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Picture courtesy of www.thermaebathspa.com
If you’re taking a holiday in Bath and you’re in need some serious relaxation then you would be wise to seek out this haven of tranquillity. The Thermae Spa at Bath is a very special place indeed, as it is the only spa in the UK with naturally hot spring waters! If you are the brave sort then you can try the other spa towns as their waters are cold, otherwise you’ll be better suited to the more calming environs in Bath. It is these warming mineral waters and the ancient history surrounding the spa that encourages a constant stream of visitors from all over the globe.
A few weeks ago we explained the history behind the spa, today we look a little deeper (pardon the pun, sorry) into the Spa and what makes it so popular and enjoyable.
The natural healing properties of the warming, spring waters were originally discovered by Prince Bladud (say it as you read it!) in around 863BC, who found his leprosy was cured after bathing in the muddy waters bubbling up in the area. Following this revelation and fortunate turn of events Bladud opened up the spa to the public to share in his luck and ever since the location has been popular with the locals and visitors. It is not known where the source of the waters originates from, but some believe it starts from the Mendips Hills. The water is thought to have first fallen as rain around 10,000 years ago, and then sunk to below 2 km underground, where it was heated by the natural warmth of the rocks, before it rose back up, via the hot springs.
The healing properties of the warming spring waters come from the 42 minerals it contains, which include high concentrates of sulphate, calcium & chloride, and the temperature is perfect for bathing too, keeping constant at around 33.5┬░C (92┬░F).
If you are intending to visit Bath in the near future, a stop off at the Thermae Spa is a must. Here’s all you need to know about the facilities at this wonderfully healing place.
The naturally warm spring waters rise into two buildings that make up the Thermae Bath Spa; these are the New Royal Bath and the Cross Bath. Within these two buildings you’ll find surprisingly modern facilities that would make Bladud positively glow with pride and healthiness. Today you will find a rooftop swimming pool, aroma steam pools, a hydrotherapy pools, natural thermal pools, changing rooms and ‘experience showers’. Both buildings have been extensively and sensitively restored to reflect the historic nature of the architecture, but also to update and compliment them using artificial light and overall they look and feel quite stunning.
The New Royal Bath is the main building of the Thermae Spa and has several levels that are accessed via elevators or a grand central staircase. Within the New Royal Bath are the Minerva Pool and the Hot Bath, and it is here that you can book for the spa treatments, which last for sessions of 2-hours, 4-hours or a full day. All the treatments take place within the Minerva Pool or the Hot Bath, and there are wide ranges of treatments available, which capitalise on the naturally occurring healing properties of the mineral waters. There’s also a welcome relaxation room nearby with refreshments on hand, meaning that you don’t have to rush off after your treatment.
One of the most famous of the Thermae Spa’s treatments is the ‘Watsu’, which lasts for 50 minutes, costs £62 and takes place in private in the Hot Bath. The treatment is a kind of a massage crossed with a personal floatation and involves one of the Spa’s qualified therapists. It is quite an intimate experience, so if you think you would feel uncomfortable with a stranger holding you in the quiet, still waters, this probably isn’t the treatment for you, but if you fancy taking a step into the unknown, then you should certainly give it a go. People who have had the Watsu describe it as the closest thing to being in the womb, as the therapist supports you in the warming waters, manipulating your body to allow your energy channels to open and flow correctly.
If this treatment feels a little too intense then check out the steam rooms, situated on the next floor. These are always a popular haunt for visitors and are housed in stunning circular glass rooms, each one coloured in a different light and giving off a particular scent. In the centre of the room is a specially fitted ‘waterfall’ shower, complete with a fibre optic light fixture, which provides different water experiences from light misting of water to an invigorating blast.
Certainly the star attraction of the Thermae Spa is the rooftop pool, where guests can swim whilst relaxing and gazing out towards the city landscape of Bath. There are bubble seats to sit on but the pool is deep enough for you to swim in.
Over the road you’ll find the smaller building of the Cross Bath, where the atmosphere is a little more intimate, and provides a simpler way to enjoy the spa facilities. The Cross Bath marks the spot where the ancient Celts worshipped their goddess Sul, after whom the Romans named the spa town Aquae Sulis. Now designated as an official sacred site, here visitors can watch the warming mineral waters rise as a fountain within a small circular pool, which is set inside a walled enclosure and open to the sky. This smaller pool can be hired out for private parties and is ideal for people who prefer a more calming and personal experience of the Thermae Spa.
There’s definitely something for everyone at the Thermae Spa at bath, whether you prefer the modern facilities of the New Royal Bath, or the quite calm and ancient mystique of the Cross Bath. Either way, you are sure to leave in a more tranquil and relaxed state then before you visited.