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I open the glass doors and pass into a steam-filled. Lavender fills my lungs as harp music plays in the background of the blue and yellow room. My body immediately started to relax as peace flowed through my mind. This is the Roman steam room, the first of five saunas in Thermae Bath Spa’s new Wellness Suite.
I originally visited the spa last year in November with Louise, my off-and-on traveling buddy. We got to Bath late, which perhaps was even better as we were able to experience the rooftop pool in a gorgeous sunset. We were also able to see the Bath Christmas Market and made an excursion to Stonehenge.
The New Wellness Suite
Roman steam room
This time, I visited with my dad, and we concentrated on the new Wellness Suite. As mentioned, we started in the Roman steam room. The room has been decorated in a Roman motif (obviously), with lion heads on the walls and a mosaic of Sulis Minerva, the patron deity of the Roman Bath Spa, on the back wall.
Georgian steam room
The next room we entered was the Georgian steam room. Also heated at 45°C, similar to the Roman steam room, wide marble seats allow you to breathe in the tea rose and jasmine scents while Mozart plays quietly in the background, soothing your nerves. The room is decorated in the style of the King Georges from the 18th century, complete with a fountain in the back of the room and windows looking out into a simulated Georgian garden.
I had a lot of fun in the next new room. It was my first time in an infrared sauna, where panels on the wall warmed my body up to 55°C. The room doesn’t feel as hot as the steam rooms, and it’s much easier to breathe, but I was pouring off sweat in no time. Essentially, the infrared waves heat your body from the inside out, in contrast to traditional saunas. There is a sandalwood scent in the air, while lime and acacia woods line the walls. The benches are made from Obeche wood, and there is a central wooden column decorating the room.
Next was something really unique, at least in my experience – an ice chamber! The room had an ambient temperature and invigorating peppermint smell. There was a large basin full of crushed ice which I could rub on my arms and legs to exfoliate my skin. I spent several minutes massaging my knee with the ice, reminiscent of the ice massages I used to get as part of my physical therapy when I broke my knee several years ago. It might not be the most popular room, and my dad walked right out, but I found it rather enjoyable. It also reminds me of the time I had a sauna on a tiny island off the coast of Sweden, from which I was able to jump into the freezing Baltic sea a few feet away.
Celestial relaxation room
The final sauna was the celestial relaxation room. Well, perhaps it’s not really a sauna, since the temperature is also ambient, but the tiled beds warmed me up to relax my muscles. There is a sea breeze fragrance, and the walls have tiny lights to replicate a star field. A large screen on the front wall plays clips of Earth as seen from the space station, and meditation music plays in the background. The significance of this room is that William Herschel actually discovered the planet Uranus from his home in Bath, something I never knew before visiting this room.
Experience and chromotherapy showers
The final features of the Wellness Suite are the two shower rooms. The first has oxygenated water with a lemongrass scent. Two types of showers are available, one with an overhead shower and the other with water jets coming out of the wall. The room is decorated with Romanesque columns and mellow, pink lighting. The second shower is called a chromotherapy experience, where mood-enhancing LED lights in the shower heads give the bather a “shower of color.” Both hot and cold showers are available.
The Wellness Suite opened up earlier this year, replacing the existing four saunas at the Thermae Bath Spa in Bath, England. The suite perfectly complements the rest of the services offered by the spa. These include two large pools, the Minerva bath on the ground floor and the Royal bath on the rooftop, as well as a full range of aquatic massages. The following are the massages and treatments available: watsu, Vichy shower, body wraps, aromatic and bamboo massages, hot stones spa therapy, and body care and facials. Check out their website to get descriptions on each of these treatments.
I also have to mention the cafe at the Thermae Bath Spa. My dad and I stopped in there for a drink halfway through our visit. My dad had the freshly-made ginger spice juice, while I got the chilli hot chocolate. I certainly wasn’t expecting what I received – a cup of hot milk and a small pitcher of melted chocolate flavored with chilli powder and cinnamon, just the way they serve it in Belgium. It was absolutely delicious!
Behind the Scenes
The Thermae Bath Spa originally opened in 2006, utilizing the thermal springs beneath the city. Bath has the only thermal springs in the UK, and the waters have been used since the time of the Romans for their purportedly curative properties. While the Spa doesn’t make any health claims, the 42 minerals in the spring waters quite possibly give credence to the numerous cures over the past two millennia.
Next to the spa are the original Roman Baths, one of the primary attractions of the city of Bath and available to tour daily. Other attractions of Bath include the Bath Abbey, the Jane Austen museum and the Pulteney Bridge. There are walking, bike, bus and boat tours of the town daily, which you can either book ahead for or get on when you arrive.
Visiting the Thermae Bath Spa
Perhaps the best part about visiting the Thermae Bath Spa is its accessibility. It’s the only spa in the UK fed by natural thermal springs, and it’s only a 90-minute train ride from London or 20 minutes from Bristol. Buses are also available from all nearby cities, while the closest airport is in Bristol.
The spa is open from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., with some of the activities (such as the café and massage treatments) having slightly shorter opening hours. Packages start at just £18 ($24). Perhaps the best package is the Twilight Package for two, giving two people three hours in the spa plus a dish and drink in the café. The Twilight Package is available Mon-Fri after 4 p.m.
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