From Romans to royalty and hypochondriacs to holiday-makers, natural water spas have been a common feature in society since the first century. Even today, we periodically abandon the cities to ‘take the waters’. In their heyday, Europe’s spas were the main meeting places for aristocracy, politicians and cultural elites. They were the centres of political and diplomatic intrigue, and were fertile sources of artistic, literary and musical inspiration. The spas epitomised style and were renowned for their cosmopolitan atmosphere in a glittering whirl of balls, gambling and affairs, as much as for their healing waters. Health, Hedonism & Hypochondria reveals the hidden histories of traditional spas of Europe, including such well-known resorts as the original Spa in Belgium; Bath, Buxton & Harrogate in Britain; Baden-Baden & Bad Ems in Germany; Vichy & Aix-les-Bains in France; Bad Ragaz in Switzerland; Bad Ischl & Baden bei Wien in Austria and Karlovy Vary & Marianske Lazne? in the Czech Republic. At once luxurious sanctuaries of relaxation and resorts of the upper classes, they were also the haunts of melancholics, scoundrels and those seeking escape and excitement.