So much more than just a spa...
Bethan Evans spends a day at Thermae Bath Spa and finds there are plenty of ways to unwind
IT’S one of the most magical cities in the country - steeped in Roman history and filled with culture and beauty, not to mention some of the greatest spots for an afternoon tea, Bath is truly a place like no other to explore. And possibly one of the best places to appreciate its rolling hills, beautiful stone buildings and the incredible gothic Bath Abbey is from the rooftop pool of the New Royal Bath spa. Sure, what’s not to love about an openair pool on a warm and clear autumn day in any place in the West Country? But the New Royal Bath, which is considered the main spa area at the Thermae Bath Spa, is so much more than another centre to get a hot stone massage or put your feet up while your toenails are polished. It sits right in the middle of the city, giving you a chance to head out for a little shopping or stroll along the River Avon before or after your swim. The spa also acts as the perfect hideaway, with floors and floors of tranquillity in a mixture of frosted glass, Bath stone, light and water - each giving you something unique and special. On the second floor you will find the Wellness Suite - which offers a Roman and a Georgian steam room, an infrared room and ice chamber, experience showers - complete with a range of water pressures and rainforest tunes - and the celestial relaxation room with twinkling lights above you. In the spa’s Minerva bath you can bathe in natural thermal waters, and this is just another of the many special features of the tranquil home of the New Royal Bath. The thermal waters contain more than 42 different minerals, and until the complete restoration of the spa in 2006, the natural resource was not used and ended up in the river Avon. Now more than one million litres of this mineral-rich water flows from the springs each day and are fully used in Thermae Bath Spa. And you really can feel the stresses and worries of a long working week ebb away when you dip your toes into the warm waters of the Minerva bath or the rooftop pool - where you can enjoy stunning views of the city - as well as the moment you step into the treatment rooms to enjoy a luxurious massage or facial. There are so many options here it’s rather difficult not to hole up in one of these gorgeous rooms filled with mini chandeliers and the British brand Aromatherapy Associates all day long. I indulged in the tailor-made facial, which is designed to suit everyone’s individual skin needs. The extremely friendly and relaxed therapist talked through any issues with my skin and things I wanted to improve and then set to work cleaning my face, working in lemon-scented oils and creams, leaving my skin so much softer and hydrated. The treatment also comes with a facial massage to help ease tension and tone the muscles, as well as a head, neck, arm and hand massage. The treatment was so incredibly relaxing, and although the treatment is at the higher end of what I would pay for a treatment - £69 - it lasted for 55 minutes and it did not feel like it was all over in a flash. I could definitely feel the benefits. It is also possible to have couples treatments at the spa, enjoy hot stone therapy - or if you are expecting, there is a list of treatments perfect for mums-to-be. If you become a little peckish from all of this relaxing, the Springs Cafe Restaurant is available, offering a really varied menu. A good tip - get a table next to a window, where you can look down on to the cobbled streets and do a little people watching. Something else which you can also see from the restaurant is the Cross Bath. This is an intimate open-air thermal bath, and is a separate building, providing an alternative to the more extensive spa facilities in the New Royal Bath. To give you a little history of the new site - the spot where the Cross Bath now stands, the Celts revered their goddess Sul, in whose honour the Romans named their spa town, Aquae Sulis. The Cross Spring is now recognised as an official sacred site, and it is here you can relax in the oval Cross Bath, watching the natural thermal waters cascade from the spring and a specially commissioned poolside fountain. You can enjoy the Cross Bath for up to an hour and a half and there is also the option to hire out the area exclusively - perhaps an anniversary, hen party or even a proposal. Feel free to drop this page in the lap of your partner at any point.
The New Royal Bath spa is open every day from 9am until 9.30pm, with the last full entry for a two-hour session being at 7pm. The pools and Wellness Suite close at 9pm. The Cross Bath is open from 10am to 8pm and the Springs Restaurant is open from 10am to 9pm.
For a list of spa treatments and prices, and to book, visit www.thermaebathspa. com or call 01225 33 1234.