Nothing says “R&R” like a long, hot bath: That ahh feeling is the best cure for stress. Sure, you can find hot water and a tub just about anywhere (including your own home), but you can only extract so much ambience from bathroom tiles. To really kick back, leave your well-treaded bathmat behind and head to a soak-spot that both calms the nerves and soothes the senses. We’ve uncovered some spectacular bathing locales that drip with history, luxury and natural beauty.
Chena Hot Springs, Fairbanks, Alaska
Simply thinking of Alaska may send a shiver down your spine, but the northernmost state holds the key to a warm, relaxing getaway: the Chena Hot Springs. Located about 60 miles east of Fairbanks, these bubbling waters are at the heart of a 40-square-mile geothermal activity zone. The hot springs funnel mineral water at a whopping 165 degrees Fahrenheit into the massive pools at the Chena Hot Springs Resort. But don’t worry about the heat: The water is cooled well before it makes its way to the pool. When you do settle in for a soak, you’ll find that the region’s alpine peaks and verdant evergreen forests make for a splendid backdrop.
Molori Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Just because you’re in the wilderness doesn’t mean you have to rough it: The Molori Safari Lodge’s five bungalows bring chic to the Savanna. These unique accommodations seated within the Madikwe Game Reserve include floor-to-ceiling windows that allow visitors to wake up to stunning African vistas. But for the best views, grab your swimsuit and head to the main lodge’s hot tub. This in-ground soaking spot looks out over an ever-busy watering hole, frequented by elephants, lions and zebras.
Thermae Bath Spa, Bath, England
This beautiful town in southwest England has always been a heavyweight in the R&R sector. The city’s original name, Aquae Sulis, honors the Celtic goddess of Sulis. Said to be a nurturing giver of life, Sulis presided over Bath’s ancient hot springs and was worshipped by the pool’s previous patrons, the Romans.
The Thermae Bath Spa’s pools are fed by the same steamy springs that have long beckoned to bathers. Although the city’s three springs — the Cross Spring, the Hetling Spring and the King’s Spring — are located more than a mile underground, the best place to enjoy them is Thermae’s rooftop pool. While you’re simmering away, you can look out over the beautiful, Gothic-style Bath Abbey.
Rome Cavalieri, Rome, Italy
Guests at the Rome Cavalieri have a one-up in avoiding Rome’s massive crowds: This ornate Waldorf Astoria property in the heart of Rome boasts a bird’s-eye view of the city. The scenery is particularly sweet if you’re savoring it from the steamy waters of the Penthouse Suite’s private rooftop whirlpool. Watch the city unfold beneath you as you soak; consider a nighttime dip to glimpse St. Peter’s Basilica illuminating the skyline.
Hot Water Beach, Waikato, New Zealand
If you’re a more active traveler, you might prefer the DIY spa experience at Hot Water Beach, located on the northeast shore of New Zealand. The two underground fissures leak gallons of water at 147 degrees Fahrenheit every minute; the water then bubbles its way up through the beach’s golden sands to the surface. To make the most out of your visit, plan to arrive one to two hours before low tide (when more of the beach is exposed) with a bucket and shovel in hand — you’ll need them to dig your own hot tub.
Located approximately 400 miles south of Istanbul in Denizli, Turkey, these hot springs are rumored to have both healing and beautifying powers. The site’s own beauty is worth beholding. Formed by mineral deposits left behind by 17 flowing hot springs, these crystalline-white terraces collect shallow pools of steamy water ideal for a soothing soak. While visiting Pamukkale, your view will extend far over the city of Denizli.
Conrad Maldives, Rangali Island,The Maldives
Spread out across two remote islands, the Conrad Maldives’ 150 villas offer spectacular panoramas of the Indian Ocean. And there is no better place to enjoy the landscape than from the soothing 104-degree waters of a private hot tub. Consider one of the villas on the Rangali Island section of the resort; the tubs in these Beach Villas are flanked by sugary-white sands and a vibrant coral reef. And if the scenery isn’t enough, hotel staff members provide a few extra luxuries like cool glasses of fresh papaya juice.
Jigokudani Monkey Park, Yamanouchi, Japan
We’re not the only ones who enjoy a hot bath from time to time — our primate brethren do too. And nowhere are the R&R needs of monkeys catered to better than in Japan’s Jigokudani Monkey Park. Sitting 158 miles northwest of Tokyo in Yamanouchi, this natural park sits atop bubbling hot springs that feed a man-made pool frequented by Japanese macaques (or snow monkeys). Although Homo sapiens are not welcome in these pools, followers of the old “monkey see, monkey do” adage can sample the springs for themselves at the park’s Korakukan Jigokudani guest house.