Best Hotel Hot Tubs
There’s no escaping it: after a day hoofing it around Paris from Montmartre to Montparnasse; off-roading in a bare-bones Land Rover on safari in Botswana; or attacking moguls in Vail, CO, the day’s activities are bound to haunt you. One of the oldest, most common ways known to man to relieve aches and pains is also one of today’s most luxurious and coveted amenities. In ancient times, the Romans named it the caldarium; we simply call it the hot tub.
Today, hot tubs are tucked into balconies and placed like ornate centerpieces on white-sand beaches. Hotels are increasingly charging architects with creating steaming jet-powered oases that will fuel guests’ imagination and allow them to while away their vacation in warmth—and turn to Jell-O.
And that’s exactly what happened when Resorts West partnered with Ski magazine and Deer Valley Resort to build the most idyllic ski-in, ski-out home possible. Resorts West CEO and cofounder Joe Ballstaedt wanted to one-up the extravagant lodges he had visited in Europe and South America—especially when it came to the après-ski amenities.
"Our Ski Dream Home—a six-bedroom luxury home atop Deer Valley Resort’s Little Baldy Peak with a stunning kidney-shaped hot tub for 12—improves on Chile’s top resort lodges with natural grottoes and epic mountain backdrops," says Ballstaedt.
The view, though, is just one measurement of a great Jacuzzi. For John DiScala, owner of the travel Web site JohnnyJet.com, the hot tub also needs to be secluded. And DiScala has seen plenty of hot tubs, good and bad—he travels about 150,000 miles and visits around 20 countries each year, from Brazil to Malaysia.
So we consulted him and other hot tub aficionados to compile a list of the world’s best hot tubs, which stretch from Jackson, WY, to the Maldives. Some tubs sit on the edge of pristine, white-sand beaches, while others are hidden behind deep jungle foliage. A few will take hours and a tiny seaplane to reach, and one was even created by film icon Francis Ford Coppola.
Go enjoy the sense of place all these tubs offer—it’s a great excuse to soak yourself silly.
The Molori Safari Lodge, South Africa’s North West Province
You can watch elephants, zebras, African wild dogs—even lions—from the six-person in-ground tub at this five-suite lodge, situated below the red-hued Dwarsberg Mountains on 12.4 acres deep inside South Africa’s 185,329-acre (malaria-free) Madikwe Game Reserve. Personal butlers supply soakers with Amarula, a South African cream liqueur made from the fruit of the African marula tree, on crushed ice, and “Biltong and Droewors,” a traditional cured-beef snack. —Christina Erb
Nimmo Bay Resort, British Columbia, Canada
At Nimmo Bay Resort, two idyllic red cedar tubs, heated to 104 degrees, are secreted away in a wooded inlet, 200 miles north of Vancouver. After a day of wildnerness adventures or heli-fishing the area’s remote rivers and lakes, rotate between the naturally cold plunge pool and one of the two eight-person hot tubs for an exhilarating hot-cold rush. The tubs are filled by Nimmo Bay’s cascading waterfall, whose clear water trickles down from the top of Mount Stephens. —Christina Erb
Amangani, Jackson, WY
This 40-suite resort’s hot tub clings to the western edge of Jackson Hole’s East Gros Ventre Butte and is a mere 20-minute drive from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The slate tub is 103 degrees and was designed, alongside the 35-meter, quartzite-tiled pool, to be the resort’s centerpiece. Since the winds can howl at 7,000 feet, it’s not uncommon for one of the resort’s staff to bring guests hot beverages in the colder months and cold beverages and assorted treats like sorbets and snow cones in the warmer months. —Christina Erb
Blancaneaux Lodge, near San Ignacio, Belize
Francis Ford Coppola’s Blancaneaux Lodge has a hydroelectric plant that heats the 11,000-gallon hot tub with the excess electricity it generates. The tub itself was designed by Oscar-winning production designer Dean Tavoularis. Made from thousands of pieces of local granite and built by local stone craftsmen, it sits in a hillside amid the same kind of lush jungle paradise Coppola fell in love with while filming Apocalypse Now. —Christina Erb
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives
Overlook the Indian Ocean from the ultra-private two-person, 104-degree hot tub outside of Conrad Maldives’ Over-Water Spa on Rangalifinolhu Island. The resort is set on two private islands, linked by a bridge, and surrounded by a vibrant coral reef, among miles of idyllic white-sand beaches. Each secluded tub gives guests uninterrupted views of the bright blue water. Hotel staffers supply cool aromatic towels and fresh fruit juices. —Christina Erb
Regent Palms, Turks and Caicos Islands
The Palms’ multimillion-dollar infinity-edge pool and 10-person hot tub overlook the North Atlantic and sit on the coveted Grace Bay Beach. The 72-suite resort is home to a 25,000-square-foot spa and is just steps away from fine-sand beaches and turquoise waters. You might find yourself enjoying a chilled scented towel next to such high-profilers as Jamie Lee Curtis and U.S. Senator John Kerry (both former guests). —Christina Erb
Banyan Tree Lijiang Resort & Spa, Lijiang, China
At the 125-room Naxi-influenced Banyan Tree, in Lijiang, in the Yunnan province of southwestern China, each Garden Villa features a lush private courtyard complete with its own two-person, 100.4-degree hot tub that looks out on the famous Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Ask for local plum wine and Chinese tea while you soak. —Christina Erb
Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown, New Zealand
The hot tub at this alpine cedar-and-schist stone lodge is nestled in native bush on the edge of Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors lift to expose the simple, cedar-timber hot tub to the elements—alfresco access to the garden and commanding views of The Remarkables mountains. It’s just minutes away from fly-fishing, bungee-cord jumping, and glacier adventures. —Christina Erb
The Hotel on Rivington, New York City
Settle into this coveted cedar hot tub—perched far above the Lower East Side’s bustling streets—with nine of your favorite friends and an order of Pearadise champagne cocktails. Visionary developer Paul Stallings (a catalyst for much of the downtown NYC neighborhood’s revitalization) also designed the hotel’s centerpiece tub with lofty extras: cool off in the outdoor shower in summer, or, in winter, toast your toes near the outdoor fireplace. —Christina Erb
The Ski Dream Home, Park City, UT
At nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, the 12-person stone hot tub at this opulent ski-in, ski-out home atop Deer Valley Resort’s Little Baldy Peak is ideal for an après-ski cocktail party. Guests can watch the sunset turn the Wasatch Mountain Range purple from the hot tub, which is surrounded by 1,000 square feet of heated outdoor pool, grotto, fireplace, and radiant-heated concrete flooring for below-zero-degree winter nights. —Christina Erb
The Singular, Patagonia, Chile
Facing the Last Hope Sound in the southern town of Puerto Bories, The Singular rewards visitors with a hot tub like no other on earth. Large metal jets spray into the aqua blue, bracingly hot square pool. As you ease yourself in, the rugged landscape of the fjord is visible through massive floor-to-ceiling windows. Care for a closer look and a dose of the chilly Patagonian air? Simply duck under the corner window panel and enjoy the outdoor section of this hot tub—and some of the world’s most remote countryside. —Jenny Adams
Doe Bay, San Juan Islands, WA
Take your pick between waterfront family-friendly cabins with plenty of creature comforts or a sparser stay in a yurt or geodesic dome at Doe Bay, a rustic resort on beautiful Orcas Island. Focused on reconnecting with nature, the spa features three 104-degree soaking tubs, each with room for eight and incredible bird’s-eye views. Your sight line is clear across the Salish Sea to the other islands of the San Juan Archipelago. —Jenny Adams
Angsana Tengchong Resort, Yunnan, China
Forget a hot tub or two—this place has an entire Hot Spring Village with 43 thermal pools. Angsana Tengchong is in southwestern China, a region famed for its volcanic mountains. In addition to accessing the outdoor public springs, you can book a villa with two private hot spring tubs—one in the master bedroom and one in your personal garden, complete with a traditional Chinese canopy for privacy and shade. —Jenny Adams
Hotel Villa Honegg, Lucerne, Switzerland
The swimming-pool-size steam tub on the back lawn of this 1905 mansion overlooks pristine Lake Lucerne. In the summer, your views include gently sloping green hillsides leading down to the lake. Winter brings added drama, as ice and snow shine in the sun on the dark peaks of Mount Bürgenstock. Want to throw the most epic hot tub party ever? Call Vladi Private Islands, and book a package to reserve the entire mansion for a cool $30,000 per night. —Jenny Adams
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa, Beaver Creek, CO
Living up to their (albeit quippy) names, the luxury resort’s five “haute” tub options have their own selling points. Two are for adults only. One comes with jaw-dropping views of the Vail Valley below; another wows with a cascading hot waterfall, straight off a natural rock formation surrounding the edges. For winter 2014–2015, the resort is adding slope-side hot tub bottle service to one special hot tub. For $375, you get Veuve Clicquot Champagne or cocktails for six people, a dedicated waitress, hot towels, plush robes, and truffle popcorn to munch. Just don’t drop it in the water. —Jenny Adams
The Shangri-La Boracay, Boracay, Philippines
This resort makes excellent use of the native plant life, from floating palm-scapes in the swimming pool to haute cuisine and cocktails in tree-house perches suspended off hillside staircases. And its most luxurious suite follows suit. On the second level, you step through glass walls to a tree-house balcony, where a jet-filled hot tub awaits. It’s surrounded by candles and covered in floating flower petals. Sunset promises the best views; don’t forget to phone your personal butler first for fresh strawberries and a glass of rare champagne for the experience. —Jenny Adams
Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff, Canada
Imagine visiting what is essentially a fairy-tale castle, deep in a forest designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Now imagine slipping into a hot tub in the middle of this enchanted landscape. Welcome to Fairmont Banff Springs, where the hottest amenity is located in the shadow of the towering Canadian Rockies. Black rock, blue sky, and immense pine trees envelop you as you soak. It’s a pretty luxe reminder of the awesome immensity of Mother Nature. —Jenny Adams
Belmond Khwai River Lodge, Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Private Suite at Belmond Khwai River Lodge tempts travelers with its open-air bathroom with a copper Victorian bathtub and a sumptuous four-poster bed with a gauze canopy. But it’s the private deck sporting a larger-than-average, heated splash tub overlooking the floodplains of the Moremi Wildlife Reserve that really inspires bookings. This floodplain is one of the best places on the planet to view exotic animals. The waters attract hundreds of species, including lions, leopards, and elephants. You can join a nighttime safari, or just soak in your private hot tub at sunset—it’s only a matter of time until you spy a pride of lions. —Jenny Adams
Twin Farms, Barnard, VT
This 1700s-era farmhouse, set on 300 pastoral acres, is everything you’d dream when imagining holing up in Vermont. The premier Aviary Cottage features 950 square feet spread over two levels, with a design by Peter Bohlin that plays with glass, wood, and rough stone in creative ways. These elements harmonize in the giant open fieldstone fireplace, a few feet from your personal hot tub, sunk into granite rock. A huge picture window delivers storybook views of the New England forest outside. —Jenny Adams
The Ritz-Carlton Sanya Beach Resort, Sanya, China
Topping 30,000 square feet, the spa at this Ritz is one of the largest in the world. Begin with a visit to the vitality pools. Set outside, the square stone tubs have dozens of pressurized jets. They’re surrounded by thick tropical foliage, live bamboo stalks, aromatherapy candles, cold towels, and the sounds of relaxing fountains. It’s an outdoor jungle experience on Hainan—China’s only tropical island—that doesn’t require leaving the resort at all. —Jenny Adams
Amangiri, Canyon Point, UT
Amangiri blends into and also uses the natural rock formations that make southern Utah such a hot travel destination for those who love the desert—and what’s not to love when you’re staying at this rarefied hideaway? Surrounding an open-air pavilion space, the resort makes use of the gorgeous night sky as decoration. There’s no better place to stargaze than the hot tub at the base of a rock wall, flanked by a massive swimming pool and a lounging terrace decorated with king-size daybeds. —Jenny Adams