Thermae Bath Spa
Bath, Somerset, BA1 1SJ
Has a pool
Has thermal facilities
24 treatment rooms
Bath is the only place in the UK that has natural hot springs. In all other traditional spa towns, the spa waters are cold. Thermae Bath Spa is built around these natural springs to create a true spa, in the original sense of the word. The heritage of the site, and the way that the spa makes the most of the waters is outstanding. No wonder there are sometimes queues around the block; go early or late to make the most of this unique spa, as it can get busy.
The two separate spa buildings house the Cross Bath where the natural spring rises to the surface, and the New Royal Bath, where you can find the modern pools and thermal facilities. Many of the treatments make use of the natural thermal waters, and both the spa days and treatments are pleasingly affordable. Don't miss the dramatic rooftop pool; swim while looking out across the city to the hills.
Thermae Bath Spa, in the centre of historic Bath, is a tourist attraction in its own right. The New Royal Bath is an award-winning blend of modern glass and classical stone in a tall Georgian building. The spa is hugely popular and can take up to 200 guests; we had to queue on a Tuesday morning. The small Cross Bath, just across the street from the main spa, offers a quiet and peaceful place to dip into Bath's thermal waters.
We arrived at Thermae Bath Spa in beautiful sunshine. We checked in at reception and received a robe, towel, slippers, and a wrist-band. The wrist-band allows you to activate the turnstile entrance gate, close your locker, and charge any additional food or drinks. The large and busy changing area is unisex with individual cubicles and lockers lining the walls. The showers are just around the corner; the individual cubicles are more local swimming pool than spa.
Beyond the changing rooms, Thermae Bath Spa is both special and unusual. The ground floor houses the Minerva Pool which is warm and large, and the water feels very silky. There's a lazy river you can drift in, a massage-jet area and Jacuzzi. We saw lots of spa-goers with floats happily bobbing around in the water.
Take a lift or stairs to the second-floor steam hall with four large, round steam chambers, each with a different scented essence. Each of the steam rooms would comfortably take 10 or 12, and they were all beautifully hot and steamy during our visit. In the centre of the hall is a large waterfall shower to cool down between steams.
The second large pool is on the roof top, with stunning views over the city of Bath. The water is very warm; the spa is fed by three thermal springs which bubble up in the city centre, with water so hot it is filtered to reduce it to a soothing 33.5 degrees C. We admired the views and soaked up the happy vibe of people enjoying their spa day. Bliss!
The Hot Bath -- a smaller pool full of the thermal waters -- is used for treatments. There's a chill out relaxation room with loungers, magazines and drinks, a sun-trap terrace and a spa café.
The spa experience is different depending on whether you book treatments or not; the relaxation room is only for those who have treatments. You also only receive a robe, towel and slippers if you book a treatment; if not, you can hire them at reception.
The much quieter Cross Bath can be used by up to 12 people at an additional cost. The thermal waters bubble up and fill the pool which has relaxation space around it. Private hire is available, and they'll serve fizz and nibbles, too, so the Cross Bath makes a great special occasion venue. It's open to the sky, so be ready for rain or sunshine.
We tried Thermae Bath Spa's signature treatment, Inner Strength (85 minutes, £85).
My therapist, Sarah, met me at the reception area on the second floor and guided me through to the treatment room. The room was very fresh with white, curved walls and blinds to dim the light from outside. I perched on the treatment bed and Sarah asked me to smell the Aromatherapy Associates Inner Strength Oil, with rose and patchouli; I love floral scents so it was exactly right for me.
Sarah stepped outside while I took off my robe and laid on the treatment bed. When she came back in, she cupped a little oil beneath my nose, asking me to breathe the scent in deeply. The calming scent of frankincense set an instantly relaxing tone. Sarah cleansed my hands and feet with a hot towel, then massaged them using her thumbs, kneading away tension. She brushed hot paraffin wax onto the centre of my soles and palms, then massaged my back and the backs of my legs. She used long flowing movements with a medium pressure; perfect to relax and unwind.
I turned over and Sarah placed three hot stones on the front of my body and massaged my face, shoulders and neck. She again used flowing movements on my body and pressure points on my face and scalp.
At the end of the treatment, I felt calm, soothed and enjoyed the scent of the oil on my skin.
My spa partner had the Roman Trilogy (85 minutes, £95). The treatment includes a full body scrub and massage, and mini facial. She loved the treatment; it's a great top-to-toe way of treating yourself, or would be great for a new spa-goer who wants to try everything.
Thermae Bath Spa has an extensive menu of treatments for men, women and mums-to-be. Try facials, body treatments and massages from aromatherapy to bamboo to hot stone. You can also try water treatments such as Vichy massage and Watsu, or use the Kraxten Stove: a bit like an alpine herbal sauna.
A two-course lunch at Springs restaurant, on the second floor, is included in most spa days. There are plenty of hot and cold dishes including meat, fish and veggie options. We had the breaded goat's cheese starter followed by the mushroom and garlic rigatoni, which was very tasty. For those with a sweet tooth, there are desserts, pastries and cakes, too.
The rooftop pool: We could have happily floated about for hours. It was beautiful in the summer but would be great in the cold of winter, too.
The food: The menu offers a lot of choice, the service is efficient and you get well-presented, delicious food.
The choice of steam rooms: While most spas have one steam room, Thermae Bath Spa has four large steam chambers with different essences. We loved the sweet floral scent in the jasmine chamber.
We didn't love
The changing rooms: When you have such high numbers visiting the spa, it's difficult to manage changing facilities. At Thermae Bath Spa, the changing rooms are grey, plastic and impersonal. Get changed quickly and head straight to the thermal waters!
We saw so many spa-goers enjoying Thermae Bath Spa; couples, pairs of friends, small groups and one large group. The spa appeals to men, too; we saw several guys checking in for treatments and using the pools.
As so many people use the spa and it can get quite busy, you may not enjoy it so much on your own if you're less confident.
We gave Thermae Bath Spa a Good Spa Guide rating of Four Bubbles. The roof-top pool is an unmissable spa experience. Couple this with a delicious lunch and good treatments, and Thermae Bath Spa makes for a wonderful spa day.
To make the most of your visit, get to Thermae Bath Spa early, go mid-week, and be prepared for the less than luxurious changing rooms. Then relax and enjoy everything this remarkable spa has to offer.
Supreme Spy visited in July 2016 and awarded it 4 Bubbles
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Hot Bath Street, Bath, Somerset, BA1 1SJ
Springs Café offers a ‘grazing menu’ of light bites and a selection of sweet treats.
9am – 9:30pm every day
There are no offers for this spa.