During the ‘golden age of Spa’ (1763–87), an astonishing 23,271 of the European elite, of whom 5,257 (22.5 per cent) were British, travelled to Spa in the independent bishopric of Liège, located in today’s southern Belgium. 1 Visitors were attracted to Spa’s health-giving waters, the recently developed leisure facilities that could be enjoyed in convivial, cosmopolitan and aristocratic company, and by the prospect of a short, safe journey that was interspersed with opportunities for cultural tourism. Travel to Spa has been largely ignored by historians in favour of the Grand Tour to Paris and Italy. However, on average a noteworthy 210 Britons visited Spa during its short three-month summer season compared to the estimated 1,000 Britons who visited Paris each full year. 2 As such it exemplifies a pattern of travel that was clearly distinguishable from the Grand Tour, and yet has received little scholarly attention. Jeremy Black, for example, promises ‘to devote due attention to tourism outside the parameters set by travel to Paris and Italy’; only four out of 365 pages of his study, however, are devoted to Spa. 3 Continental historians, such as Kees van Strien, have covered British travel in northern Europe but only up to 1720, which unfortunately excludes the dramatic expansion of Spa after 1763. 4 And although local Spa historian Albin Body (1836–1916) wrote extensively about the city and the activities of its visitors, he did not cover the journey to Spa and his works are now dated. 5