Few places can transport you back in time in the way Bath Spa can. Most historical sites are rather pompous, grand and emit a ‘don’t touch’ attitude – but with the baths in the center of one of Britain’s most ancient cities, it’s all about getting hands on. More than just another swimming pool or spa, the Thermae Bath Spa is steeped in history while providing unique skincare and wellbeing benefits to its vistors. I visited the newly renovated modern site last weekend, which is still served by the original hot springs; these are a wonderful, natural resource which deliver over one million litres of mineral-rich water every day. If you’re interested in the history of the baths, then it’s useful to know the water fell as rain around 10,000 years ago and then sank to a depth of about 2km below the earth’s surface; here it’s heated by high temperature rocks, before rising back up through one of the three springs in the centre of the City and cooling to the optimum bathing temperature of approximately 34 ºC. These springs directly serve the baths, providing a naturally heated and mineral enriched bathing experience that’s utterly luxurious and unlike anything I’ve come across before.
Bath and its waters have a long association with
wellbeing; the word ‘spa’ is related to the Latin phrase ‘Salus Per
Aquam’ or ‘health through water’, which is exactly what the hot baths
provide. Uniquely the water that fills the baths contains over 42
minerals and trace elements that help leave skin super smooth and soft,
while they’re thought to provide overall wellbeing and health benefits
too. (Since Roman times they’ve been thought to help a multitude of
ailments – and were even used to ‘cure’ leprosy!) The most concentrated
minerals contained within Bath’s hot springs include Sulphate, Calcium,
Chloride, Sodium, Bicarbonate, Magnesium, Silica and Iron, which
together provide a hit of nutrients without you even knowing. There’s no
obvious colour, texture or scent in the water – it just feels you’re soaking in warm
bath water that helps to relax the body and mind.
Unlike most spa experiences, the Thermae Bath Spa is not available for pre-booking. You simply have to turn up and wait in a queue for there to be an available slot (we waited around 30-45 minutes on a sunny Saturday afternoon.) Each bather is given an electronic wristband which times your two hour entry period (plus thirty minutes additional time to allow for changing and popping to the restaurant,) but apart from that you’re free to roam the beautiful building. My absolute highlight was the rooftop bath, which allows you to see over the entire city and take in the incredible views; unsurprisingly it does get busy and there’s little space for actual swimming, but the waters are so warm and soothing that you’ll find yourself happy to just stand and take in the scenery. The entry fee also includes access to the steamrooms, relaxation areas and a more traditional style pool in the basement of the building – which is also sourced by the mineral enriched hot springs.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this rather unusual and history-rich concept, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I left feeling rejuvinated and relaxed, my skin was super soft and I wanted to instantly go back for more. Although there’s very little long-term benefit (unless you regularly pop back for a bathing session,) the baths provide a relaxing way to spend an afternoon – before you take to the shops or enjoy a spot of afternoon tea. If you’re in need of something to do this weekend, or are planning a trip to Bath any time in the near future, I would thoroughly recommend taking a couple of hours out of your day to enjoy the original historical British baths.
You can bathe in the Thermae Bath Spa from £34.00 for a two hour session. Treatments and packages are also available; full information on their website: www.thermaebathspa.com
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