Soak it in at our pick of Beijing's hot springs

We tested the waters to find the best hot springs to wash away winter blues

Chun Hui Yuan Hot Spring Resort

Our verdict Comfortable, discreet and great for a night under the stars

Chun Hui Yuan Hot springs

What’s it like?
Chun Hui Yuan bucks the trend in the world of Beijing hot springs, forgoing kitsch adornments and faux tropical scenes for something more stylish, with classic wooden trellises and sleek stone furnishings dominating the decor. The baths are divided into three areas – one indoors, two outdoors – and vary in size with plenty of options for both couples looking for a bit of privacy and large groups. The Garden Baths garner the most attention: ten steaming open-air pools offer different types of aromatic-infused waters to help relaxation; stay here into the evening for a soak under the stars. The next-door Lakeside Baths shouldn’t be missed either, offering views of Chun Hui Yuan Hotel’s grounds beyond.

Facilities
Alongside the 30-odd baths, Chun Hui Yuan has a heated indoor swimming pool, hot stone resting beds, steam rooms and saunas – the ‘hot’ sauna even has a plunge pool and television for optimum chill time. There’s an onsite spa offering a range of treatments, including a 40-minute foot massage (88RMB) and a whole-body oil massage (398RMB). Yu Zhuang, Gaoliying town, Shunyi district (6945 4433 ext 1030; chunhuiyuan.cn). Open 9.30am-midnight Mon-Fri; 9.30am-1am Sat-Sun. 168RMB Mon-Fri; 268RMB Sat-Sun.顺义区高 丽营镇于庄村


Feng Shan Hot Spring Paradise

Our verdict Surreal surroundings ideal for those with a sense of the ridiculous

feng shan hotsprings

What’s it like?
Feng Shan offers paradise from the perspective of a particularly sleazy toddler, bashing you over the head with a landscape of concrete caves, plastic rocks, frog-shaped fountains and semi-submersed basketball hoops until you have no choice but to grin and embrace the out-and-out chutzpah of it all. It’s huge, it’s tasteless – unless your taste runs parallel to that of Hugh Hefner – and it’s open 24 tacky hours of the day.

Provincial leisure centre on acid it might be, but we enjoy this psychedelic idyll precisely because, at the end of the day, lying on a bubble bed next to a model elephant is always going to be a giggle. And if you look beyond the glare from the fairylights and illuminated swans, the outside spring area offers spectacular views of the nearby mountains.

Facilities
Feng Shan offers stacks of reasonably private pools both inside and out, with noticeably different water temperatures and mineral levels. There’s also a 25-metre swimming pool complete with disco-tastic decor, some toasty kang beds, saunas and a cinema. 10 Mangshan Lu, Changping district (60713942). Open 24 hours daily. 198RMB Mon-Fri; 238RMB Sat-Sun. 昌平区蟒山路10号


Longxi Hotspring Resort

Our verdict A faux-tropical mega resort for salt baths and herbal soaks

longxi

What’s it like?
Longxi Hotspring Resort’s system of small tubs and larger swimming pools offer a great mix of relaxing getaway vibes and waterpark thrills. While the resort’s heyday may have passed – the wood-panelled walls and kitschy decor could use a bit of a revamp – Longxi is still great for a warming winter soak.

Designed to look like a tropical paradise, upon entering the steamy hot springs as you navigate your way through lush paths lined with real plants and rock walls, you’ll find the mineral-rich baths hidden around corners and under wooden pagodas and infused with wine, tea and other delicious smells. Given the number of tubs inside, chances are high bathers will always be able to find one that’s unoccupied.

Facilities
As well as a spa offering various treatments at an additional cost, there’s a children’s play area, medicated baths and – our favourite – a crystal salt bath said to detox the body and soothe aching joints (bring a swim cap). 8 Shunjing Lu, Daxing District (8928 2222) 熙温泉度假酒店,大各庄景路8


Shunjing Spa

Our verdict Peaceful spa within the Fourth Ring

shunjing hot spring

What’s it like?
Shunjing Spa’s baths are clean, tastefully decorated and, with more than 90 indoor pools to choose from, finding a quiet spot is simple enough. Like something out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the setting is fairly mystical: sunlight streams through the glass roof, soft lanterns create an ethereal glow and smoky wooden bridges link rock pathways to the pools. The fake trees and plastic castle in the kid’s pool shatter the illusion somewhat, but fortunately aren’t too invasive.

Outside, vivid evergreens, springs and wooden pagodas feel authentic for the most part, but with fewer than a dozen baths in the garden – all of which back onto the Fourth Ring Road – for outdoor bathing, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Facilities
Inside, there’s a pool for everyone with waters measuring from 30-50°C – including particularly nourishing 'extra-mineral-rich' pools. There are saunas, hot stone beds and a range of spa treatments, like body massages (298RMB for an hour) and pedicures (98RMB for 45 minutes). A reasonably priced bar and buffet (98RMB), free Wi-Fi and cinema deliver sustenance and entertainment. 2 North Fourth Ring Road, Chaoyang district (5827 1888 ext 1). Open 24 hours daily. 238RMB.朝阳区北四环东路2号


Jiuhua Hot Spring

Our verdict Forbidden City meets Atlantis – it’s the emperor’s pool party

jiuhua hotsprings

What’s it like?
Purportedly situated on a site where emperors past used to revel in toasty volcanic aqua, Jiuhua’s recent renovations have left it with more of a lido-cum-spa feel, so its connection with nature feels somewhat lost. Nevertheless, it still sources hot water from 1,230m below the ground and its wide range of pools and reasonable price point make it a decent choice for a rejuvenating dip. And from higher vantage points, the distant northern mountains are visible, provided the skies are clear.

Facilities
The outdoor space sees a whole host of herbal and heated baths surround a central swimming pool – all with different properties and health benefits – to help soothe the skin, tired muscles, blood pressure and the soul. Indoor facilities include numerous saunas and steam rooms, therapeutic showers and even a fish pedicure pool. The kids can be dropped off at the pool and play area, while complimentary post-soak rubdowns are available in the pleasant changing rooms. A basic range of snacks and drinks are also on sale. Xiaotangshan town, Changping district (6178 2288; jiuhua.com.cn). Open 9am-midnight daily. 180RMB. 昌平区小汤山枯柳树 环岛东400 米


No. 8 Hot Springs Club

Our verdict A nudist hot spring next to Chaoyang Park

no 8 hotspirngs

What’s it like?
Located west of Chaoyang Park, this city-based spa feels more like a classy bathhouse than the usual sprawling resorts found in the suburbs. The spring here is natural and has been tapped from 2,500m below ground.

Facilities
Men and women bathe in separate areas and nudity is mandatory. Submerging into the soothing water feels like entering an enormous bath, and each area also includes a spacious sauna and a steam-filled Finnish bath. While a basic buffet is included in the price (the club also provides faux silk peach pyjamas to protect your modesty), massages, manicures and scrubs are available for an additional cost. 8 Chaoyang Gongyuan Xi Lu, Chaoyang district (6591 8888). Open 24 hours daily. 198RMB for up to 18 hours.朝阳区公园西路 8 号


WTown Hotsprings

Our verdict The one with the view

w town hotsprings

What’s it like?
WTown resort is located 130km northeast of downtown Beijing, where the Simatai Great Wall partitions the capital from surrounding Hebei. A stone warren of villas and meandering canals, WTown’s picturesque setting is an interesting backdrop for the sing ‘n’ soak KTV bathtubs that make up one of the resort’s several hot spring offerings. From nightfall, the Great Wall is lit up and offers a spectacular backdrop if you opt for any one of the al fresco pools. If not, it’s your partner’s gaze.

Facilities
There are two distinctly different hot spring experiences on offer at WTown Hotsprings, and while both of them involve KTV, only one offers pole dancing. For the couples, luxurious private rooms include the spring, KTV screen, microphones, unlimited reverb and seasonal fruit platter. For the racier, there’s a wet hall with roughly ten disco-lit personal pools encircling a podium complete with floor-to-ceiling pole, 'hired entertainment' and a Gongti-style bar that delivers drinks to your pool. WTown Beijing, Gubeikou town, Miyun county (8100 9999 ; wuzhen.com.cn). Open 1-11.30pm daily. 258RMB. 北京市密云县古北口镇

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