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; 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;

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; 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; 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; 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?
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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral