If you’re looking for a winter warmer holiday, how does 44°C sound? Because that’s the top water temperature we’re talking about at these spa holiday destinations. These 10 locations all take spas and relaxation seriously. From a long soak in Iceland’s blissful Blue Lagoon to bathing in Bath’s naturally heated waters or being scrubbed and polished with a traditional hamam in exotic Marrakech. It’s time to treat yourself.
Budapest established its reputation as the ‘City of Spas’ in 1934. Széchenyi is one of the largest baths in Europe and includes year-round outdoor pools as well as indoor. They also host disco nights during the summer. Gellért Baths are among the most luxurious, with an elegant Art Nouveau interior.
For an oh-so-surreal spa session you’ll need to make your way to Pamukkale in Turkey. Translating as ‘cotton castle’ these calcium-coated pools filled with natural hot spring water have been a bathing spot for centuries. Fly into nearby Denizli, or you can join an excursion from a holiday in Izmir.
Take time out of Marrakech’s vibrant souks with a visit to a Moroccan hamam. Neighbourhood hamams work out incredibly cheap, but you may want to opt for a more spa-like private hamam for your steam and scrub. For an extra luxurious treat some upmarket places will offer an argan oil massage afterwards.
Iceland is blessed with a LOT of volcanically heated water – it even heats the pavements! The Blue Lagoon, 50-minutes outside of Reykjavik, is the main spa attraction, with unreal blue-hued revitalising waters. But there are more heated public pools in town – Laugardalslaug is one of the biggest with a 50-metre pool and five ‘hot pots’.
Bathing in hot spring water at an onsen is so popular in Japan that it’s impossible to choose just one location! Hakone is a traditional onsen resort near Mount Fuji and Shibu onsen is famed for the nearby bathing snow monkeys. You’ll even find onsen in the heart of Tokyo or any other city.
6. The Dead Sea
The Dead Sea is so full of salt (over nine times more than the ocean) that no animals can live in it. But that hasn’t stopped it drawing visitors – it’s one of the world’s first health resorts. Float in the extra buoyant water, try natural mineral treatments and explore the unique salt-crystal landscape.
Enjoy an authentic Turkish bath in Istanbul. The city is full of historic architecture from the Blue Mosque to the Hagia Sofia, and the baths are no exception. Steam in Ottoman surroundings at Cagaloglu Hamam, established in 1741, or Çemberlitas, dating in parts from 1584
Historically the best of British bathing was found at the beautiful spa town of Bath. Marvel at the remains of the grand ancient Roman baths, still filled with steaming spring water daily. To take a dip yourself, head to Thermae Bath Spa – Britain’s only natural thermal spa.
9. Montecatini Terme
You’ll be spoilt with spas all over Tuscany, but it’s the town of Montecatini Terme that has received most acclaim, as well as the most prestigious guests over the years, from European royalty to Puccini. The waters are said to be good for both drinking and bathing – so you’ll find exquisite fountains alongside ornate spas.
Treat yourself to a relaxing Thai massage, or seven, at spa haven Phuket. This tropical paradise is home to some of the world’s most exclusive spas, but if you’re on a tighter budget you’ll find plenty of skilled masseuses setting up tables on the beach. The relaxing wave soundtrack comes for free.