Five of the best Alpine spa hotels

From lake swims to herb-soaked massages, these spas offer unique treatments using local ingredients and traditional expertise in spectacular natural settings.

By Nick Dalton & Sarah Barrell
Published 19 Mar 2023, 07:00 GMT
Swimming pool at Hotel Grand Rousses.

Swimming pool at Hotel Grand Rousses.

Photograph by Hôtel Grandes Rousses

1. Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti, Italy

Best for Alpine cool

This is the definition of a destination spa: a gently modernist wood and glass shrine to serenity, set into a pine-clad Dolomite cliffside where pools, treatment and relaxation areas merge with fluid elegance from indoors to out. Perched above the river in Pinzolo, it’s in a sweet spot between Lake Garda and the peaks of Madonna di Campiglio, but you won’t stray far, seduced by warm salt caves and saline floating pools. There’s a Zen garden tucked into the cliffs while the outdoor pool appears to flow into the forest, above which, the hotel’s upper floors taper to a peak. Here, Dolomia, serves indulgently wholesome Italian cuisine, which, like the spa’s treatments and products, celebrates local Alpine ingredients. 
Rooms: From £388, B&B.

2. Hotel Grand Rousses, Alpe d’Huez, France

Best for chic chalet feel

This chalet-like hotel, right by the slopes, has a rooftop pool, hot tub and sunloungers, as well as a beautiful indoor pool amid the contemporary stone and timber decor. A boon in the summer heat, the Spa des Alpes is packed with cool treatment options, not least a cryotherapy chamber for -160C blasts. The Aqua Sensory Area has a spa and steam room where adventurous guests can get a blast from the ice fountain and waterfall bucket. Then there’s the Bar a Bains (‘bathroom bar’), an experience in grandiose freestanding, health-giving copper baths with revitalising soaks — along with refreshing drinks and homemade snacks. 
Rooms: From £160, B&B. 

3. Grand Hotel, Zell am See, Austria

Best for timeless elegance

The family-friendly Classic Spa at this belle époque lakefront property has an elegant indoor pool, which is all pillars and arches, wonderful views, sauna, a gym, sunbathing lawn and a private lake beach. This is a hotel that’s never been tempted to go for the contemporary makeover, and the second spa, the 5th-floor GrandSpa Lounge, says it all — pink marble floor, peacock chairs, a chandelier and panoramic views. There are also more saunas, steam rooms and heated loungers here. The many treatments include the Grand Alpine Trio — snow crystal exfoliation followed by a cream wrap with Alpine plant extracts then a massage, ending with a cup of herbal tea in the tepidarium. 
Rooms: From £120, B&B. 

4. Rikli Balance Hotel, Bled, Slovenia

Best for affordable style

In the 19th-century, healer Arnold Rikli turned Bled, in the foothills of the Julian Alps into a progressive health resort focusing on fresh air, water and sunshine — and at Rikli Balance Hotel, even the saunas have a lake view. The Ziva Wellness Centre, which serves three Rikli hotels, is stylishly modern with views of Lake Bled. It’s also home to the region’s biggest swimming pool complex: six thermal water-filled pools and a waterslide in a contemporary, glass-roofed setting, as well as an outdoor pool with a backdrop of Bled castle on its clifftop perch. Massage options include mountain pine and warm local honey, while the lakeview restaurant features lake trout and a host of other local flavours. 
Rooms: From £140, B&B. 

5. Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère, Davos, Switzerland

Best for grande dame luxury

This hotel, in the heart of one of the finest mountain towns, has been serving guests on a grand scale since 1875. Here, history is combined with an understated, modern touch. The spa has widescreen mountain views, floral walls and a wealth of potted palms. Light pours into the counter-current pool, there are several saunas (including women only), and sunloungers gaze at the craggy peaks. Five restaurants range from the trad-rustic trattoria Romeo & Julia to the fine dining and striking high-ceilinged surroundings of Bistro Voilà. Davos’s famed Promenade, with shops, cafes and restaurants is just outside. 
Rooms: From £305, half-board. 

Published in the Alpine 2023 guide, distributed with the April 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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