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 is tucked away in a cobbled courtyard behind Bath’s high street. The main New Royal Bath is a columned neo-classical Georgian building with a contemporary glass-fronted entrance and -- rising from historic houses next door -- a glass cube housing the new Wellness suite and rooftop pool. A beautiful, clever piece of design, it elegantly blends ancient and modern while still retaining the feel of a public bath (rather than a swanky spa).
What's on offer?
At reception, you will be given a robe, towel, flip-flops and an electronic wrist-band which you can to access the lockers and order extra food/drink at the cafe. Shuffle through the turnstile and head upstairs to the unisex changing rooms. Lockers and shower cubicles have smart bottle green glass doors; the changing cubicles open either side via a switch. Oddly, showers are downstairs, which is a bit of a faff; each contained unbranded shampoo/conditioner and shower gel. Toilets can be found on most of the building’s four floors.
There’s a spin-dryer for wet swimsuits and plastic bags to transport them home in, while a small vanity bar with mirrors and two hairdyers can be found on the way out.
Most visitors (us included) head straight up to the rooftop pool; leave your robe on a wire shelf and join the happy throng in the warm, steamy waters fed by the city’s three springs. Gaze over the golden rooftops and spires of Bath while floating away. Timed jets around the pool’s edge allow spa guests to gently bubble away.
Built in 2017, the Wellness Suite can be found on the second floor. Begin with a walk-through Experience Shower with its body jets and overhead rain shower, then work your way through the four, glass-fronted thermal rooms, each with coloured lighting, and large enough to seat 15-20 people.
The Roman Steam Room was thick with fragrant, hot steam on our visit -- we could barely make out the hand-crafted stone seats, never mind the Celtic fresco and columns around the edges. The Georgian Steam Room was equally hot and steamy. We loved the Infra-Red Sauna with its heat panels to warm your spine. Cool down afterwards in the blue, mistyIce Chamber with its metal-panelled walls and a huge tub full of ice. After rinsing off in one of three showers, chill out in the dark, atmospheric Celestial Relaxation Room: lie back on heated tepidarium beds and gaze at the twinkling ceiling.
The New Royal Bath’s second pool is the large, curvaceous thermal Minerva Bath on the ground floor. Glass walls let natural light flood in, while four space-age white columns support the ceiling. Step into the warm waters and enjoy massage jet stations, a central whirlpool and a meandering river. There are loungers around the edge for taking respite from the water.
On this level, you can also find the small Hot Bath which has light spilling through a glass ceiling. This serene pool is used for Watsu treatments.
Quiet relaxation spaces can be found in each of the three treatment areas; help yourself to water, tea, magazines and blankets, and relax on a lounger. There is also an outdoor terrace near the Wellness Suite with rattan armchairs and sofas.
Want more of an exclusive experience? Book a private slot at the Cross Bath opposite, a romantic 18th Century open-air bathing pool fed by its own spring.
Tell us about the treatments
We had a Georgian Rose Trilogy (85 mins, £98), one of five treatments devised with Aromatherapy Associates.
Mandeep, my therapist, came to fetch me from the waiting area and led me to a bright treatment in the Georgian building -- a beautiful space with high ceilings, original cornices and an ornate chandelier.
I disrobed and lay face down on the treatment bed. Mandeep began with a gentle, enlivening body brush on either side of my body. She then poured cooling rosewater on my skin and massaged in a fragrant rose scrub. When I turned over, she repeated this experience on the front of my legs, stomach and décolletage. I then stepped into a shower and rinsed off. Immediately, my skin felt as soft and smooth as a rose petal itself.
Back on the bed, Mandeep massaged in a refreshing gel, before applying a warm blend of oil and cream using a paint brush. Covered top-to-toe in this divine smelling ointment, Mandeep cocooned me in warm towels.
While the gel did its job, my face was cleansed, exfoliated and covered in a cool, tingly enzyme mask that smelt deliciously fruity. A slick of serum, a dot of eye cream and good amount of moisturiser later and I was ready to be unwrapped. A gentle bell chime signalled the end of my delicious treatment; Mandeep leading me to the relaxation area to sip a lemon and ginger tea.
My skin felt delicately soft and hydrated; my complexion that of an English rose.
Thermae Bath Spa also offers Roman and Georgian rituals with Aromatherapy Associates, a wide range of massages including aromatherapy and reflexology, hot stones, bamboo treatments, scrubs, facials, a Vichy shower experience, Watsu and a Kraxton Stove hay chamber. There are also treatments for couples, men and mums-to-be on the treatment menu.
We had lunch in Springs, a smart cafe with white walls, blue/gold pendant lamps and Georgian sash windows overlooking the streets of Bath. The menu has starters, sandwiches, hot dishes and desserts, and caters for vegetarians and people with dietary needs without overwhelming with choice. Ingredients are fresh and locally sourced.
Our starter of goat’s cheese salad and main of roast salmon were both delicious, fresh and attractively presented, while the sorbet afterwards was zingy and flavoursome, with chunks of real fruit. We didn’t feel out of place lunching in our robes.
We loved / we didn't love
The rooftop pool: It offers the best view of Bath and the surrounding hills, while the water is packed with mineral-rich goodies.
The Wellness Suite: The steam rooms were particularly, er, steamy, and we enjoyed easing out any tension in the infra-red sauna.
We didn’t love
The queues: The Celestial Relaxation Room was very popular on our visit.
The broken Minerva pool: A burst water pipe meant this was closed for the day.
Who do you think would like it?
City-breakers and couples will love the birds-eye view of the city from the rooftop pool, while groups of friends will enjoy Thermae Bath Spa’s sociable atmosphere.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We awarded Thermae Bath Spa a Good Spa Guide Rating of Four Bubbles; we love the contemporary, historical design and the impressive facilities. The rooftop pool is particularly special.