Picture the Alps, and you’re probably thinking of their snow-capped peaks and the crazy long list of adrenaline-junkie activities the mountains are perfect for — skydiving, month-long hiking treks, paragliding, rappelling down sheer cliff faces. But most people don’t realize that behind this adventure-fueled image lies a haven of thermal springs and spas that are equally perfect for anyone looking to unwind, escape, and detox from the concerns of the everyday world.
If you want to veg out in a misty mountain hideout for a few nights, complete with healing energy spots and killer pool views, check out these wellness hotels hiding in the Alps.
Colombi (Freiburg, Germany)
This palatial hotel on the outskirts of Freiburg, with its grand split staircase and in-house Michelin-starred restaurant, basically earns you theater credit as an extra in Downton Abbey. The rooms are exquisite, and the views of Colombi Castle, Colombi Park, and Freiburg’s famous red-tiled rooftops will make it difficult not to spend the entire stay on your balcony.
But Freiburg, on the edge of Germany’s famous Black Forest, is a great base for exploring the surrounding landscape via riverside walks and valley hikes. After a day full of adventures, Colombi is the perfect place to wash away your fatigue — be it soaking in their spa, warming your tired muscles in their traditional sauna, eating at the award-winning Hans-Thoma-Stube (set in a 1776 Bavarian farmhouse), or taking a moment — or two — to imbibe at their well-stocked cocktail bar.
Hotel Post Bezau (Bregenzerwald, Austria)
Holistic luxury tourism is actually a thing, yes, at least at Hotel Post Bezau. Sitting comfortably in Austria’s Bregenzerwald, one of the defining principles here is that nature and luxury are not opposites — in fact, they’re intimately related. If you’re looking for something a little more connected to the earth, this might be it.
In addition to being environmentally friendly and sustainable, the hotel is all about wellness, with a focus on holistic health. And that can mean whatever you want it to — unwinding by the pool, joining the hotel’s mountain biking program, or seeing how your body takes to traditional Chinese medicine. They can even customize a nutrition plan to match your needs — everything here is artfully designed.
Engel Obertal (Baiersbronn, Germany)
Located near the start of one of the greatest themed roads in Germany (the Schwarzwaldhochstrasse, or Black Forest High Road), Engel Obertal looks like a small, quiet chalet from the outside — the kind of place one might spend misty mornings relaxing in the outdoor hot tub. Yet there’s more going on here than meets the eye. The resort has half a dozen pools, saunas, a solarium, and a spa with a virtually endless list of offerings, including everything from massages and beauty treatments to facials, yoga, and zumba classes.
There’s a bit of romance here, too. The cozy, country-style “snuggery,” Engelwirt’s Stube, servers traditional Swabian dishes from the region. Hours can be spent on the garden terrace and by the lake, and the Buhlbach Valley is at your doorstep, ready for whatever adventure you’re up for.
Ermitage Wellness & Spa Hotel (Gstaad, Switzerland)
Ermitage is basically a Swiss El Dorado. Picture swimming out to the edge of a heated saltwater pool, touching your hand to the snow, and wondering exactly how far away the mountains in the distance really are (hint: not that far). You’ll find out tomorrow on a hike around one of Switzerland’s most beautiful towns — but for now it’s Tuesday, and Tuesday is spa day.
The hotel, nearly 40,000 square feet of Alpine splendor, sits on a sunny terrace in the mountains above Gstaad. It has what’s essentially one giant panoramic view of the Saanenland — and the views of the chalet-style resort and the extensive park-like grounds are pretty amazing, too. Then there are the amenities: 10 different saunas and steam baths, an indoor-outdoor saltwater pool, a sports pool, daily gymnastics classes, beauty treatments — and did we mention the One Million Stars Bar by Swarovski? With 30 gin and tonic recipes to choose from, you should be set. Oh, and the name? Yeah, there’s a million Swarovski crystals here.
Elztalhotel (Elzach, Germany)
If the idea of sleeping at the top of a hill in Germany’s Black Forest sounds like your cup of tea, then a stay at Elztalhotel in Elzach should be your choice. This place is home to one of the coolest swimming pools in the world, with an almost 365-degree view courtesy of the ceiling-to-floor windows. There’s a gap in the glass that feels like a secret tunnel, so you can swim out under the wall and into the hotel’s outdoor pool, the mountains popping into HD.
And we haven’t even touched on the spa yet. Forget about everything but where you are and how awesome vacation is, and treat yourself with special therapies and baths, massages, and an assortment of wellness treatments by Jean d’Arcel. All this and you’re still surrounded by nature, waking up to chirping birds and those Alpine sunrises.
The Carlton Hotel (St. Moritz, Switzerland)
Free private butler service? Good luck going back to reality after life at the Carlton Hotel in St. Moritz. Jeeves aside, this ultra-trendy hotel has been listed among “the leading hotels in the world.” Though that’s probably more to do with its Carlo Rampazzi-desgined interior, the location, and the spa offerings, the butler service certainly doesn’t hurt.
The Carlton has 60 palace-style suites, an absolutely huge wellness center, and the Michelin-starred restaurant Da Vittorio – St. Moritz, but perhaps its biggest asset is the hardly believable views of Lake St. Moritz and the Engadin mountains. Google some more pics, and you’ll see what we’re talking about.
Aqua Dome (Ötztal Valley, Austria)
It’s called the Hotel and Spa Aqua Dome for a reason: The 97°F thermal pools wind through the resort’s grounds, and the sauna area (Gletscherglühen), takes up a whopping 20,000 square feet. SPA 3000 is divided into levels, and at the top you’ll be enjoying a healthy (well, as healthy as it gets) cocktail at Bar Hochsitz, looking out over the Tirolean Alps.
Here, you’ll find 12 pools, seven saunas, four restaurants and bars — and the combination of steel and glass, open space and grass, stone and wood is something you probably won’t get anywhere else. Sign up for a panoramic balcony, wake up to fresh fruit in your room, throw on the bathrobe, and there you are — at the height of Alpine luxury.