Visiting the Spas in Europe
Living Waters Clothing Optional Spa is a European-style spa patterned after the spas in Europe. In our travels we have visited some incredibly large “Disney-like” spas and some smaller, neighborhood style ones as well. We have brought back a blend of some of finest spas in Europe to Living Waters. One thing that they all have in common is that the SAUNA areas are mandatory nude.
This can be quite a challenge for some American travelers. But what we tell our guests here is that ultimately what seems a big deal is really no big deal at all. In Europe entire families visit the spas/saunas together and enjoy them au naturel.
We observed that in much of the European culture simple nudity is not an issue.
This was made evident to us as we visited the spas and saw that with some of them you could look right in and see naked people right from the street!
One night at dinner we sat next to a German man who had gone to college in San Diego and made the following observation: “There is a striking difference between we Germans and you Americans regarding violence and nudity. In our movies if it says no one under 17 we really mean it. Even if accompanied by a parent we do not allow children to see… VIOLENCE! We have no problem with simple nudity but we do have a big problem with violence. You Americans, on the other hand, have a big problem with nudity – even a mother breastfeeding her baby – but violence is OK. Your children see people getting murdered, blown up, and dismembered… but simple, non-sexual nudity is BAD.”
He had no clue that we owned a European-style clothing-optional spa. It was very honest (and sad) observation. Here are a few highlights of some of the spas we visited. We were respectful of the no camera policies so many of the inside shots are gathered from the internet.
In Baden-Baden we visited two thermal baths, the modern Caracalla Spa and the historic Roman-Irish Friedrichsbad.
Caracalla Spa is a large European spa. They have a ground floor area where bathing suits are mandatory and contains a large indoor pool that then flows outdoors. Both the in and outdoor pools have various zones featuring water massage jets and fountains.
The outdoor pool has a large whirlpool feature where the water is pushing you in a large circle around a still middle area. The second floor of Caracalla is the “sauna” area and as you walk upstairs you come to a doorway that tells you that you are entering a no bathing suit area. As you enter there are places to place your bathing suits.
The upper area has many different saunas, steam rooms, and cold plunges as well as outdoor wood fired saunas. Nearby are quiet “sun” rooms where you can work on your all over tan.
Friedrichsbad is also large. When opened in 1877, this ‘temple of wellbeing’ was considered to be the most modern bathing establishment in Europe. Since then the fascination that surrounds it hasn’t changed. The relaxing and enjoyable experience that is unique to the Friedrichsbad is a result of the changing sequence of warm and hot dry air baths, a soap & brush massage, steam baths of varying intensity and a selection of thermal pools along with thermal water showers.
Friedrichsbad features a 17 step routine that you can follow: shower, warm air, hot air, shower, massage, shower, steam, hot steam, full bath, whirlpool bath, exercise bath, shower, cold bath, towel down, cream application, relaxation and reading. You can take these steps at your own pace and make a day of your experience. This is also nude mandatory but there are days where the men are in one section and the women in the other, meeting together in the central pool.
In Schwangau you can visit the Hohenschwangau Castle and the amazing Neuschwanstein Castle – the one after which Walt Disney patterned his Sleeping Beauty Castle. However what most American travelers do not realize is that about 2 miles from the castles there is the fantastic Kristall Therme Schwangau. After we visited the Castles we took the 2-mile walk to the “therme.” It features two levels. The first level contains indoor and outdoor pools and restaurant for those who wish to wear a bathing suit. The second level is the nude mandatory sauna area with several options of saunas and a restaurant. From here you can soak while enjoying a breathtaking view of the castles and Alps.
We experienced our first infusion sauna experience here. At certain scheduled times an attendant comes into the room, gives instructions we assume (it was in German so we had to guess!), pours scented water on the rocks, whips a towel high above our heads which distributes the hot air, then goes around the room snapping a towel in front of each person. This process is generally repeated 3 times. The sensation is fabulous, an intense burst of hot air. The saunas come in different temperatures and some were over 190 degrees!
Most Americans go there for the Sound of Music tour or the amazing fortress and churches but in the heart of the new side of the city is the Paracelsus Bad & Kurhaus.
It is truly a city spa with wonderful offerings for visitors. Downstairs is a huge pool with youth/child play area. The upstairs is the sauna area with several saunas of varying temps as well as a cold plunge. Upstairs is also a cafe.
Munich, what a wonderful city. Besides all the museums, open air markets, bier gartens and the surfers on the waves in the Eisbach river at the city’s Englischer Garten, there is the largest water park / spa /sauna just one hour outside of Munich called Therme Erding. This place defies description as it is SO huge.
On the day we visited it we only spent time in the nude area which has 22 different saunas and several pools. The primary one is huge and has various water features of bubbles, sprays, loungers. It is both indoor and outdoor with a swim-up bar. On the day we were there, there were over 500 nude guests enjoying the facility and it never felt crowded. Massages are offered, and there are several restaurants.
On the second floor balcony there are all kinds of loungers for relaxation. If you are ever in Munich, you MUST give an afternoon or day to Therme Erding.
The former imperial town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the perfect place to experience medieval and renaissance life in Germany as it was actually lived. Narrow towers and imposing ramparts; winding alleyways and picturesque oriels; half-timbered houses lovingly decorated with window boxes and hanging baskets; colorful gardens made for rest and relaxation; large churches that invite meditation and prayer and the famous Night Watchman tour!– these are just some of the things that attract visitors from all over the world to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Just outside the walls of Rothenburg we discovered the Franken Freizeit Sauna which seems to be a locals favorite. It has a large downstairs pool, outdoor pools (summer use only) and a nice upstairs sauna area complete with outside nude sunbathing.
Bad Ems, Germany
Our last spa / sauna, Emser Therm, was in a fantastic town of Bad Ems. It was one of the newest spas we visited with very modernist architecture. It is situated alongside the river Lahn and even has a “sauna barge” located at the river and on the water.
There is a family friendly pool area, and separate nude spa zone. Europeans and especially the German culture value the “taking of the waters” for health and vitality.