Humankind has long tapped into the curative powers of hot springs, geothermally heated pools filled with mineral-dense waters emerging from subterranean volcanic aquafers. For the modern voyager, there’s nothing sweeter than taking advantage of these natural wonders after a long day of travel and discovery. Here are eight spectacular spas, from Switzerland to New Mexico, worth traveling to for a therapeutic, detoxifying soak.
Set atop the only thermal springs in Graubünden Canton, this sunken mountainside spa was conceived by legendary architect Peter Zumthor using 60,000 quartzite slabs sourced from local quarries. The retreat has since been incorporated into the 7132 Therme hotel, with new guestrooms designed by a roster of other powerhouse architects including Kengo Kuma and Thom Mayne.
The Castle Hot Springs resort taps into the mineral-rich thermal waters beneath Arizona’s Bradshaw Mountains, which have long been revered by indigenous communities for their restorative potential. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, these ancient springs are the main draw at this luxe all-inclusive, which recently added new Spring Bungalows and SkyView Cabins to its accommodations.
Located on volcanic São Miguel Island, the boutique hotel and spa Octant Furnas sits inside a lush valley pockmarked by steam-spewing fumaroles and geysers. This unique landscape remains the cornerstone of the guest experience, from the extensive spa offerings and 24-hour heated pools to restaurant À Terra, which spotlights dishes cooked inside nearby hot springs.
Surrounded by the verdant mountains of Karuizawa, one of Japan’s most cherished spa towns, this upscale ryokan can be reached in just an hour by bullet train from Tokyo. Guests are granted access to the famous Tombo-no-yu onsen, as well as multiple onsite soaking pools for meditation.
Italy’s Saturnia Springs, a postcard-worthy clutch of cascading travertine pools in the undulating hills of Tuscany, has existed since well before the Etruscan era. While the baths themselves are free to access, opt for an overnight stay at the nearby Terme di Saturnia Natural Spa & Golf Resort to enjoy a grand menu of delicious spa treatments.
An entrance fee of 20,000 Chilean Pesos (28 USD) is all that’s required to take a dip into the calming waters of Termas Geométricas, which sit at the bottom of a canyon inside the remote Villarrica Sur National Park. Though the site boasts 60 individual hot springs, only a third of which are accessible to the public by an interweaving network of red-planked walkways designed by architect Germán del Sol.
Of the dozens of hotels and spas in UNESCO-designated Bath, a Roman-era spa town, The Gainsborough might be the plushest. The five-star hotel spans two historic buildings in the ancient spa town; at the heart of the property is the “Spa Village” of requisite therapies—saunas, steam rooms, ice rooms—plus a gorgeous colonnaded pool.
Each day over 100,000 gallons of naturally-heated sulphur-free water flows into Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, one of America’s oldest health resorts. The property has twelve private pools for soaking, including a detoxifying Mud Pool and Kiva Pool, the latter rich in iron and arsenic minerals. Spa treatments, like body wraps and aromatherapy seasons, are rooted in indigenous wellness traditions.
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