out the ‘bad things’, whatever that means to you, a more restorative frame of mind is able to embrace the joy of downtime, a digital detox, good food, meditation and gentle exercise – and by the time you leave this heavenly spot in the Dolomites, the tangible benefits will inspire you to continue.

view of snowy valley
It would be hard not to feel relaxed when surrounded by so much natural beauty. Photo © Amanda Robinson

Hotel details

Hotel Engel Ayurpura

Via S. Valentino, 5, South Tyrol, 39056
The Engel Ayurpura also has on-site parking and electric charging points.

The Rasayana programme at Engel Ayurpura

The Rasayana programme’s aim is to slow down the ageing process and strengthen the immune system. The medicinal oils ensure a clear complexion, suppleness of the skin and strengthening of the body and includes:

  • 7 nights and 6 cure days with 12 treatments
  • Ayurvedic full board
  • Consultation & pulse diagnosis
  • 12 Treatments according to individual consultation
  • Yoga & Meditation as per weekly programme
  • Access to the SPA and swimming pool

The Rasayana is the 7 Day Fountain of Youth programme from €1,925 per person. Double rooms from €230 per person per night. Other programmes are available, check the website for details.

Engel ayurpura hotel rooms exterior view
The hotel rooms at the Engel Ayurpura are spacious and comfortable. Photo © Tiberio Sorvillo

Getting to the Engel Ayurpura

It couldn’t be easier with SkyAlps as the airline now operates twice-weekly flights from London Gatwick to Bolzano with flights starting from €184 each way.

Engel Ayurpura is only half an hour’s drive from Bolzano Airport.

In addition, Verona and Innsbruck Airports are 1¾ and 2 hours’ drive respectively.

By rail the journey from London St Pancras to Bolzano is 14 hours with a 20 minute electric taxi ride to the hotel.

Want to try something a little more adventurous while you’re here? Read about skiing in the Dolomites

Featured photo © Tiberio Sorvillo

Words by Amanda Robinson