My parents’ house, where I have spent a substantial amount of my life thus far, is just under two hours from Bath, Dorset. In all the times I’ve visited Bath I have never been into the Thermae Spa- I have regarded it with two parts awe, one part disdain. Awe of the general idea of ‘spa days’ and ‘spa treatments’, generally just not things that cross my field of vision or into my lifestyle, a ‘ladies who lunch’ kind of habit; and disdain in the who can afford that sort of thing anyway, kind of way, but also in the oh please, I am not that kind of Spa-going-person kind of way. So I headed for the Spa, invited by mother, with one part curiosity (erm what is a spa supposed to look like) and two parts oh-no-I-left-my-swimming-costume-in-Germany.
We opted for a two hour Spa Session, the one most within our price range, and although it was a popular night and we queued for a while, we eventually made it in. Bonus points: I’ve never known another place where people come to check on you in the queue and bring you bonbons while you wait. Luxury much? The building itself is very atmospheric, we went at night when its smooth white curves arched up into the darkness, mood lighting glows blue, green and vibrant purple from various frosted panels and the inside glows temptingly. After we’ve hired our robes (we bought flip flops etc with us) we wander up into the changing rooms, bustling with people just like the reception, but maybe because everyone there is relaxed it’s unreal, it never feels too busy.
Working from the top floor down we splash straight into the rooftop pool- the main reason we decided to come. I say splash, I mean scamper, it is way beyond chilly (hanging around 1 or 2 degrees), 6pm and dark, with a sharp wind-chill factor. However, after you’ve clenched your muscles and scampered your way to the steps, you encounter blissful bath-like temperatures (no pun intended…I swear). The view must be stunning during the day, but I was rather captured by the night-time effect. The warm water hugging your shoulders while the cool dark splashes your face; I looked up to the stars and slender crescent moon (only slightly dimmed by Bath’s ambient lighting), and then across at the beautifully glowing upper stories and almost faded slate rooftops in the dark; the Abbey Clock Tower looks impressive too, Peter-Pan-like and magical at night, with its face glowing.
On the next floor down, shivering our way down stairs (not a factor during the day or summer I’m sure), we find the steam rooms. The outside room is pleasant and warm, there are four pods inside, each glowing a different colour, centering around a slightly cooler ‘waterfall’ shower. I’ve never been in a steam room, so after less than two minutes I leave abruptly, saying it’s difficult to breathe, and stand under the cooler shower. I try a slightly less extreme steam pod: if you let the wave of heat hit you (and it’s kind of like being hit by a damp duvet), and just breathe normally, not especially deeply, and a little more through your nose, you soon get used to the air saturated with water and scent. My favourite pod was eucalyptus- it was like when you drop oil on your pillow for a cold or blocked nose- I almost drank it in, it was so cleansing. Mum’s favourite was the bergamot pod, and the other two I think were lemon-grass and something and lavender and something; they were all delightful but we like those two the best. I also like the kind of trance everyone is walking round in, too relaxed to raise a voice or speak excitedly, not bothering to walk particularly fast, it’s like living in slowmo.
The Minerva Pool is downstairs (it might be basement you get a bit lost as to where you are once you’re inside) is also really nice. I think one of my favourite things about the pool is the availability of Noodles- what do you call a ‘Noodle’? They are the long, cylindrical, foamy things that you can use as floats in the water, in case ‘Noodle’ is not in your vocabulary. So we noodled around the pool for a nice while, it’s probably the least exciting bit but it’s warm and relaxing, and the ‘massage jet pool’ is not exactly intense, they’re really rather gentle jets but they’re still pleasant.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself- I went from non-spa-girl, to totally chilled out, glamorous feeling spa-girl in just two hours, magic eh?
Family Rating:I loved going with my mum, for this kind of family venture I would say definitely a 4 Star Rating. But I believe there is a minimum age limit (http://www.thermaebathspa.com/news-info/useful-information-terms-conditions/), so it’s not exactly a ‘young family’ or ‘whole family’ kind of trip.
Friends Rating: Would definitely rate this 5 Star for a girly outing. I’m definitely not going to gender exclude though, since while I was there I saw a few groups of 2 to 4 boys of about 17 or 18 hanging out in there together, and a few groups of mid-twenties boys too.
Couples Rating: Definitely felt like it would be a great couple treat. The general atmosphere was right for it, and the couples there seemed to be really enjoying themselves. I think it would definitely depend on what kind of couple you are though, I know couples who would be bored to death in there.
Go It Alone:I would say this is a really nice thing to do with two of you or a few of you. But I’d definitely go alone; especially if I was getting a massage I’d go first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening and properly relax. It’s not the kind of place you’d feel awkward alone.
Have you been? What did you think? Are you a spa-going-gal (or guy) ?
*If you’re still wondering about swimming costume…I squeezed into an old bikini of mine, it just wasn’t the world’s most flattering thing.