Cafe Beeg is an old-school German cafe, formal atmosphere, delicious food, cakes and coffee. What makes it wonderful is that it is so welcoming to children - they warmed our daughter's baby meal, brought it out on a silver salver, with doily and her own spoon.
The adult meals were the best we had this trip and the cakes ... ah the cakes. To die for, with a selection of about 25 different kinds. Naturally including the region's speciality: Black Forest Gateau.
The Caracalla spa is the new spa in Baden-Baden and is sparklingly lovely. It has a creche for children. It's worth noting (Lonely Planet doesn't mention this!) that none of the spas in Baden-Baden let children under seven years old in as they all use the local thermal water, which is unsafe for small children.
When you arrive at Baden-Baden, switch off your satnav and follow the signs for the "Bädergarage" to park right underneath Caracalla. Entry for three hours is €17 per adult and parking costs €1 for 3 hours - bargain!
Cafe Beeg: Gernsbacherstrasse 44-46, 76530 Baden-Baden, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany +49722136760
Google map: bit.ly/fa274U
Caracalla: CARASANA Bäderbetriebe GmbH • Römerplatz 1, D-76530 Baden-Baden
+49 (0) 7221 2759-20,-40
Google map: bit.ly/dTHxkO
Ryanair fly to Karlsruhe-Baden from Stansted with fares rarely more than a fiver. Flight timetables are perfect (out Friday evening after work, back Sunday night) meaning you can spend a long weekend enjoying the spas at Baden-Baden. There are two: the modern Caracella, which has a family atmosphere with large thermally heated pools, and the Roman Friedrichsbad. Enjoy coffee and cake in one of the smart cafes in the pedestrianised town centre and maybe take in the opera or a concert in the cultural district. You needn't worry about paying extra for hold luggage because in the Roman baths (and parts of the Caracella), it's compulsory not to wear clothes, so you can ignore the airline's swingeing baggage restrictions.
Forgo any inhibitions and don your birthday suit in Germany's thermal bath mecca. Caracalla spa has a variety of indoor and outdoor spas and saunas to keep you relaxed yet stimulated throughout the day. Nudity is the norm in the upstairs sauna level, so when in Rome. In January the bath’s central building and surrounds lights up at night, creating a glowing atmosphere. And if it snows during an outdoor bath session, even better for a magical winter break.
This modern public spa is well worth the very reasonable entry fee - I'd advise you go for the maximum four-hour ticket. Downstairs there is a large indoor pool and two outside pools (both very warm) and lots of steam rooms and saunas to visit.
Up a spiral staircase is the sauna world where there are many different saunas and steam rooms, including two outside in log cabins. At the top of the stairs you must remove your costumes and place then in an open pigeon-hole, as this is a strictly nude-only area. Occasionally a visitor doesn't realise this and is usually quickly approached by a staff member and told to disrobe or leave! Good really I suppose as it stops any voyeur element being there. Although the nudity feels odd at first we got used to it incredibly quickly and it just felt right. However you must have a towel with you when you enter the saunas or use the loungers in the rest areas - this must be placed underneath you so that no part of your body is directly touching the seat - this includes your feet. Wandering around or sitting in the communal area it seems about half the people wrap themselves in a towel the other half go naked - either is perfectly acceptable. The whole place is a quiet area with people talking quietly, there is piped ambient music throughout, and combined with the nudity make this one of the most relaxing few hours anyone could spend. Went there a few times when we were in the Baden area and at all times in the sauna world area there was a fairly 'normal' mix of genders and ages, and all shapes and sizes - again helping make this a great place to be.
Baden Baden - near centre of town.
You should definitely visit the modern Caracalla spa (Friedrichsbad is the older, rougher around the edges and also more expensive bath house) when in Baden-Baden or the local area.
Entry can be purchased for 2, 3 or 4 hours for 12, 14, 16 Euro accordingly. I'd advise picking 4 hours for the extra 4 euro as time flies once you're inside. With over 3000 square metres of indoor and outdoor pools, it rivals any spa I have visited at 4 times the price elsewhere in Europe.
Once you have spent an hour or so relaxing in the pool and loungers make your way upstairs to the Roman sauna scape. Be warned though, this area is completely nude as a multilingual sign warns you on the door and you discover quite abruptly upon entering.
My boyfriend and I were quite shocked at first being of a classically prudish English nature but when in Rome as they say. After removing your swimwear you are free to enjoy a wonderful series of connected saunas, steam rooms, plunge pools, hot tubs and relaxation areas at your leisure. Especially recommended are the outdoor Swedish and Norwegian log cabin saunas (and ice cold outdoor showers between the two) along with the blue space room where you lie on plastic pods in a dimmed blue aura and feel ambient music vibrate inside the bed and through your body. Be careful not to fall asleep as we did though and miss your time limit, a penalty fare of 3 euros per 15 minutes is charged when leaving the spa.
For those who may also feel a little prudish, I can say after our initial nerves we found the atmosphere upstairs to be very respectful and relaxed as well as obviously highly liberating and invigorating. The unwritten rule seems to be very much a stare into middle distance with the odd curious glance down or across permitted, definitely no staring or pointing though. We visited on a weekday afternoon and the majority of visitors were middle aged men and women both single and in couples but it was also refreshing to find younger French and German couples and singles in their early twenties, like us, enjoying the sauna without any qualms.
One final word of warning for ladies though, 95% of girls on the continent seem to be opting to visit waxing salons for Brazilians or Hollywoods before their visits, whether or not this was inspired by our own WAGs visit to Baden Baden earlier this year I wouldn't like to say.
Caracalla Therme Spa website:
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