Saunas are fun, but do you ever get bored of staring at wooden walls or your neighbor's dripping back? If so, there's good news. Thanks to a new generation of super-heat-resistant tempered glass, manufacturers like Germany's Klafs are now able to construct traditional saunas with large or even full-length windows. Here are five places where you can get steamed up about the scenery.
1. Monart, www.monart.ie
Located among 119 acres (48 hectares) of Irish woodland in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, this sequestered sanctuary constructed two years ago as a day spa and 68-room resort offers two saunas that look out onto manicured greenery. Created by landscape architect Mary Reynolds, the gardens feature ornamental lily ponds crisscrossed by whimsical stone bridges. Other facilities at Monart include a salt grotto and a traditional hammam.
2 Georgshöhe, www.georgshoehe.de
On the remote, wind-lashed German island of Norderney, you can watch the drama of the North Sea (fast-rising tides, violent spindrift and strong gales) unfold before your eyes from the quartet of mixed-gender saunas and steam rooms at this beachside redoubt. When you're done, an ice-cold plunge pool awaits.
3. Carlton Hotel, www.carlton-stmoritz.ch
Having undergone an 18-month, $60 million makeover at the hands of local interior designer Carlo Rampazzi, St. Moritz's Carlton Hotel reopened late last year, featuring an oval-shaped sauna with views of the saw-toothed peaks of the Upper Engadine Valley. In the Germanic tradition, a theatrical Aufguss (pouring of water) is performed on the hour, during which an attendant drenches the hot stones with water scented with spruce, birch, eucalyptus or pine, and then circulates the searing air with 15 minutes of towel-flapping.
4. Vigilius, www.vigilius.it
Situated along a dramatic, larch-covered couloir at a rarefied altitude of 1,500 m (4,900 ft.) in the heart of the South Tyrolean Dolomites, the Vigilius Mountain Resort is a 41-room aerie, accessible only by cable car, and designed as a holistic, carbon-neutral hideaway by native Matteo Thun. One side of its sauna is taken up with a single pane of tempered floor-to-ceiling glass that lets you "dream and participate in the magic of day and night," according to its effusive creator. Of course, you could always just sit back and enjoy the view of the mountains.
5. Hotel Arts Barcelona, www.hotelartsbarcelona.com
From your lofty perch on the 43rd floor of this luxurious skyscraper, Barcelona's tallest, you can enjoy vertiginous vistas of both the Mediterranean and the Catalan capital from a pair of sex-specific saunas. The recently unveiled Six Senses Spa, which is spread across two floors of this 154-m (500 ft.) high tower of blue glass and skeletal steel, also features a pair of "vitality pools" that benefit from the same breathtaking panorama.
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