The baths in the historic spa town of Bad Ischl, Austria have recently been refurbished and reopened as a the Kaisertherme thermal spa by the Eurothermen Resort Group. As you’d expect from a newly renovated spa, it is very well finished and presented in all areas with a warm, calm atmosphere. The interior designers have attempted to root the spa in its setting with thin slices of local marble attractively backlit on the walls throughout the complex. Sadly though, the interior designers could not overcome the fact that the spa complex makes very poor use of its location. The spas location in Bad Ischl has spectacular views of the surrounding Salzkammergut mountains, yet from within the spa they are barely visible, obscured by the adjoining Royal hotel and the bath house itself. It is an enormous missed opportunity that means that apart from the clean mountain air outside this bar could be almost anywhere.
The pools themselves are fairly straightforward, but nicely presented with a variety of blue dichromic mosaics throughout. The main indoor pool is a saltwater pool with reclined seating in the water along one edge aswell as massage and bubble jets, but at only 32° C it is not particularly warm and with its standard rectangular design is a little underwhelming. The adjacent saltwater whirlpool is much more pleasurable with a range of different bubble sequences including tingly fizzing effect. It’s a little warmer at 34°, but this is the hottest pool in Bad Ischl, so it’s no surprise that it can get a little crowded.
There are two outdoor pools, accessed separately from the indoor pool. The main outdoor pool is also saltwater and kept at 33°C, which although not particularly hot is comfortable for an outdoor pool. It’s a nice place to sit back and enjoy the mountain air, just watch out for the near invisible internal walls and steps hidden beneath the surface of the water, or you could end up with some nasty bruises. The other outdoor pool is far more interesting though. As the resort itself says, the lazy river is THE water attraction, and in this case it’s more of a rapids than a lazy river, with children and adults whizzing around the track. There are a few pit stops along the way with calm areas to relax and enjoy some bubble therapy, including a very cosy salz grotto. You can keep hopping between stations and when it’s time to go home, you will be sure to go for one more lap.
There are also small but nicely presented indoor and outdoor children’s pools for those with family. The basic four hour ticket costs 13Euros at the time of writing, and you can get a 10% discount if you carry a Gastekarte from a hotel in Bad Ischl with you.
The baths have a pleasant canteen style restaurant with decent quality and value food, and plenty of gallery areas with loungers if you want to take a break from the pool during your visit. Any food or drink can be recorded on your digital wristband so you don’t need to carry money with you into the pool areas. If you want saunas or spa treatments then you’ll need to purchase an additional ticket for the adjoining sauna welt, which would then allow you to move freely between the two areas.
The Eurothermen Resort in Bad Ischl is a very pleasant and well presented complex, where you can spend time relaxing and have some fun in the lazy river. However, it fails to take advantage of its location with quite poorly conceived architecture that feels like an upmarket swimming pool complex, but not the world-class facility that it ought to be. The water is not particularly warm either for a thermal spa, but if you go in with realistic expectations, you should have a good time.
The lazy river is the clear highlight, with a long track, powerful current, and three different relaxation areas along the way.
It’s just not particularly warm. Some may enjoy the slightly cooler pools but a thermal spa of this size, really should have at least one genuinely hot bath to avoid disappointing visitors.
Wherever you see a white nozzle on the side of the lazy river, put your hand over the jet directly below it underwater. Hold it there for a couple of seconds for a fun surprise.
Rating:Setting: 3/5 Architecture: 3/5 Ambience: 5/5 Facilities: 4/5 Value: 4/5 TOTAL: 19/25 (3stars)
Where to Stay
Luxury – Hotel Goldener Ochs ****
Midrange - Alpengasthof Hotel Anlager ***
Budget - Haus Strutzenberger
For more information, visit: www.eurothermen.at
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