A Relaxing Bath Break at Thermae Bath Spa and the Roseate Villa
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The Romans knew a thing or two about civilisation – straight
roads, underfloor heating, and some monumental buildings that are still upright
20 centuries later. But as I float dreamily
in the therapeutic warm waters of Thermae Bath Spa, I can’t help thinking that
one of their best ideas was communal bathing.
Throughout the Roman Empire, public baths were the
equivalent of today’s High Street coffee shops - a place to while away the time
with friends, conduct business meetings, and generally catch up on the
gossip. All of which seems to be going
on here in Bath.
Much has been written about Thermae Bath Spa which opened to the public in August 2006 after a few well-publicised teething problems. Today, the blend of heritage buildings and new-build, warm spring water and cosy treatment rooms is as much a tourist attraction as the city’s original Roman baths and elegant Georgian architecture.
So would it live up to anticipation?
First impressions were promising. The discreet entrance is tucked behind the
main shopping area, close to the abbey and historic Pump Rooms. Visitors buy a basic two-hour spa session which includes slippers, robe and towel. You then wear a ‘smart’ wristband which
clocks you in and out as well as recording any cafe purchases.
The Hot Bath in the basement is for pre-booked water-based
treatments only so first stop for most visitors is the Minerva Pool on the
ground floor beneath the changing suite.
Before you sink blissfully into the warm water, take a moment to take in
the building, an ingenious mix of cubes, curves and circles. The New Royal Bath which houses the main spa
complex is a free-standing cube resting on four huge pillars, linked to
surrounding heritage buildings by glass walls and bridges, and it’s impressive
Forget any thoughts you may have had about swimming. There is certainly space for a few strokes,
but the here in the Minerva Bath, I can imagine the Romans coffee-housing around
their public pools as I watch 21st century visitors doing the same as the
mineral-rich water washes over them. Come
here alone and you’ll feel a bit like Billy-no-Mates. This is a place to enjoy with friends and
nowhere more so than the open-air rooftop pool where my companion and I enjoy
sharing the view over the rooftops to
the green hills that surround the city.
Scudding clouds threatened intermittent rain and from time
to time a keen breeze ruffled the surface of the water, but with my shoulders
under the water, I am warm as toast, relaxed by the water and exhilarated by
the wind. Bath is the only place in
Britain where the thermal springs are hot, rising to the surface at 45º and
then cooled to a comfortable 34º, so cold just isn’t an option – no Roman
Downstairs from the rooftop pool, the aromas in the four steam
rooms are changed regularly, the day’s perfumes posted up at the entrance and
on the door to each steamy chamber. I’m
personally not keen on lotus flower which makes my nose twitch, but am very comfortable
enveloped in lemongrass & ginger. Eucomenthol does wonders for my hay fever, but my ultimate favourite is
sandalwood which just hits the spot.
On the floor below, we take time out from the therapeutic
waters to relax over a snack in Springs Cafe Restaurant, a bright spacious room
overlooking mellow stone buildings. You
can get everything here from a soft drink and a cake to a bottle of champagne
and a cooked meal, time at the table being added on to your spa session.
Opposite the cafe are the treatment rooms, my last port of
call. I’m booked in for an 85-minute
Inner Strength treatment, which promises to deliver a sense of peace through
inhalation, massage and hot stones. As
my heart rate slows and my breathing grows shallow, I feel in serious danger of
morphing into a dormouse and falling asleep in the Mad Hatter’s teapot.
But I stay sufficiently with it to float back to my
overnight accommodation in a scented haze of well-being. All is right with my world and the feeling
carries on at The Roseate Villa, a boutique B&B just 10 minutes’ walk from
Thermae Bath Spa.
In a city where parking is at a premium, The Roseate Villa’s
private car park and on-street spaces are a huge asset, but there are many more
reasons to book into this gem of a guest house which takes B&B hospitality
to a higher plane. Arriving early
afternoon before our spa session, we were checked in over complimentary coffee
and muffins by smiling staff who are only too willing to help.
The bedrooms are classified as good, better, and best but
all, I’m sure, are wonderful. The Roseate Villa charges hotel prices but
offers far better value than many hotels I’ve stayed in, with beautifully
appointed rooms, a well-stocked welcome tray, quality toiletries and the
fluffiest of fluffy white towels.
Staff are happy to advise on local restaurants, many of
which offer a discount to guests on production of the Bath Card attached to
their room key. The Roseate Villa’s
breakfast next morning set us up until our evening meal – Bucks’ Fizz, compote
of rhubarb from the garden, a choice of 12 cooked options, and all the usual
pastries and cereals, and then some. And
all included in the room price if you book direct.
We found Thermae Bath Spa and The Roseate Villa to be a winning
combination for a relaxing night away and definitely an experience to be
Thermae Bath Spa
The Hetling Pump Room
Hot Bath Street
The Roseate Villa
+44 (0)1225 466329
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