Switzerland has long been a pilgrimage destination for those looking to improve their health and wellbeing. Many come simply for the ample opportunities to hike, bike and ski in beautiful mountain terrain – home to Jungfrau, one of the most spectacular summits in Europe, there are plenty of picture-perfect valleys, glaciers and meadows to explore year round. Others come for the spas and thermal springs, many of which harness traditions and rituals that are centuries old. Here is our pick of the top ways to enjoy the country’s wellness offerings, from Interlaken to Baden and everywhere in-between.
Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa, Interlaken
Situated between two lakes and overlooking Interlaken’s central green and the Alps, this grande dame unites two 19th-century hotels. Although applauded for its luxe rooms and culinary offerings, the hotel is perhaps best known for its 5500 m² wellness centre, which incorporates a domed pool as well as two separate spas. The menu at Espa features more than 30 treatments that merge eastern and western philosophies, while the Sensai Select Spa, – the only one of its kind in the world – is a blissful Japanese-inspired retreat. If you have the time, book the three-hour Indulgence in Silk treatment, that includes a body exfoliation with silk gloves, a full-body massage and a double-moisturising wrap.
Limmathof Baden Hotel & Spa
The spa district of Baden is among the most important cultural and historical sites in Switzerland. Since Roman times at least, the local thermal springs have been used for medicinal purposes. At the Limmathof hotel’s Novum Spa make the most of the thermal spa and whirlpool, steam room sauna and cool room before indulging in treatments such as the Hanakasumi by Sothys: a ritual inspired by Japanese traditions, beginning with a detoxing enzyme peel and ending with a massage using blossom-infused oils.
For the ultimate escape, reserve one of the private spa suites, where you can alternate between the waterbed, rain shower, steam room, cooling Kneipp pool and hot tub with pure thermal water.
Thermalbad & Spa, Zurich
Giving the ancient Roman tradition of bathing a modern twist, this jaw-dropping facility occupies an old brewery building, which means you can bathe in a grotto encased in hundred-year-old vaulted stone walls, then enjoy beautiful views of the city skyline from the outdoor rooftop thermal bath. The water is drawn from the legendary Aqui springs – rich in valuable minerals and known for its soothing properties – deep beneath Zurich. On top of that, you can relax in the huge wooden tubs of the old brewery in the basement where you’ll also find the Irish-Roman spa with its steam baths and shallow pools.
Over the course of two hours, you work your way through 10 consecutive stations: your body is gradually warmed, cleansed, relaxed, then cooled once again as you move from a floral steam bath to a body peel, hot herbal steam bath, Roman bath with massage jets, whirlpool, bubble lounger and more.
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz
The thermal waters at this spa hotel flow from the Tamina Gorge and sit at a constant 36.5°C – body temperature. The physical properties and moderate mineral content of the water is said to bring about a whole host of positive health benefits for the heart, lungs, circulation, kidneys, motor system and even hormones. Alongside the main pool, a number of other baths are heated to different temperatures, so you can shock your body with cooler water or sit in the ice cave before taking a dip in warmer water. The complementary facilities are extensive, including four saunas (Finnish set to 90, Sanarium at 60, Swarovski steam at 45 and Salt sauna at 85), each with different benefits. The treatments range from holistic therapies to stress management, nutrition advice, ear candling and facials. Needless to say, most people come here for more than an overnight stay, booking in for week-long retreats with targeted outcomes and results.
Hotel Thermae Vals
Quite possibly one of the most beautiful spas you will ever visit, this shrine to wellness unites 60,000 slabs of quartzite, stacked into a splendid architectural tribute to Switzerland’s Vals Valley. The ultimate introduction to the region’s mineral waters is the Water Massage, with your therapist standing in chest-deep water, moving you in ways that mimic shiatsu.
Weightlessly floating in water, you’re lengthened, stretched and lulled into an intense state of relaxation. The treatment also benefits from the healing properties of the warm thermal waters of Vals, known to help with peripheral circulation and relief of joint pain. Other bathing rituals are equally indulgent, from the thalasso bath to a soak with mountain herbs or rose petals, kelp or sea-mud body wrap or salt rub-down.
Bellavita Pool & Spa in Pontresina, St Moritz
When you slip off your ski boots at the end of the day, this is the place where you will want to unwind. There are facilities for children as well as separate areas for adults, including an outdoor pool, which is heated to 34°C year-round. Gaze up at the incredible snow-capped mountain while you contemplate whether you want to move on to the scalding Finnish sauna (90°C, 10% humidity), Bio sauna (60°C, 50% humidity, with music) or Turkish bath (45°C, 100% humidity). In true bathing tradition there are hydro-massage showers to relieve muscle tension as well as a Kneipp pool and a cool-water bathing area with a waterfall. Best of all, you can end the day in a relaxation room with an open fire – and perhaps a glass of wine.
Engadin Bad Scuol
There are more than 20 mineral springs in and around Scuol, in the far east of the country. Ten of these are currently in use and supply both Scuol’s drinking water and carbonated mineral baths as well as the Engadine Bad Scuol, a series of pools and saunas all at different temperatures. A visit to Switzerland’s first Roman-Irish baths might begin with a dip in the atmospheric indoor pool before moving on to the alternating warm and cool water grottoes and a saline bath. As night falls, head outside to the hot tubs, which are heated to 34°C, and watch the stars fill the sky while you soak all your worries away. There are also a number of treatment rooms so you can indulge in a massage or invigorating body scrub.
LeCrans Hotel & Spa, Crans-Montana
Two hours from Geneva, in the Valais region of Switzerland, LeCrans Hotel & Spa is a true ski-in, ski-out lodge, only 100 metres from the Crans-Montana slopes. All rooms and suites are decked out in a traditional alpine style, as is the beautiful spa with its panoramic views and heated (34°C) outdoor pool.
From the indoor pool you’re still guaranteed mountain views, but can also make use of a jacuzzi, hammam (Turkish bath) and sauna, plus four individual treatment suites. We highly recommend the aromatic body scrub with spices to energise and enhance skin radiance, or the Kansu massage, which sees the soles of your feet massaged with a metal bowl – it’s said to bring deep relaxation and inner calm. If you’re staying a few days, there are indulgent packages available that will ensure you are pampered from sunrise to sunset.