Baden Baden… so nice they named it twice! Only an hour and a half flight away from London, the most fashionable spa town in Europe is the perfect place to escape the city for a luxurious and relaxing break. Although it is mainly famous for its curative thermal waters, there is so much to do in a Baden Baden that a weekend is simply not enough. Put on your finest summer and evening wear and let’s explore this charming German town!
“Here at the Friedrichsbad you lose track of time within 10 minutes and track of the world within 20”. So wrote the eternally quotable American novelist Mark Twain about the Friedrichsbad – the Roman-Irish Bath – and a true shrine to the art of bathing.
Located at the foot of the Altstadt, Friedrichsbad opened its doors 140 years ago, and combines Roman and Irish bathing traditions to provide visitors with a full sensory experience unlike they have likely had before. Originally catering to the European aristocracy, this stunning neo-Renaissance style bathing house features marble, brass, colorful titles and elaborate frescoes decorating its breathtaking domes.
A visit to Friedrichsbad consists of 17 stages different stages following the Irish-Roman bathing rituals, which includes an array of baths with different temperatures, steam rooms, showers, pools, and even optional massages. Having visited the thermal waters of Bath before, I thought I knew what to expect but Friedrichsbad is certainly an experience of its own.
Good to know: Friedrichsbad is a nude bathing complex, where everyone but the staff will be completely nude. If you don’t wish to be nude in the company of members of the opposite sex, you can visit on Monday, Thursday and Saturday when men and women are taken through the stages separately. If you don’t mind being nude in a co-ed environment, then you can visit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays, and holidays. For more information on the schedule you can visit their site here.
Friedrichsbad | Römerplatz 1 76530 Baden-Baden
For more than 350 years, the Lichtentaler Allee has been the crowning jewel of all of Baden Baden. A 3.5km avenue running from the Badischer Hof hotel to the Cistercian nunnery, Lichtentaler’s beauty has been immortalized by writers who have waxed poetic about its impressive array of exotic flowers and trees, its elegant boulevards and monuments to the Belle Époque.
Serving as a art and culture mile, a stroll through Lichtentaler will take you through the Corinthian pillars of its historic Pump Room (Trinkhalle), the world-famous Kurhaus and Casino, the neo-Baroque theatre built in the style of l’Opéra in Paris, and – of course – the Festspielhaus, the second largest opera and concert hall in all of Europe.
An architectural masterpiece in the style of the Belle Époque, Kurhaus is the oldest preserved “Kurhaus” in all of Europe. Located in the heart of town, Kurhaus has been the meeting point of Baden Baden’s socialites since its opening in 1821.
Its lush interior is comprised of four different fine ball rooms, each one decorated in the baroque styles favored by French kings from Louis XIII to Louis XVI. Throughout the year these ballrooms will host Baden Baden’s most glamorous events, including balls, international festivals, concerts, meetings and congresses. Outside in its lavish Versailles-inspired gardens, the Kurgarten (“Spa Garden”), also host the annual Baden-Baden Summer Nights, a world famous series of live classical music concerts.
Spielbank Baden Baden
If you are feeling somewhat adventurous come nighttime, you may find yourself crossing the grandiose portico at Kurhaus and heading over to the iconic ‘Spielbank Baden Baden’, or Casino Baden Baden. Inspired by the palace of Versailles, Spielbank is Germany’s oldest casino and one of the most famous on earth, with emblematic German actress and singer Marlene Dietrich famously naming it “The most beautiful casino in the world”. Gambling at Spielbank is such an iconic experience that Baden Baden has been named by VikingSlots as one of the best casino destinations in the world, a list you can read here.
If you plan to visit this casino and try your luck at the tables, make sure to bring a jacket and tie as they enforce a strict dress code! If like one of my companions you don’t have a jacket with you, don’t worry as you can always rent one from them for a small fee.
Kurhaus | Kaiserallee 1, 76530 Baden-Baden, Germany
Spielbank Baden Baden | Kaiserallee 1, 76530 Baden-Baden, Germany
Lunch at Restaurant Stahlbad
If you are looking to take in the full Baden Baden experience, lunch at Stahlbad will certainly bring the best of the regional cuisine to your palate. The oldest and most traditional restaurant in all of Baden Baden, Stahlbad gives you a fantastic view of the gardens of the Lichtentaler Allee, while also offering live music and a meal to remember. While there is no way of going wrong with whatever you chose, I’d definitely recommend trying out their seafood, which is particularly sublime.
Stahlbad |Augustaplatz 2 76530 Baden-Baden
How to get there? By direct flight via Ryanair, or Eurostar from London to Brussel Gare du Midi, then Deutsche Bahn to Koln, and finally to Baden Baden.
Where to stay? At the Hotel am Sophienpark GmbH, a hotel in the city center featuring its own private park, and walking distance from virtually all sights, thermal spas and restaurants.