In case you did not know, Switzerland is quite a paradise for spa lovers.
But don't listen to me! Listen to some of the residents from two thousand years ago. Back when the Roman Empire expanded across the alpine region, architects with names such as Aurelius or Brutus had constructed public baths on top of Helvetic hot springs.
Those mineral rich waters are still sought after in modern times. And in recent decades, many of these historic thermal baths have transformed into stunning architectural highlights. Here are 11 spas in Switzerland featuring total relaxation as well as stunning architecture:
Bernaqua at Westside Bern (Architecture by Daniel Libeskind)
Bernaqua Spa is a getaway for the connoisseurs who like to experience pure wellness and spa treatments. There is an extraordinary Asian spa with just the right treatments to soothe yourself: from a hot stone massage and an aroma oil massage to body scrubbings and other Thai treatments. Each treatment includes a welcoming foot bath plus cake and tea as you rejuvenate with your dream spa treatment.
The world-famous architect, Daniel Libeskind, is responsible for making the Bernaqua spa an architectural highlight, too. It showcases glimpses of the natural world inside this Bern shopping complex. There are various window cuts in different designs that conjure natural light and provide a panoramic view of the entire spa area.
The Chedi Andermatt Spa (Architecture by Jean-Michel Gathy)
Are you one who cannot resist a world of calm and relaxation? Look no further than the Chedi Andermatt Spa! Spread across 2400 square meters, the Chedi has built an Asia themed spa world in the middle of the Swiss Alps. Architect Jean-Michel Gathy has created a masterpiece of clean-lined modernism combined with Asian elegance.
Apart from a 35-meter swimming pool and an outdoor pool, the Chedi Andermatt Spa also has a suite of Japanese onsen tubs. The concept is that each tub gets successively hotter arriving at a seemingly boiling 40 degrees Celsius.
Waldhotel Spa at Waldhotel Bürgenstock (Architecture by Matteo Thun)
The Waldhotel Spa is inspired by the concept of “Healthy by Nature”, offering a unique oasis of relaxation. The indoor pools have a temperature of 32 degrees Celsius, and the mineral waters in the outdoor pool with its massage nozzles is heated to 35 degrees Celsius.
This spa was designed by Italian star architect, Matteo Thun. It stands out for its striking green timber façade, wooden pergola frame and Gabions. Moreover, the main focus of this hotel is its fusion of nature and architecture.
Mineral Baths & Spa Rigi-Kaltbad (Architecture by Mario Botta)
On top of the Queen of Mountains in central Switzerland is Rigi-Kaltbad. There, renowned Swiss architect Mario Botta has left his mark at the Mineral Baths and Spa. The glass façade and stone slats give this wellness temple a calm, contemplative aura which suits to benefit both body and soul.
The mineral baths and spa at Rigi-Kaltbad feature a herbal sauna, a crystal bath and one of Switzerland’s most spectacular swimming pools. The 35-degree Celsius indoor pool seamlessly leads outdoors where a sweeping Alpine panorama greets bathers.
Tamina Therme in Bad Ragaz (Architecture by Smolenicky& Partner Architecture)
The Tamina Therme in Bad Ragaz is easy to reach for city slickers wanting to leave their woes behind. It features two indoor pools, one outdoor pool, bubble beds, a waterfall and a variety of massage jets that provide the ultimate bathing experience. Thanks to the nearby Tamina gorge, the mineral rich spring water is a comfortable 36.5 degrees Celsius.
The architecture of this spa by Smolenicky & Partner was inspired by the world’s grand hotels. The snow white wood is a prominent feature, and the stone elements make a connection to the adjacent Hotel Quellenhof. The Tamina Therme has most recently been extended by a sauna village. Inside the chalets built of Scandinavian Kelo wood, Switzerland’s largest infusion sauna will steam you to the core.
Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Arosa (Spa designed by Mario Botta)
Another gem by architect Mario Botta is the Tschuggen Bergoase spa at the Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Arosa. It must have been an architectural challenge to fit a 5000 square meter spa onto a hillside. Botta built the Bergoase on four levels and for natural lighting, he has added prominent skylights resembling those of a cathedral.
As for what is inside the mountain, the Bergoase spa truly is an oasis for all senses. Among the indoor and outdoor pools, Arosa rock cave and mountain sauna with snow terrace, the architect has created a relaxing atmosphere by use of rock, light and water.
7132 Therme in Vals (Architecture by Peter Zumthor)
The Swiss architect behind the 7132 Therme, Peter Zumthor, used 60’000 slabs of local quartz to construct this timeless wellness temple. The quartz stone lends the interior walls a layered appearance as if they had been sliced out of the bedrock.
The thermal bath benefits from St. Peter's spring with its mineral rich waters. Said to have healing powers, the water varies in temperature between indoors (32 degrees Celsius) and outdoors, where it can range from 30 to 36 degrees Celsius.
Termali Salini & Spa in Locarno (Architecture by MORO & MORO architects)
The Termali Salini & Spa is adjacent to the lido public bath of Locarno, and they are an oasis of peace. The spa offers all the rituals of true relaxation: there is a 400 square meter Turkish bath, indoor and outdoor salt water swimming pools, as well as a “Kneipp” pool to stimulate blood circulation.
The water used in the spa stems from the deep valleys of Ticino. The water’s journey was a source of inspiration for the local architects of MORO e MORO. The materials used in the construction of this spa include local granite from the valleys, Ticino’s native oak, beech, timer, and black locust.
The interior also reflects the Ticino river valley in an abstract and modern design that features caves and acloves, meanwhile showcasing a stunning panorama.
In 2021, the latest spa by architect Mario Botta will open its doors in Baden. Until then, visitors can enjoy Switzerland’s most mineral-rich thermal waters at the BagnoPopolare in the middle of the construction site. The Thermalbad Baden will have nine pools with varying temperatures, including a river pool and a steam pool. However, the main highlight will be an infinity pool located directly above the River Limmat.
The Mario Botta design is for a 160-meter long building with a natural stone façade from which finger-like openings are pointed to the sky. At last, according to the direction of Steiner Sarnen, the planning officer, a range of historical and cultural mediation will be developed for Baden’s historic spa quarter.
The Dolder Grand Spa in Zürich (Architecture by Sir Norman Foster)
The Dolder Grand Spa by Sylvia Sepielli is an oasis for those who love to relax and want to feel pampered. There are separate spas for ladies and gentlemen, each offering steam baths, saunas, aroma pools, steam pots, cold-water basins, sunbeds, and kotatsu foot baths.
When it comes to the architecture, the 4000 square meter spa has a fluid and organic atmosphere. There are stone walls leading from the landscaping into a canyon-like space for the pool, and the color palette harmonizes with the organic composition of this spa.
Located in an industrial building of the former Hürlimann brewery, the Thermalbad & Spa Zürich is known for its rooftop outdoor pool overlooking Zürich. Up there, plenty of attractions will keep you entertained - from bubble seats to massage jets!
Many stories below, deep inside the former cellar with its vaulted ceiling, there are several hot tubs made of wooden planks. These tubs resemble barrels and serve as a reminder for the building’s 19th century past when beer used to be filled into barrels in this very space. The water is sourced nearby and is naturally heated.
Althammer Hochuli Architects AG have used old wooden panels for redecoration, a material that is related to the building’s 100-year old architecture. The theme was to develop vibrant interior spaces located underground, with the rooftop pool acting as an opening to the outside world.
(All photographs copyright Switzerland Tourism. This article is sponsored by Switzerland Tourism.)