6 of Europe's greatest spa resorts to relax in and indulge yourself (G&T optional)

Below is an excerpt from the November 2015 edition of GINNED! Magazine about Slingsby Gin from Harrogate. Every month, Craft Gin Club Members receive a new and unique bottle of amazing small-batch gins along with several surprises that maximise enjoyment of the gin and GINNED! Magazine which is full of information about the gin, the distillery and loads of fascinating features.

Slingsby Gin, Craft Gin Club's November Gin of the Month, has the proud claim of being the first gin to be produced in the Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate.

In fact, the gin is named after William Slingsby, the man who discovered the first Harrogate springs in the 16th Century, setting in motion the town’s long history of health tourism. For centuries, people have travelled to Harrogate to ‘take the waters’, relaxing, indulging and socialising with the mineral-rich spring water – the very water, in fact, that forms the basis of "restoring" Slingsby Gin.

In honour of this spa-town tradition, we’ve put together this list of six of the best Great Spas of Europe (as designated by UNESCO), where you can enjoy a spa – and a Slingsby!

Spa - Belgium


Spa’s waters have garnered such fame over the centuries that it became the default name for towns with healing waters the world over. The original spa town’s waters’ were exported as early as the 16th Century and after Russia’s Peter the Great visited in 1717 to experience “the cure”, the town’s popularity exploded, becoming known as the “café of Europe.” The town today maintains its spa heritage with architecture such as Les Bains (right) built in the 1860s and more modern resorts like Les Thermes de Spa (above).

Vichy - France

Known as the “reine des villes d’eaux” (queen of spa towns), Vichy has enjoyed association with its springs for millennia. For several hundred years after the Romans first created a settlement, Vichy became wealthy due to its thermal springs, a wealth rediscovered in the 16th Century when prosperous patrons visited the mineral baths for their “miraculous” curing powers. In the 19th Century, celebrities frequented the town and Napoleon III took a liking to it, visiting a number of times during his reign and overseeing a redesign of the town’s layout and architecture, construction which continued into the 20th Century with the erection of the Hall des Sources (right, in the early day and above, as it looks today) which houses six of the city’s 13 main springs.

Karlovy Vary - Czech Republic

Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) is the largest spa complex in Europe holding a wealth of hot springs including 13 main springs and 300 smaller springs. Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV founded the town in 1370 when the benefits of its springs were already known and the town is named in his honour. As train links to Prague and the nearby German border town of Eger were completed in the second half of the 19th Century, the spa town’s status grew and by the start of World War I it attracted over 70,000 visitors per year. Today, the town maintains its spa fame with a number of springs situated within the Mill Colonnade built in the 1870s (above) and also holds one of the oldest film festivals in the world.

Baden-Baden - Germany

One of Europe’s most famous spa town’s was first established in 80 AD by the Romans and known as Civitas Aurelia Aquensis, a name referencing the area’s springs as well as the Roman emperors. The German term “Baden” meaning “to bathe” or “baths” was adopted in the Middle Ages but it wasn’t until the end of the 18th Century that the city’s spas regained prominence. Throughout the 19th Century, many health-conscious distinguished guested visited the city to take the waters including Queen Victoria and the city’s architecture grew around the spas including the Kurhaus (right) and in 1877, Friedrichsbad (above) both of which are popular tourist spots today. Baden-Baden adopted the double-barreled name meaning “Baden in Baden” (Baden in Baden state) in 1931 in order to distinguish itself from other popular spa towns in the German-speaking world including Baden in Switzerland and Baden bei Wien in Austria.

Baden bei Wien - Austria

Literally meaning “The Baths near Vienna”, Baden bei Wien first rose in popularity during Ancient Roman times when it was known as Thermae Pannonicae. It is primarily known for its sulphur-rich waters. A fire in 1812 razed much of the city which was subsequently beautifully rebuilt in the dominant Central-European architectural style of the time, Biedermeier, including the Kurhotel and its esplanade (right). In the 19th Century, Viennese frequented the city after the rail link was built and many buildings that still stand today were erected to cover the baths such as the Grand Hotel Sauerhof (above), complete with bust of Ludwig van Beethoven who was a regular visitor to the town.

Montecatini Terme - Italy

Known as the “Italian Carlsbad”, Tuscany’s Montecatini Terme has been recognised for its sulphuric waters since the Middle Ages but first rose to prominence beginning in the 1500s with the Medicis and Habsburgs families claiming ownership of the springs at different points in time. In the 1770s, baths were first constructed to accommodate visitors to the hot springs including Tettuccio (above).

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