International bathing beauties
I toyed with the idea of an overflow, fancying myself surfing across the bathroom on a wave of lavender bubbles
With just a shower, and no tub, in our city apartment, and as a lover of long soaks, I have developed an unnatural fascination with hotel bathrooms. The first thing I check in any guestroom is the ensuite. Happy dance when there is a bath and sad face if not. Sometimes there is a tub bang in the bedroom, positioned as some sort of show-off altar to bathing, which is fine when you are travelling alone but not always such an attractive prospect with partner or friend in tow.
It is quite the thing in Asian resorts to have a sunken tub, which is all very well if you don’t have arthritic joints or dicky knees. I always look into such depths with mounting fear. What to do if I get stuck? It has happened once, at the unlikely but delightful locale of the Roseland peninsula in Cornwall. I was researching the Trevithick branch of the paternal family tree and trying to establish if we were related to the great Cornish inventor Richard Trevithick, who developed the high-pressure steam engine. I am still not sure of the exact family connections but that night, perhaps gripped with excitement at the possibility of a famous ancestor, my leg cramped in the tub of my ensuite at the seaside Hotel Tresanton.
I was in a tiny attic room with a dormer window and could hear the seagulls cawing like crazy outside; it was high summer and one of those evenings when the sun decides to go to bed very late. Jolly voices drifted up from the beach; I tried shouting and banging on the bathroom wall as right next door, in an identical little chamber, was my travelling companion, Christine. But she was already safely bathed and nose-deep in a book, oblivious to my squawks and appeals for a crowbar.
I tried rolling and crouching on one knee in an effort to hoist myself out. The bath went cold; the tub was too full to top up with hot water and the pop-up plug was unhelpfully stuck but I toyed with the idea of an overflow, fancying myself surfing across the bathroom on a wave of lavender bubbles. Eventually the cramp went and out I stumbled, as wrinkled and squishy as a prune.
Recent bathing experiences I have loved include the semi-alfresco setup at Villa Kubu in Bali where it is almost a matter of swimming with the fishes as the rockwalled bathroom is incorporated into a pond and from the tub you feel as if you could prune the garden or at least do a headcount of the plump and lazy koi. At The Brando on Tetiaroa atoll in French Polynesia, there’s a choice of bathing indoors or out but the latter is the go in fine weather, tucked into a tub behind a wooden screen and surrounded by broad-leafed tropical trees.
Soaking with a view? From a window-side bath on Level 41 at The Westin Singapore I felt like Jane Jetson installed at Skypad apartments and hovering lightly over this modern-as-tomorrow city. Surely even the seagulls would need oxygen masks up here. I had no problems leaping out of the water and shimmying into a towelling robe but that tremendous floor-to-ceiling panorama did leave me stuck for words.