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Soak Society: 8 Soothing Slow Stays Near Melbourne’s Best Hot Springs and Thermal Baths

Perhaps it’s our constant craving for wellness in a post-pandemic world but hot springs and thermal baths are, well, so hot right now. Or maybe it’s because relaxing in a warm pool of water surrounded by the beauty of nature is the ultimate slow down activity. Regardless, us slow-seekers are flocking to the soak life like never before.

In Australia, Melbourne and surrounds have long been the reigning champ of natural hot springs and thermal baths. No wellness pilgrim worth their bath salt hasn’t heard of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, after all.

Thanks in part to Melbourne’s natural geology, Bathing Australia – an organisation dedicated to celebrating the ritual of bathing – has curated a list of Great Victorian Bathing Trails. Covering the 900km wellness tourism route along Victoria’s southern coastline, the list celebrates one of Melbourne’s most popular wellness activities.

And since it’s that time of year when resetting our physical and mental health is top priority, why not treat your amygdala to a proper break from the fight or flight of your daily life? Get planning and sink into one of these soothing Slow Stays near Melbourne’s best hot springs and thermal baths.

ALBA THERMAL SPRINGS AND SPA

Alba Thermal Springs & Spa

On the boot-like stretch of land that is Mornington Peninsula – a region known for all things slow travel – sits Alba Thermal Springs and Spa. Here, 100% geothermal water is filled with a restorative combination of sulphur, calcium, magnesium and potassium to help you melt away pain and stress. Bubbling to the surface from aquifers that sit 550m below the surface, the water arrives at the pools’ control room heated naturally to between 37℃ and 43.5℃. Once sanitised, it’s then diverted to Alba’s 35 warm mineral and cold plunge pools – including herb-infused scented pools – before wastewater is treated and sustainably re-injected underground.

Set among 15-hectares of regenerated native grasslands and Moonah trees, and with ongoing replanting and diversity programs (plus solar and rainwater collection), treading gently is built into more than just the daily operation. Take things even further at Alba’s day spa before nourishing your body from the inside at the Karen Martini-helmed Thyme restaurant.

PENINSULA HOT SPRINGS

Peninsula Hot Springs

Nestled into the edge of the hillside, the stepped mineral hot springs at award-winning thermal bathing stalwart Peninsula Hot Springs provide a veritable treasure trove of worldly bathing experiences. With over 70 different types of bath and spa experiences, influenced by everything from the Japanese Alps and Chinese medicine to shiatsu methods and the hammams of Turkey, a single day is not enough to experience these delights. Find a Slow Stay nearby to float away properly.

Slow Stays Near Alba and Peninsula Hot Springs

Harts Farm Mornington Peninsula
Cassis Red Hill

Hart’s Farm

Just because you’re staying on a farm, doesn’t mean a spa day is out of reach. Hart’s Farm is almost equidistant from both Peninsula Hot Springs (a 19-minute drive) and Alba Thermal Springs (18 minutes). The adults-only retreat is designed specifically for wholesome country retreats, set on a sustainably run, 10-hectare family farm – making it just the right kind of blissful to complement a thermal bath-focused getaway.

Camillo House

Only 12 minutes drive to Alba and Peninsula Hot Springs, Camillo House – with its design-forward interiors and bush-surrounded location – makes for the perfect soak-and-stay spot. Book a few days and split your time between both Fingal-based hot springs.

Cassis Red Hill

Say oui, oui to switching off at Cassis Red Hill, built in the bones of a former restaurant. Inspired by the relaxed seaside village of Cassis and the owners’ halcyon days in Aix-en-Provence, Cassis is a modern rustic enclave nestled among vineyards and Mornington Peninsula bushland. Although one of the luxurious villas and the four-person cottage have their very own mineral spring plunge pool, at only 25 minutes’ drive away, Alba Thermal Springs and Peninsula Hot Springs offer a chance to up the ante on the thermal bathing front.

METUNG HOT SPRINGS

Metung Hot Springs

As incongruous as it may seem, we have the oil drilling industry to thank for discovering mineral hot springs in East Gippsland in the 1930s. Now, clinging to a cliffside overlooking Lake King only four hours from Melbourne, Metung Hot Springs has been built to harness the benefits of the warm waters welling from deep below. Book into either Bathing Ridge, a family friendly location where you can explore heated thermal and cold plunge pools plus saunas, spa treatments and nature walks; or the over-16s only Hilltop Escarpment. A stargazing pool and unique bathing barrels with views across the placid lake complete the scene.

Slow Stays Near Metung Hot Springs

Lakeview Retreat Metung
Mountford Cottage Metung

Lakeview Retreat

From waking to views of Lake King to soaking in the thermal waters overtop the same scenery after just a short stroll, proximity is queen at Lakeview Retreat. With space for up to five people and within walking distance of Metung Hot Springs, this Slow Stay is made for indulgent weekends with friends or family.

Mountford Cottage

Another gem within walking (or cycling) distance to Metung Hot Springs, Mountford Cottage’s rustic-chic interiors set the scene for a romantic weekend for two. From loved-up picnics in the backyard to sitting in front of a crackling fire, good book in hand, bathing days can be offset by lazy days in cosy comfort.

The Little House

Staying at Nungurner’s Little House it’s hard to believe you’re less than a handful of hours from inner-city Melbourne. But here the rustic cabin sits, on an escarpment above dolphin-filled lake waters and only minutes by car from Metung Hot Springs. Ahh, the serenity.

DEEP BLUE HOT SPRINGS SANCTUARY

Deep Blue Hot Springs - Warrnambool

Along the Great Ocean Road in Warrnambool, where geothermal wells of warm water bubble to the surface from 850 metres below, Deep Blue Hot Springs Sanctuary sits ready to welcome anyone in need of rejuvenation. Billed as a bathing sanctuary, Deep Blue’s open-air rock pools, waterfalls and sensory caves are brimming with minerally rich waters ideal to soothe, relax and destress. Book in for two-hour sessions from morning to twilight (until 9pm) or choose one of the packages for a complete experience.

Slow Stay Near Deep Blue Hot Springs

Warrnambool Retreat

Warrnambool Retreat

Like stepping back in time into a 1930’s Art Moderne dream, this lovingly renovated Slow Stay is an excellent base for exploring the delights of the Great Ocean Road. Consisting of a duo of cosy units (Merri and Henna), the retreat is in the heart of charming Warrnambool and only five minutes’ drive to Deep Blue.

HEPBURN SPRINGS BATHHOUSE AND SPA

Peppers Mineral Springs Hotel Hepburn

An institution of wellness bathing since 1895, there’s a reason that Hepburn Springs Bathhouse and Spa numbers among the most popular of hot springs and thermal baths near Melbourne. Only 1.5 hours from Melbourne’s buzzing laneways, the bathhouse is home to the full gamut of day spa-slash-hot-spring experiences. Book into one of the well-rounded spa or bathing packages before enjoying a Devonshire tea in the tranquil setting of the Spring’s heritage-listed Pavilion.

Desta Cullen

Desta Cullen is a writer and editor who crafts stories of food, culture and travel with a particular love of sustainability, slow fashion, creativity and conscious lifestyles. When she's not working, she spends her time digging in op-shops for pre-loved treasures, attempting to garden and turn the family home into a bright, art-filled junglescape.

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