A new suite of themed hot and cold rooms and a fresh menu of treatments provides the perfect excuse to revisit the Thermae Bath Spa, reckons Georgette McCready
How many of us have forgotten the art of play? To be a like a child and lose ourselves in the glorious physical present, forgetting everything but the fun we’re having? Ladies and gentlemen, I can direct you to a place where grown-ups can discard their worries, albeit temporarily, with their clothes and their phones, and rediscover the simple pleasures of playtime.
A visit to the Thermae Bath Spa should really be on every Bathonian’s wishlist. For all its busyness – and it can get very busy at popular times – like the Eiffel Tower or St Mark’s Square in Venice this is one of those memorable to-dos in the city.
And if you have been once, the spa has now provided you with two fresh excuses to return: namely a new Wellbeing suite and a whole set of newly developed treatments. The middle floor of the building has been completely revamped. Out go the old dome steam rooms surrouding a central shower, and in their place is the Wellbeing suite, with five separate chambers and a much more pleasant shower area.
You’ve got three floors to choose from in the spa building and the biggest decision you’ll face is which order to try everything. I admit that my favourite place is up on the rooftop pool, where you wallow in delightfully warm water even on the chilliest of English summer days. It’s fun to point out familiar Bath landmarks, as close as Bath Abbey and then as far away as the trees on Kelston mound. It’s also a good reminder of how the city is surrounded by verdant green hills and woodland.
It’s easy to lose yourself in day dreaming in the rooftop pool, but even easier as you drift along the lazy river section of the pool on the lowest level of the spa building. A gentle current carries you round and, if you grab yourself a float, your emotional age will go back in time to maybe eight or nine. You’ll spot middle aged people with childish grins on their faces as they float past.
The middle floor, where the new Wellbeing suite is, invites you to try the Roman style steam room, presided over by a giant mosaic head of Minerva on the wall, which looms at you out of the steam, or sample a faux Georgian steam room with images of a country garden. An infra red room provides a more gentle heat and there’s an ice chamber, where you can dare each other to cool down your limbs by rubbing ice cubes into your skin.
The celestial relaxation lounge
I found the celestial relaxation room pretty trippy. You lie on mosaic tiled loungers while a big screen takes you on a psychadelic journey through space and the planets, all accompanied by music. The Bath link is that William Herschel, astronomer, discovered the planet Uranus while living in Bath. A tad tenuous perhaps. Still, it made us smile.
Along with the new Wellbeing suite there’s a range of new treatments which have been devised by the therapists who work here, and who know how people respond to different treatments and what they like to benefit from them. There is a menu of five themed treatments to choose from, according to whether you want to be comforted, restored, uplifted or calmed.
I figured a restorative Perfect Pick-Me-Up (priced at £98 for 85 minutes) sounded exactly what I needed. I quickly discovered, without giving the game away, that my therapist didn’t know I was a journalist. She was very attentive, utterly calm and set about gently ensuring that I was able to relax and enjoy the whole experience.
If you’ve never experienced this sort of treatment before it may take you a while to surrender mind and body to the process of relaxation, of ceasing to worry and fidget. A thorough exfoliating scrub, followed by an energising wrap (don’t worry it’s not claustrophic, just soothing) and a head massage all help aid the relaxation process. The spa uses the Aromatherapy Associates British range of products and the rich essential oils of pink grapefruit, rosemary and juniper berry smelled divine and felt nourishing on the skin.
The last inner circle of relaxation nirvana was achieved with a traditional tension releasing pressure massage before I was very gently led to the relaxation lounge. You could go back in the water after this, I was told, as the oils are deep in your skin, but I had planned my session at the spa to end with dinner in the restaurant.
You’re free to wear your street clothes or your robe and slippers in the restaurant, where although the atmosphere is of a healthy, light-filled space, they don’t skimp on portion size or deny you a nice glass of wine. I enjoyed a Thai green chicken curry with rice while John had an enormous bowl of fresh pasta. We drifted off into the evening, replete and happily, healthily tired.
A Twilight Package for two people is £88, Monday to Friday (you’ll need to book as Friday evenings are particularly popular). You’ll get three hours to spend in the spa complex, a robe, towel and flip-flops are included in the price, and the latter you can take home. A main course and a drink each is also included in the package.
To book at the spa visit: thermaebathspa.com, tel: 01225 331234.