Bath Thermal Spa – One of Many Reasons to Visit Bath
Pools of mineral-rich waters, heady clouds of perfumed steam, and deep, bone warming heat – the new Wellness Suite at the Thermae Spa brings ancient techniques to the modern age. Claire Fothergill went to try out the facilities for herself.
The Romans really did have the knack for knowing a good thing when they saw it; upon discovering the mysterious steaming pools in this corner of south west Britannia, they saw the advantages of developing this site not as another military fortress, but as a sanctuary of recuperation and relaxation – and so Aquae Sulis was born, growing over time to include a series of baths, caldarium and a temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva, and giving rise to Bath as we know it today (well, with a little intervention later on from those very prolific Georgians).
Today, the city still attracts visitors from far and wide for a spa experience – but instead to the rather more modern and spectacular Thermae Bath Spa. I visited when this astonishing architectural achievement was first opened, but I was keen to head back when I heard of the impressive development of the Wellness Suite to replace the existing steam chambers – said to offer a truly sensory experience, the suite is included in a normal spa session and offers a natural journey through different temperate relaxation zones.
Designed to offer visitors the full circulation-boosting experience, the suite consists of a series of rooms designed to slowly raise the body’s temperature before cooling quickly – this ancient experience is known to reduce stress, improve the elimination of toxins from the body and to stimulate healing.
For optimal results, it is recommended to use the rooms in temperature order on your first cycle through. The journey begins with the Experience Showers, where the skin is invigorated and refreshed with lemongrass-scented water. Then it is on to the Infrared Sauna, an amazing piece of architectural planning, with its imposing yet elegant central column seeming to grow from the floor. This contemporary sauna warms the body from the core outwards and unlike a traditional sauna the heat doesn’t hit you straight away, but rather slowly builds, giving you all the benefits of a traditional sauna but in greater comfort. Truly, I never usually enjoy saunas, I become fidgety after a few minutes and find the heat cloying – this was the opposite and I wasn’t ready to leave in a hurry.
From the sauna it was on to the first and cooler of the steam rooms, this one themed around the Roman history of the original baths, with a mosaic of the goddess Minerva and gentle decorative nods to the great history of the city. Scented with lavender, this room really helped to clear the airways and aid relaxation. Then it was onto the other steam room, representing Bath’s other significant historical age – the Georgian era. Light and airy, this room contains formal garden views and a gentle flowing fountain, combined with tea-rose and jasmine steam and the gentle melody of birdsong.
Then it was time to brave the cold, completing the circulation-improving cycle, within the peppermint-scented Ice Chamber. Cooling the body down quickly, the chamber contains a large trough filled with ice crystals to exfoliate the skin and close the pores. Many people then work through the cycle again, but having become pleasantly sleepy, I settled down for a blissful dose in the Celestial Relaxation Room and let the heat of the tiled heated lounger warm me to the core.
I managed to rouse myself for a wonderful facial with the expert team and then before leaving, I made sure to head up to the rooftop pool, one of the amazing draws of this unique spot. From here you can soak in the famous thermal waters as you look over this magnificent city – utterly magical. The Romans really did have the right idea…