Royal treatment, tradition endure at Black Forest spa

Visitors to the Black Forest town of Bad Wildbad have the chance to experience  a royal spa treatment — where German blue bloods once bathed — without the high price tag at the “Palais Thermal” spa.

The Palais Thermal was built between 1840 and 1847 by Nikolaus Friedrich of Thouret, a Stuttgart architect, under the reign of King Wilhelm I of Württemberg. For centuries, members of royal families from throughout Europe visited Bad Wildbad to bathe in thermal water for its healing properties. 

Today, the nostalgic character of the former bathing house is preserved through its original design, mixing floral and colorful “Art Nouveau” ornaments with golden Moorish architecture. Statues of Roman and Greek gods and goddesses also can be seen in pools throughout the bathing area.

The historical bathing temple offers 12 pools, including various whirlpools and massage pools filled with bubbling thermal water. The water temperatures vary between 32 and 38 degrees Celsius (89 to 100 degrees Farenheit). Some of the pools are divided into private bathing alcoves, or “Chambre Séparées,” designed to fit two to five people. In 1847, these pools were called “Prince Baths” and only those of royal blood were allowed to use them. Today, everyone is welcome to enter these bathing rooms.

Bad Cannstatt District Mayor, Thomas Jakob, who visits the Palais Thermal frequently, said the spa’s peaceful atmosphere puts him at ease. “It’s relaxation for body and soul and feels like a vacation,” he said.

“The warm thermal water feels really comfortable,” he added. “The bathing halls reflect the high-class culture of days gone by and invite visitors to enjoy pure relaxation.”

In the 19th century, men and women were not allowed to bathe in the same pool, so their bathing areas were separate. Today, while the Palais Thermal’s main swimming pools are co-ed, they are still referred to as the “Gentlemen’s Bath” (Herrenbad) and “Ladies Bath” (Frauenbad).

Beside the historic swimming pools, the Palais Thermal features a modern sauna and wellness area. A Roman steam bath and four types of saunas were designed to provide visitors with a chance to unwind.

Massages, peels and wellness packages ranging from hot-stone and oil massages to a white chocolate cream bath or a mocha coffee peel are also available. All wellness packages must be booked in advance. Patrons can also book a soap-brush massage: a 10-minute, full body treatment designed to increase circulation.

For a snack break, visitors can stop by the cafeteria and break room, located at the “Maurische Halle” (Moorish Hall). The room is framed by marble columns and arabesque arches and features colorful ornaments on the walls, and a mosaic floor. Here, visitors can relax in comfortable sun beds or enjoy a menu offering items such as fresh salads with feta cheese and grilled Black Forest trout.

Another highlight outside of the pools is the Bathing Museum, located next to the Herrenbad. The museum displays an overview of Bad Wildbad’s history and bathing traditions, as well as photos of aristocratic visitors.

With its historical charm and relaxing atmosphere, the Palais Thermal is one way for visitors to Bad Wildbad to escape from the cold and gray of winter.
Bathing suits are optional, but not required.

The Palais Thermal is open Monday through Friday from noon to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets cost €13.50 for a two-hour stay, €17 for a four-hour stay and €23 for a full day.

For more information, or to book a wellness package in advance, visit or call civ. 07081-303-301.