The town and its baths are a rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches story going back to the Cherokee who considered the place magical. It’s been home to grand hotels with roman baths, a confinement camp for Germans during World War I and today a rugged oasis on the Appalachian Trail. The spa itself in recent years has been transformed from a bare-bones collection of massage rooms and outdoor Jacuzzis to luxury spa in the truest sense, offering wraps and facials as well as an assortment of massages. You can book any of their services online at their website.

Most popular are the tubs, private whirlpools recessed into decks alongside a creek and the French Broad River. Each is private, and the water that flows in is fresh and naturally hot, without a trace of chlorine or the rotten-egg smell normally associated with geothermal springs. Each tub is drained and scrubbed between uses. A soak at Hot Springs is the perfect end of a day of walking and climbing stairs at the Biltmore Estate, rafting, or after hiking the nearby Lovers Leap Loop or Max Patch trails.