Expect water, and lots of it. The Thermae Bath Spa, which has been open in central Bath since 2006, is not just a building but an historical restoration. And so the spa is both gorgeously antique and beautifully modern. The city of Bath, or to call it by the name the Roman’s bestowed upon it, Aquae Sulis, is famous for its natural hot springs. When the Georgians arrived in Bath they revitalised the city, rebuilding many of the Roman baths and in so doing turning Bath in to a socialites retreat where ‘taking the waters’ was 'de rigeur'.
The Thermae Bath Spa is Britain's only natural thermal spa. If you are expecting opulence and lusciousness you might be disappointed. But you shouldn’t be - looks can be deceiving. The interiors are calm, clean and tranquil. The focus here is clear, being firmly on the healing and restorative powers of the waters, just as both the Romans and the Georgians advocated.
Our spa visit
I took my friend along for the spa visit who, as a mother of three and local business owner, was an excellent candidate to help test the restorative powers of the water and relaxing ambience of the spa.
The spa smells wonderful, from your very first step inside, meaning that even pre-treatment you already have a feeling of being re-energised and cleansed. There is a tricky reception process to get through to access the spa that involves a high tech locker key and personal billing system that sits on your wrist as a bracelet. Don’t be too confused and just go with the flow, as this makes things fuss free whilst you spend your allotted time there. It also helps you to find your locker when time is up!
I took the Classic Thermae package, priced at £99, which included a four hour general spa usage session (most spa sessions are timed), complimentary robe and slippers, two course meal with non-alcoholic drink, use of the Kraxen Stove and the choice of an Aromatherapy Hot Oil massage or a Thermae facial.
The spa is set across several floors and getting to your destination will mean concentrating, given its rambling nature. My advice would be to use one of the two lifts; you are there to take it easy, after all!
The Minerva pool and Kraxen Stove
First stop for us was the largest thermal pool, named after the Roman Goddess of Health and Wisdom, Minerva. This pool is spacious and quiet and wonderfully slow. There is a current pull at one end that allows you drift slowly through the water, which is fantastically relaxing. There is also a whirlpool and a super strong massage jet. Here we floated, chatted and perused until it was time for my first treatment, the Kraxen Stove. My friend chose to wait in one of the many comfortable reclining chairs on this floor, reading from the wide selection of magazines on offer.
The Kraxen stove is essentially a sauna booth. A communal, all clothes on (!) German Alpine hay chamber….. yes, you read that right. It’s a sauna with a difference. The heat is pushed through herb infused hay before it reaches you, where you are sat in your own little chamber. Again, this is a timed experience and especially targets your shoulders, neck and back. It is a weird sensation, but quite wonderful and a great talking point.
The steam rooms
Post-treatment we went up another floor to find the steam rooms, each with different aromas to try. We loved the eucalyptus as we were both fighting off the tail end of colds and, although strong, it did help clear the airways. There are four steam rooms to choose from each with different colour lights - a cleverly therapeutic theme, throughout the spa. In the centre of these rooms is a ‘waterfall’ shower, again with mesmerising fibre optic colour changing lighting that alters from an ‘invigorating tropical shower’ through to a light mist. I would recommend waiting for the tropical shower to come back around in the sequence, as it will literally take your breath away and you will feel very much awake and alert.
Aromatherapy massage treatment
After a tasty lunch, it was time for my second treatment and onwards to the dreamy pod-like treatment rooms. Again, the welcoming fragrance was heavenly. My therapist was suitably both professional and friendly and talked through the type of treatment I wanted from the aromatherapy oil massage I had chosen. I selected a citrus based oil blend (from a gorgeous selection) to ‘reinvigorate’. My therapist understood that I had some tension and stiffness in my shoulders and worked on this area for me. It was relaxing but tough enough to attack my problem areas. I relaxed to the point where I thought of nothing else: a rare state. I would race back for another.
What we ate
Taking lunch is quite bizarre in your dressing gown. But nonetheless, it’s a smart modern setting over-looking another part of the spa, the circular and intimate Cross Baths that you can hire privately and would make for a fabulous girls day out, we thought. The menu is seasonal and fresh and without doubt, tempting. We both chose a scrummy healthy fruit smoothie to drink followed by an Asian inspired salmon salad with baby shoots and a selection of vegetable sides. My friend follows a diet and was keen to avoid both wheat and dairy, which she managed to do easily. We were both very impressed with our food and the relaxed setting of the restaurant. The food was really filling but light enough to continue with our spa day.
The stunning open–air roof top pool at the spa takes in the urban skyline of Bath. We had evidently left the best to last and wished we had made more time to spend here, as our four hours were fast disappearing. The bubble jets and ‘air seats’ are funny and fabulous and the whole ambience is refreshing and relaxing. The spa offers a Twilight package which I think would be very special, and possibly quite romantic too. We wondered how it would be if it rained or snowed and guessed, if not torrential, that it would probably be quite thrilling!
All too soon, it was time to go. But not before we had tried to work out who might grab our children from school if we could justify staying on - did I mention this is a child free zone? And we really could have stayed on. We felt truly restored. Much, perhaps, like the beautiful Thermae Bath Spa itself.
Next time, I’d love to try the amazing looking Watsu treatment, a therapy in water. Or the Vichy Rainforest Shower which looks incredible too. It is described as projecting a ‘cascade of sounds, light and water’ on to your body which includes more beautiful coloured lights that change and morph…….intriguing.
The water is treated and monitored continually and is circa 33.5 degrees C and a constant depth of 1.35 metres.
There are no beauty treatments only therapies
Robes and slippers are only automatically included with treatments and packages
Over 16’s only
Spa sessions cannot be booked unless for groups of 8 or more. Treatments must be booked in advance.
Gift vouchers can be purchased.
Tel: 01225 33 1234
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