Five Best: Mountain Spas

Louie Jones finds the classiest places to relax after a tough day on the slopes


Bagni Vecchi, Italy

Praised by the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, the hot water in the Bagni Vecchi has been delighting Italians since the first century AD. Joined on the outskirts of Bormio by upstart Bagni Nuovi in 1836, the historic spa complex offers over 60 different places to unwind - including the original Roman chambers, mud and steam subterranean grottos, waterfalls, and 11 outdoor pools. A huge range of massages and treatments is also available. Leonardo (da Vinci, not DiCaprio) was a guest of the Bagni Vecchi hotel, a castle perched on the cliffs; the Bagni Nuovi is a much grander affair. But you don't have to ski in Bormio to take to the waters; the baths are just 35km from Livignio and an easy day trip from St Moritz/Engadin.

Bagni Vechhi, Bormio, Italy (00 39 342 910131; www.bagnidibormio.it). Open 10am-8pm, until 11pm on Thursdays. Entrance from €30 (£20). Doubles from €208 (£140), including breakfast and admission.

Therme Vals, Switzerland

Church bells from the valley below echo off the quartzite columns surrounding the outdoor pool; petals float across the flower chamber; heat radiates from the adobe walls in the fire room. Ten years old, this arresting take on classical baths is hewn out of the local black stone. Thermal pools are complemented by a sauna and steam room; relaxation rooms peer out onto alpine meadows. The spa is easily accessible from Flims/Laax.

Therme Vals, Vals, Switzerland (00 41 81 926 8080; www.therme-vals.ch).

Open daily 11am-10pm. Entrance SFr30 (£12.80) adults, SFr20 (£8.50) children. Doubles in the Hotel Therme Vals start at SFr208 (£89), including breakfast.

Aqua Dome, Austria

This giant, airy spa satisfies families, design buffs and serenity seekers alike. Fed by the Längenfeld spring, the glass-domed indoor swimming pool and elevated outdoor jacuzzis are dominated by the looming Ötztal Alps. In the sauna complex, it's strictly voices down and clothes off. Towel-toting Austrians trot between earth, hay and herb saunas, steam rooms, an ice grotto, volcano waterfall and the outdoor pool. The slopes of Sölden, Obergurgl and little Oetz are close by.

Aqua Dome, Ötztal Valley, Austria (00 43 5253 6400; www.aqua-dome.at). Open daily 9am-10pm. Entrance from €13 (£8.80) for adults, €6.50 (£4.40) under 15s (plus €2 (£1.35) supplement on weekends and holidays); €7 (£4.70) extra for admission to the sauna complex. Doubles in the hotel from €250 (£170), half board.

Ten Thousand Waves, US

At the southern tip of the Rockies, little Santa Fe Ski Basin boasts one of the highest base elevations on the North American continent, along with dry-as-the-desert powder and bright sunny days. Halfway between the no-frills resort and the adobe walls of Santa Fe is this tribute to the Japanese onsen, an serene outdoor complex of private hot tubs. Each affords views across the desert hillside; super premium tubs have their own saunas. Pretty pagodas serve as therapy rooms; 12 elegant cottage suites are located in the grounds. Book in advance for a tub at the end of the ski day.

Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe, New Mexico (001 505 992 5025; www.tenthousandwaves.com). Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10.15am-9.30pm, Tuesday 4pm-9:30pm, Friday to Sunday and holidays, 9.15am-10.30pm. Private tubs from $20 (£11). Double rooms from $99 (£53).

Caldea, Andorra

Resembling a Seventh Day Adventist temple from the outside, this tower of glass contains a watery theme park within. The giant thermal lagoon is like a leisure pool turned up to 11, busy with whirlpools and water massage jets. Outside, the snaking thermal river and hot tubs are a calmer affair, as the surrounding mountains work their peace-bestowing magic. Elaborately-themed saunas, hammams, ice pools and footbaths slow the pace another notch. Adults wishing to escape the hubbub entirely pay extra (from €73/£50, depending on treatment) to enter the club level, an upper floor of massage rooms, relaxation areas and smaller pools and saunas. The spa is on the edge of Andorra's capital city, la Vella, making it a short drive from most of the principality's resorts.

Caldea, Engordany, Andorra (00 376 800 999; www.caldea.ad). Open daily from 9.30am-11pm (last admission at 9pm), Saturdays from 9.30am-12 midnight (last admission 10pm). Entrance from €29.50 (£20), 5-12 year olds €22 (£15).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Casual Visitor Experience Assistants

    £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To work within the Visitor Experience Departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

    Tribal gathering

    Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

    Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

    Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
    Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

    Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

    No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
    How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

    Power of the geek Gods

    Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

    Perfect match

    What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
    10 best trays

    Get carried away with 10 best trays

    Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
    Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

    Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

    Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
    Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

    Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

    He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high