Black Forest bathing

slider-caracalla-12-slCaracalla Therme (Baden-Baden, Germany)
So good they named it twice, Baden-Baden is one of those lovely historic spa towns that still makes big business from its natural hot springs.
This place is where it all began for the sauna odyssey of the Sauna Boys so we’ve got a soft spot for this small and genteel town (which means that we can be mentioned in the same breath as Dostoyevsky, who also loved the town). We chose it as a long weekend destination for no other reason than it was the cheapest flight out of London! (again, much like Dostoyevsky).
Nestled in a valley at the edge of the Black Forest the town boasts two large sauna/spa complexes (coincidentally Baden-Baden translates to Bath-Bath) that cater for different crowds.
The first is Friedrichsbad – a Victorian monument to the ritual of Roman bathing. This upmarket establishment takes it thermal spring waters seriously.  
The second is Caracalla Therme – a family friendly spa/sauna multiplex on a 4,000 square metre site.
The huge complex is split between the main bathing area downstairs (swimwear) and the saunas upstairs (non swimwear).
The sense of space you get from the ground floor glass domed interior is impressive. It means that, coupled with a spacious outdoor bathing area, there is room for lots of various pools, plus there’s a rock grotto, steam bath, a brine inhalation room and a lazy river. My favourite are the pressure jets that pummel your shoulders into smithereens!    
The main event, however, is upstairs where you can find a large sauna room with a very good aufguss. Let’s just say you should only sit on the top tier if you like the heat you get by opening an oven door. Then there’s 7 or 8 other traditional sauna rooms of varying temperatures, a couple of which are in cabins outside, including my favourite sauna room – EVER! A room with a fire at one end which creates a really hot and dry heat. The room is quite dark, save for the fire, and the only noise is the crackling of logs. Bliss.
There’s also a good number of post sauna facilities including foot baths, a plunge pool, a solarium, cold bucket showers, drinking water and seating areas.
I really like this place. I think mainly because it’s consistently very good in all areas. Our latest visit was in October 2015 and we dragged a mate with us. He couldn’t understand why we were leaving the beer festival in Stuttgart (Wasen) to go to a quaint spa town! But he was completely converted to saunas after going there. I’ve also just read on Trip Advisor about a guy from the UK who’s been there 30 times in 25 years – wow! 
Talking of Trip Advisor – there are a number of comments on there about how busy it gets at certain times. It sounds like something that needs to be addressed if its lessening people’s experience of the place, although I wouldn’t want the owners to move to a system where you’d have to book in advance.
But the popularity of the place clearly shows that Caracalla Therme is onto something – or perhaps just reflects the fact that there isn’t much else to do in Baden-Baden! :).
In short, this is a great establishment that caters for all.
Overall sauna experience:  Cold, Warm, Hot, Top Sauna!
Facilities:  Basic, Standard, Excellent  
Cost:  £££
Summary: This place is worth going out of your way for
Trip Advisor: link

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