We talk a lot about creating your own spa in the bathroom, because what’s more relaxing than having a spa on tap to relax in after a stressful day? So, while it’s important to enjoy the luxury of a spa at home there are times when we want to travel outside the comfort of our bathrooms to see what’s on offer in this big wide world of ours.
Thankfully nature gives us a helping hand, as natural hot springs around the world – fuelled by the deep depths of planet earth – have afforded humanity a relaxing dip for thousands of years. While our modern lifestyle is well aware of the relaxing and healing properties that mineral-packed hot water can supply, ancient people were even more reliant on the wondrous waters. As we mentioned in our history of baths, even the Romans were big fans of Thermae (from the Greek ‘thermos’ that means ‘hot’).
So, to celebrate the exhilarating sensations of a dip in a hot spring – and to artificially recreating such an experience in your bathroom – we’ve leapt across the world and picked out 5 the best hot springs this beautiful planet of ours has to offer.
1. Takaragawa Onsen, Japan
You can’t talk about hot springs without mentioning Japan. With the country being located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an active volcanic region, hot springs are so prevalent in Japan that they have become ingrained in the countries culture. It is estimated that there are over 3,000 spa resorts across the country, as well as 6,740 public hot spring baths. Known as ‘onsens’ in Japan they are visited by 138 million people a year.
While there are plenty of notable onsens, one of the most spectacular is the Takaragawa Onsen in Gunma, Central Honshu. This famous and widely lauded onsen is located in the Snow Country and is buried deep in the mountains of Minakami. The spa lies on the Takaragawa, which means ‘treasure river’ and the several open-air slate constructed pools are situation along the riverbank. The alkaline heavy waters here are said to help cure fatigue, nervous disorders and digestive troubles.
2. Banff Upper Hot Springs, Canada
In the cold climes of Canada there’s probably nothing better than kicking back in a hot spring to while away the hours – especially when it’s accompanied by the spectacular alpine views that the Banff Upper Hot Springs is lucky enough to possess. The spring has been considered a sacred healing site by the natives for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until 1882 when railway workers accidentally stumbled across two spring pools while surveying the Sulphur Mountain area that people began to take real advantage of the pleasure they give. Since then a bathhouse has been constructed, with thousands of people now enjoying the benefits every year.
These are also Canada’s highest natural springs, located 5,200 feet above sea level. The waters are a mixture of minerals like calcium, sodium, bicarbonate, magnesium and sulphate. These minerals give the waters muscle-relaxing properties and apparently also contribute towards skin healing, set at a temperature of 104 degrees.
You can take a quick video tour of the springs below:
3. Ma’in Hot Springs, Jordan
Fed by gorgeous waterfalls that feed water down from the Wadi Zarqa Ma’in and past underground lava fissures; the 104 to 145-degree water is said to help with skin-healing. Many of the springs patrons stand underneath the waterfalls to receive a great natural deep-tissue massage. There’s also a rich history associated with this hot spring as King Herod himself is said to have travelled here regularly to receive medical treatment.
Elsewhere in this picturesque resort are 10 treatment rooms and a ‘steam cave’, with therapeutic treatments based around the mineral-rich properties of the spring’s water. The resort is also nearby to the Dead Sea, so if you fancy another relaxing natural dip then you don’t have far to travel.
4. Therme Vals, Switzerland
Although it may not look as spectacular as the open air spas already featured in this article, Therme Vals in Switzerland is still an inspiring piece of modern architecture. The building was designed by the award-winning architect Peter Zumthor, nestled into a forest covered mountain slope. Nobody knows just how old the spring is, although artifacts from around 1500BC do indicate that people were aware of the spring’s existence during the period.
The pools themselves is an infusion of calcium sulphate and hydrogen carbonate, heated to relaxing temperatures ranging from the 42 degrees fire pool to the chillingly cold 14-degree ice pool. The relaxation rooms also have music pumped into them by famed composer Fritz Hauser. Oh, and you have to ditch your mobile phones at the door – bliss!
5. Cross Baths, Bath, UK
Since we’re a UK based company we felt we should mention our very own hot springs. Although the UK has many geothermal springs, only those found in the town of Bath are the only true hot springs as they exceed a temperature 37 degrees C (the minimum temperature for a location to be labelled a ‘hot spring’). Cross Bath is our pick of the best, with a top temperature of 42.8 degrees C.
Visitors can relax in the indoor Minerva baths and Cross baths, or head outside into the open-air rooftop pool. The Minerva bath is complemented by a massage jet and whirlpool, while the cross bath is bordered by Roman inspired architecture. You can also relax in the Aroma Steam Rooms or enjoy one of the many spa treatments on offer.
You can find the locations of all the hot springs featured in this article in the embedded Google Maps below.
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