Five of the best spa towns
As if we needed another excuse to indulge in a little pampering, 10 September marks the start of Spa Week, which celebrates the great art of rest and relaxation. While there’s plenty going on in day spas and spa hotels, there’s nothing quite like a visit to a real-life spa town, built and populated around its locally-famous waters.
These towns are worth visiting not only to discover a new area in a new country and all the fun that entails. Often, daytime activities can revolve around their geothermal goodness in hot springs or whole lakes infused with minerals that are said to aid youthfulness and good health. From rustic, unregulated waters to luxury facilities, every spa fiend will find a spiritual home that’s right for them. So for some rejuvenation in foreign climes, here are the Citybond team's favourite five spa towns.
Here’s a fun fact: mineral water is one of the largest exports of Georgia, with 145 million litres sent abroad. That’s because natural springs are scattered all across this up-and-coming destination. Borjomi is the most famous and visitable area: there are high-class hotels (most with a spa that uses its own mineral waters), nice restaurants, plus scenic views of evergreen forests and greenery as far as the eye can see. Even when visitors have had their fill of what Mother Earth has to offer, there’s some stunning sights on offer like the 14th century Gogia’s Castle and the Blue Palace, a mix of Georgia, Persian and European design built by the Iranian consul in 1892.
Halfway between Brisbane and Sydney, Moree is an inland town known for its rich waters that aid good health. So it’s only right to kick back at the town’s Wellness & Day Spa to enjoy a soak and sauna or try out a mineral-based massage. If relaxation and quietude isn’t your thing, their Artesian Aquatic Centre will make a real splash as they use mineral water to fill their Olympic-sized swimming pool, 10m-high waterslide and children’s water park. That’s not the only reason to make a visit – Moree features a unique town centre that’s filled with Art Deco buildings – take a walking tour to find out its history.
Located on the banks of Lake Leman in the French Alps, the picturesque town of Evian-les-Bains has attracted visitors since 1824, when the first baths were built, and especially since 1878 when the Evian Mineral Water Company was approved by the Academy of Medicine. Now, those who come over will be spoilt for choice with healing springs, though there’s plenty to do otherwise. There are boat trips to Lausanne in Switzerland, distinctly French architecture as found in buildings like the Palais Lumière, the Town Hall and theatre, and there’s a Casino too. Perfect as a change to all that relaxing and purifying.
A counterpart to Bath in the UK, this is the town that gave us the word ‘spa’– though ironically, they’re called ‘pouhons’ in this Walloon-speaking area. Spa’s rich waters have been healing its patrons since the 14th century, though it’s the visit of King Henry VIII’s physician Agustino that helped spread the word internationally. Continuing the theme of natural cures, nearby Herba Sana is a two-hectare garden dedicated to medicinal plants that is open between June and the end of September. To add to its charm, Spa is also the site of one of the most scenic Formula One race tracks, and for art fans, there’s an extensive exhibition dedicated to the ground-breaking work of Joan Miró.
Bad Zurzach, Switzerland
Switzerland’s Canton Aargau region is blessed with thermal waters – especially useful as it’s also famous for its hiking trails. Bad Zurzach, a 30-minute drive from Zurich, stands out thanks to its three salt drilling towers that stand proudly as a reminder of the plentiful minerals underneath. Visitors can enjoy the waters in Sal Aqua Naura Wellness World, a water park made up of mostly salt-water pools. There’s also a medical centre that uses its waters and the town’s luxury hotels offer spa packages that make this destination ideal for couples – try the famous Hotel zur Post, whose two-night wellness stay with breakfast, dinner, a treatment and entry to the thermal baths costs 300CHF (£240).
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