With their thermal springs, herbal meadows, and fresher-than-fresh air, wellness spas in the Alps are a European cure-all.
Cleopatra was not the first to use valerian, a soothing flower found throughout the Austrian Alps, for her daily bathing rituals. The remedy ignited world trade routes as far back as 500 B.C. Ancient Romans also made a beeline for the mountains of Switzerland and Austria, finding comfort in their mineral-rich hot springs. Although area wellness spas have since modernized (case in point: Austria’s über-chic Alpentherme Gastein
), the story-book landscape still casts a curative spell, from its thermal pools to the indigenous herbs—such as chamomile, edelweiss, and golden arnica—that treat everything from migraines to the common cold.
Bad Waltersdorf, Austria
Therapists at the holistic Styrian Spa, located an hour and a half south of Vienna, source herbs from the on-site garden and massage away joint pain and headaches with locally made pumpkin oil. heiltherme.at; 60-minute pumpkin-oil body massage $88.
Bad Hofgastein, Austria
Were it not for its 3,500-year-old hot springs, Gastein Valley would be just another ski town. Instead, you’ll find six large wellness zones at spa megaplex Alpentherme Gastein, each with a distinct focus: Relax World, for example, houses a hot mineral-spring basin and alfresco baths, while Sauna World offers a Swiss stone-pine sauna (heated to 190 degrees, it helps firm and purify the skin before a cooling dip in the pool). alpentherme.com; adult day pass $34.
Sheltered in the mountains of Valais, the springs at Burgerbad Therme—70 miles east of Geneva—have healed visitors since the second century. Don’t miss the open-air vitality pool, where you will be treated to a waterfall-powered back massage while surrounded by white-tipped summits. burgerbad.ch; adult day pass $30.
Alpine-Inspired Wellness Spas
We’re buzzing about these Baudelaire soaps ($7 per bar), made with skin-rejuvenating beeswax.
Feeling stressed? The lavender and lemon balm in this herbal whey bath from Susanne Kaufmann ($50) are an antidote.
Edelweiss will greet you every morning on these Himmelgrün pillows, filled with Austrian spelt husks ($18).