What is it about hot tubs? Suddenly, they are regarded as, well, cool. Plenty of people now have them at home in their gardens, and social media is awash with folk relaxing in steamy waters — a recent snap of actress Courteney Cox and David Beckham splashing about generated gossip galore.
Hot tubs date back to those clever old Ancient Greeks, who erected outdoor marble bathtubs at volcanic calderas.
The earliest known example, from the 1st century BC, is on the Aegean island of Ikaria. Japanese onsen and Roman baths followed, but the modern hot tub craze began in earnest in Forties America.
Fast-forward to today, and just about every self-respecting high-end hotel, chalet and self-catering property possesses one. Here, from South Devon to Sri Lanka, we have picked out some of the world’s best hot tubs with a view . . .
Relaxing retreat: The hot tub at Deer Lodge on Canada’s Lake Louise
You won’t feel the sub-zero temperatures while basking in the splendid octagonal rooftop hot tub at Deer Lodge on Canada’s Lake Louise. Look out across the adjacent Victoria Glacier, a vast wilderness of pine forest, and the Rockies in this Christmas card-style wonderland.
What’s it like? Close to Lake Louise, one of Canada’s top ski resorts, in Banff National Park, Deer Lodge is a century-old hotel with hand-hewn log walls, hearty food and 71 comfortable rooms.
Tipple in the tub: An ice-cold Moosehead lager would be perfect.
How to do it: B&B doubles start from £85 (crmr.com).
Beaches and bubbles
The wood-fired hot tub at Cliff House in Torcross, South Devon, faces the long beach at photogenic Slapton Sands
The wood-fired hot tub at Cliff House in Torcross, South Devon, faces the long beach at photogenic Slapton Sands. On the other side of a sandbar is a secluded inland lake.
What’s it like? Cliff House is an award-winning self-catering property that sleeps ten, with a grand kitchen, a games room with a pool table and a patio with a barbecue in a pretty garden.
Tipple in the tub: A glass of Sharpham Sparkling Blanc, made in South Devon.
How to do it: Three-night stays from £1,650 (caninecottages.co.uk).
Up close with sea life
Admire multicoloured fish flickering in the crystal-clear waters of the Indian Ocean beneath your glass-bottomed hot tub in one of the Over Water Pool Villas at Anantara Kihavah, in the Maldives. It’s only a few steps down a ladder to cool off in the ocean itself.
What’s it like? This high-end resort has a spa, a star-gazing observatory and dining in an underwater restaurant.
Tipple in the tub: A G&T at sunset.
How to do it: Over Water Pool Villas from £869 per night (anantara.com).
OR HOW ABOUT A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT KIND OF TUB…
Lie in a beer bath large enough for two for 25 minutes and enjoy the benefits to your skin that are said to be provided by beer yeast at the Bjórböðin spa in northern Iceland.
The beer is non-alcoholic and not for drinking, but taps beside the tubs offer beer from an on-site microbrewery.
It is recommended not to wash for a few hours afterwards, in order to allow the beer yeast to work its magic.
Or visitors can shower and go for another soak in the outdoor (water) hot tub, which takes up to 14 people, with fine views of Hrísey island and the surrounding mountains.
The Bjórböðin beer spa opened in 2017.
How to do it: The beer bath costs £3.15, while the outdoor tub is £12 (bjorbodin.is/eng).
Hot tub in the clouds
A large, square hot tub with magnificent views across Shanghai’s neon-soaked skyline is provided in the Cloud On The Bund top-floor suite at the W Shanghai, in China.
The suite also has a ‘wall’ made up of 16 televisions (for very wide-screen viewing), a suspended birdcage bed . . . and a five-figure price tag.
What’s it like? There’s a spa and a huge outdoor heated pool at this hip hotel in the North Bund district.
Tipple in the tub: Ice-cold green tea or a Tsingtao beer.
How to do it: Suite from £7,460 per night (marriott.co.uk).
Time for tea
From the hot tub at the Dunkeld Bungalow at Ceylon Tea Trails in Bogawantalawa Valley, in Sri Lanka, you can gaze across the expanse of Castlereagh Lake and the tea-making Hill Country.
What’s it like? The 27 smart rooms are spread across five restored planters’ bungalows at an altitude of 4,100 ft. Tours of working tea estates and visits to ravines and waterfalls can be organised.
Tipple in the tub: Iced tea or a G&T.
How to do it: Dunkeld rooms from £430 per night all-inclusive; minimum stay two nights (resplendentceylon.com).
The eight-person penthouse at L’Apogée Courchevel hotel in the Three Valleys, in the French Alps, comes with a wood-barrel hot tub with wonderful mountain views.
What’s it like? Chic Courchevel 1850 is the highest resort in the Three Valleys, with 55 rooms, underfloor-heated balconies, a gourmet Japanese restaurant and a top spa.
Tipple in the tub: Moet & Chandon or Veuve Clicquot, naturellement.
How to do it: The penthouse costs from £8,450 per night (oetkercollection.com).
Really wild show
Wow-factor: A terrace plunge pool at andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge in KwaZulu Natal, in South Africa
Bathtubs facing wide windows and terrace plunge pools — not exactly hot tubs, you might say, but just as good — enable private game-watching at the andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge in KwaZulu Natal, in South Africa.
What’s it like? In ‘Big Five’ territory, Phinda Rock has six huge stone-and-adobe suites, each built into a cliffside facing the valley. The main lodge features a dinner verandah with views out across the plains. Game drives depart twice daily.
Tipple in the tub: A glass of chilled white wine from South Africa’s Stellenbosch region.
How to do it: From £570 per night (andbeyond.com).
Luxury by the Lake
Guests can book hourly slots in the stone tub overlooking Lake Windermere and foggy fells at The Samling hotel in the Lake District
Guests can book hourly slots in the stone tub overlooking Lake Windermere and foggy fells at The Samling hotel in the Lake District. The hot, frothing waters will help soothe tired walkers’ weary legs.
What’s it like? A glamorous, 12-suite escape that promises flexibly priced fine dining and the area’s best wine list. Hot toddies can be arranged before bedtime, and there are 67 acres of grounds in which to stroll.
Tipple in the tub: Champagne is stocked in the spa.
How to do it: B&B doubles cost from £230 per night (thesamlinghotel.co.uk)
Fantastic Fjords and Northern Lights
The superb cylindrical hot tub outside the Panorama Glass Lodge in Hvalfjordur, in Iceland, lies opposite a quiet, remote fjord with snow-capped peaks beyond
The superb cylindrical hot tub outside the Panorama Glass Lodge in Hvalfjordur, in Iceland, lies opposite a quiet, remote fjord with snow-capped peaks beyond. In the winter months, it’s possible to see the Northern Lights.
What’s it like? The superb glass-walled, glass-ceilinged bedroom at the lodge allows for further viewing of the Northern Lights. The surrounding Hvalfjordur (fjord of the whales) is also home to Iceland’s highest waterfall, Glymur.
Tipple in the tub: A shot of Brennivín, a popular Icelandic firewater, or perhaps a Kaldi Blonde beer.
How to do it: Two-night self-catering stays cost from £662 (coolstays.com).
Watching the ships roll in
See ships chugging across the sunlit green waters of the vast Seto Inland Sea from the gurgling hot tub of the View Bath Suite at Hotel Ofutei in Tomonoura, Japan.
What’s it like? The hotel also has rooftop pools fed by hot springs, a spa and a restaurant where sashimi is made out of the famed local bream.
Tomonoura is a pretty and well-preserved port with many temples. Actor Hugh Jackman filmed scenes here for his 2013 film The Wolverine.
Tipple in the tub: Chilled sake (Japanese rice wine).
How to do it: Suite from £510 half-board per night (ofutei.com).