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Austria's Hot Springs

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by John Burns (subscribe)
I am a writer and teacher, out and about in the world but with Nottingham never far from my heart.
Published January 20th 2015
Spa luxury in the Austrian Alps

"Winter sun" has been a thing ever since package holidays and low cost airlines first burst onto the scene back in the 1970s. Destinations in Europe and even further afield are now so accessible to British holidaymakers that increasing numbers of Brits are saying "no thanks" to the slate-grey skies and horizontal rain of an English winter and jetting off in search of more pleasant climes.

austria, hot springs, thermal baths, christmas getaways, winter sun
Image courtesy of Revolution_Ferg, Flickr

But do we really want to turn our back on winter altogether? Do we really want to become uni-seasonal beings desperately chasing after the sun like love sick puppies? Can't we have warmth and comfort while also soaking up the festive atmosphere of a white Christmas?

The answer may lie in a natural source of heat and warmth rather different to the one that blazes above our heads (at least in summer, occasionally). The geothermic activity beneath the Austrian Alps makes the region a prime spot for combining stunning alpine scenery, a Christmassy atmosphere and the warmth and comfort of a spa break. Sound good? Take a look at our tips below.

Bad Blumau, Styria

One of the most magical places in Europe never mind Austria, Bad Blumau is perfect for indulging yourself in peace and tranquility.

austria, hot springs, thermal baths, christmas getaways, winter sun

The general vibe of the spa appears to have been lifted from a fantasy novel, and visitors flock here from all over Europe to bask in the otherworldly majesty of this unique location. You might not be surprised to learn that the spa complex was designed by artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, famous for his dreamlike paintings and artworks.

Several UK operators and airports now run cheap and frequent flights to Graz airport in the Styria region. From here it's a short train ride across to Bad Blumau station, where the spa's staff will be waiting to pick you up. You will be enjoying the toasty waters and relaxing atmosphere of Bad Blumau in no time.

Aquadome, Lagenfeld

Somewhat more space age than Bad Blumau, the Aquadome complex at Lagenfeld boasts several upward-facing pool 'pods' as well the standard array of thermal pools. There are three of these bowl-shaped pools onsite, each boasting stunning views of the surrounding mountain landscape. Nighttime bathing sessions are available till midnight every Friday, and provide a truly romantic Alpine experience as the crystalline clarity of the Austrian night-sky contrasts with the pleasantly warm water.

The unique architecture of Aquadome makes it a sight to behold come nightfall, when the central cone is illuminated with a soothing glow and each 'levitated' bowl pool is lit from beneath. The visage is similarly beguiling by day, when the peaks of the Tyrolean mountains are visible in all directions.

Situated in the Otztal valley, the spa complex is accessible from Innsbruck, Salzburg or Munich, with shuttle buses running between the site and Innsbruck airport. The location is also easily reached from the nearby Otztal railway station.

Felsentherme, Bad Gastein

For a more naturalistic feel, or if you would prefer to balance your thermal relaxation with some quality ski time on the piste, you might want to try Felsentherme at Bad Gastein. The spa here features indoor pools hewn from the very Alpine rock on which the complex is situated, as well as outdoor thermal pools with spectacular views of the nearby mountain peaks.

austria, hot springs, thermal baths, christmas getaways, winter sun
The Gastein Valley, with Bad Gastein in the bottom right of the picture

The spa itself can be found in the Gastein velley in the impressive Hohe Tauern mountain range, a location which can trace its settled history as far back as the year 963. It wasn't until the 19th century that the valley's geothermic activity made it a hot-spot for the great and good of Europe, but that tradition is still going strong today – only you need not be a Burgundian Count or an heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire to bathe here these days!

The area is also renowned for its winter sports, and the ski world championships were held here back in 1958, so you might want to pack your mountain gear to take full advantage of the location!

Bad Gastein is easily reachable from Salzburg airport, so if you're feeling the affects of a grim British winter, you might be tempted to hop on a plane and come check Felsentherme – or one of the other spots on our list – out for yourself. Enjoy!
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Why? A novel way to stay warm and comfortable this Christmas
Where: Austria
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