As part of our new City Guides section, we’re going further to bring you more of the best wellness experiences you can find in cities around the world when you travel. From hotels to spas to fitness studios and healthy food spots, check out our guides to stay healthy on your next trip.
Just a short train journey outside London and you can reach Bath, one of England’s prettiest towns and a UNESCO World Heritage Site you don’t want to miss.
From 1801 to 1806 this was Jane Austen’s home and a popular spa resort for the well-to-do looking to unwind from the hustle and bustle of London.
The town is every bit as poetic as Austen could write it, with warm honey-colored limestone buildings and enormous, thriving oak trees that I like to imagine owe their grandeur to the healing properties of the natural thermal springs that also feed Thermae Bath Spa.
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Bathe in the same thermal waters as the Romans at Thermae Bath Spa
Thermae Bath Spa is located near the old historic Roman Baths in the town of Bath, which you can visit just next door. The building incorporates some of the old historic spa as well as a newer portion which is designed to be contemporary yet harmonious with the old architecture. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition of old meets new.
The thermal water that feeds the spa contains over 42 different minerals including sulphate, calcium, and chloride. Did you know the word spa comes from the Latin “salus per aquam” which means “health through water”?
The spa has several levels of baths and wellness offerings. Minerva Bath is the largest with massage jets, whirlpool, and lazy river. One level up you’ll find the Wellness Suite which contains an Infrared Room (kind of like a light-based sauna), Celestial Relaxation Room with visualizations of galaxies and mesmerizing audio, an Ice Chamber and two aromatic Steam Rooms that reflect traditional Roman and Georgian aesthetics. On the roof, you’ll find the rooftop pool with spectacular views of Bath’s historic rooftops.
Thermae Bath Spa offers an extensive list of spa treatments. Massages, hot stone therapies, scrubs and wraps, facials, and signature treatments like watsu (a water-based massage).
The setting for a spa treatment here is ideal. You’re surrounded by baths of natural thermal water, ancient buildings, and gorgeous limestone. The immersive atmosphere puts you in the right head space to fully unwind and make the most of your treatment.
I booked myself in for a Tailor-Made Facial to get a customized concoction of skincare products for my travel-weary skin. It’s one of the best facials I’ve had.
My therapist took the time to ask me in detail about my skin and my main concerns. He put together a bespoke treatment that left me feeling bright, healthy, and giddy with relaxation if that’s even possible!
The spa uses Aromatherapy Associates, a London-based company with a comprehensive set of bath, body and skincare products.
My therapist recommended the soothing and hydrating lines which rely heavily on rose oil (one of my favorites) to return moisture to tired skin.
I spent the rest of my spa visit blissfully rotating through the different wellness rooms and pools, ending in the restaurant for a healthy bite to eat before heading out to explore the city.
When you get hungry, head to the spa’s restaurant, Springs Café.
You can order everything from small snacks to full meals. I enjoyed a couple of healthy appetizers. A pear and Bath blue cheese tart with arugula and walnut salad, and roasted beet quinoa with avocado pesto and arugula. The Ginger Spice juice with carrot, apple, orange, and ginger was just the thing to kick my cold.
Sit by the window for plenty of natural light and a view of some of Bath’s prettiest old streets.
The details: when to go, how much does it cost, what do you get
I visited around midday on a weekday in late September, and the spa was fairly busy but not overwhelming. I’d recommend coming during off-peak season and off-peak hours for the most relaxing experience.
Two hours at the New Royal Bath from Monday to Friday is £36 (Sat-Sun is £40). Each additional hour is £10. The Tailor-Made Facial (50 mins) is £69. Various packages and deals are available so check their website for details.
You get a robe, towel and flip flops for your spa session and you can keep the flip-flops as a souvenir. I love this as I’ve mostly stopped buying souvenirs that aren’t useful. The flip-flops won’t just sit on a shelf!
It’s easy to see why so many people over the centuries have flocked to Bath for health reasons. There’s a sense of calm and rejuvenation here that transports you away to another place and time. I can’t wait to return.