The name may evoke images of monocled aristocrats taking the cure, but these days a distinctly younger, globe-trotting set walks the tree-lined boulevards of this Black Forest town in southwestern Germany. Known since Roman times for its natural hot springs (most notably the ancient Friedrichsbad and Caracalla, which are open to the public), Baden-Baden has always thrived as a spa village. Now, a wave of renovations is taking place. With the new Frieder Burda Museum, designed by Richard Meier, a trio of refurbished hotels, and a resurging nightlife, Baden-Baden is poised to become a hedonist’s retreat for health, culture, and late-night antics.
The wellness tradition continues at the brand-new spa from Kanebo (the Japan-based skin care line) in the 19th-century Brenner’s Park Hotel, a palatial compound of classical buildings set on 2.5 wooded acres. At night, well-heeled Germans and Russians flock to the opulent Casino, a James Bond–worthy cocktail club complete with gilt ceilings, 11 roulette tables, and an outdoor baccarat terrace. And at the 21,500-square-foot Frieder Burda, a dazzling collection of German Expressionist and Gerhard Richter masterworks is placing the town on the European art map.