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Georgia has Unesco World Heritage sites alongside the towering Caucasus Mountains and sandy Black Sea coastline. From cosmopolitan Tbilisi to the remote Sairme, the country is dotted with hot springs, renowned for having therapeutic qualities.
The culture of soaking in therapeutic hot or mineralised springs – known as thermalism – has been popular across Europe since ancient times, and Georgia is no stranger to that tradition. In the Soviet era, its springs were even publicly embraced by the elite, and while some destinations suffered in the 1990s, others thrived, with the country’s Imereti region joining the European Route of Historic Thermal Towns in 2017. From Tskaltubo and Sairme to the Torgva Baths, here are the top hot springs in Georgia, along with the best places to stay nearby.
Named after Georgia’s most celebrated medieval poet, Shota Rustaveli, this boutique hotel stands in the city centre opposite the Parliament. It’s a striking modern high-rise but with rounded, bastion-like corners that lend a curious touch of retro flair. Rooms and suites are sleekly modern and minimalist, with white walls, stripped floors and singed-timber detailing; some have balconies. Unique decorative touches include rows of round Rustaveli portraits above the beds and greenhouse-like glass-walled bathrooms. The on-site Restaurant Melograno specialises in Georgian and Italian cuisine, and there’s a modest rustic-looking terrace.
In the hot subtropical plains of lowland Georgia near Kutaisi, Tskaltubo’s fountain-fronted complex with an imposing columned entrance hall stands in parkland near the town centre. The radon-rich waters have long drawn the Soviet elite, from Stalin to Gorbachev, and its multiple baths and pools reputedly treat everything from skin conditions to cardiovascular disorders.
Barely a kilometre from the resort, this hotel’s facade faintly resembles a 19th-century Italianate mansion, complete with twin belvedere towers. However, the accommodation embraces contemporary pared-back design and sensible furniture. Timber accents, pendant lamps in the bar and a stripped floor in the restaurant lend more style and colour. There’s a fountain and occasional live music on the patio and a decent pool for some downtime if you’re not indulging in the hotel’s spa, which aims to complement the springs’ various therapies.
Almost a kilometre high in the thickly forested Lesser Caucasus Mountains, the Sairme waters were discovered by deer hunters in the 1890s. The resort of today (which features a deer-antler logo – sairme means “place of deer”) covers 60ha (148 acres) and has several healing springs. A substantial redevelopment project completed in 2018 saw upgraded access roads and a state-of-the-art rehabilitation centre.
Wedged into a tight valley beside the slender Tsablaristskali River, the Best Western Sairme Resort resembles an alpine apartment complex and overlooks a small recreation park dotted with trees. The outdoor heated pool, playgrounds, volleyball and basketball courts, zipline and even a shooting range all lend a relaxed feeling to the resort. Unfussy rooms feature contemporary decor with wood detailing, bare walls that feel a touch austere and balconies.
Cradled by a little foothill spur of the Caucasus in the Kakheti region, the Lopota Lake Resort and Spa overlooks a pretty private lake near the Lopota River. What began as a relatively modest family enterprise in 2008 has grown into a substantial 186-room resort with several pools, restaurants, basketball and volleyball courts, stables and horse riding. Château Buera – a mock French château-style winery and tasting terrace – was also added. While its numerous blocks and buildings have faux-rustic tiled roofs and timbered balconies, rooms are contemporary and pleasingly commodious.
Baia Dzagnidze contributed additional reporting to this article.