It was a cold and windy day in March when we visited Bath, England. We spent the morning on a walking tour and by 1pm, we were chilled to the bone. The few minutes we spent inside were welcomed, so we could warm up our numb hands. We knew that we just had to make it until our appointment time of 2pm, when we could climb into the thermal pool at Thermae Bath Spa and spend an indulgent two hours soaking and steaming until we were waterlogged.
At exactly 2pm, we entered The New Royal Bath, the multi-storied building we’d been eyeing all day. It is located right in the center of town, within sight of The Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. You can see the steam rising from the pool that sits atop the building. You sign up for a 2-hour, 4-hour or daily session (no advanced booking is available), that includes a towel, robe and slippers, plus access to the open-air rooftop pool, the aroma steam rooms, the minerva bath and the cafe.
The line moved quickly and we were able to get our wrist bands within a few minutes. Then we were off to the changing rooms. We were told there is sometimes a wait to get in, especially during the busy summer months, so it’s probably best not to go in the middle of the day on a weekend.
Thermae Bath Spa uses the very same spring water that supplies The Roman Baths. There are three springs from which the water rises from deep within the earth, full of minerals and naturally heated. In all four baths inside, the water is kept at a very agreeable 92° F. It’s not too hot to enjoy for longer periods of time. We wanted to spend most of our time in the pools, so we were glad it was cooler than a typical hot tub, or we wouldn’t have been able to spend so much time there.
The first pool we tried was the minerva bath. It is the largest of the thermal baths and is located on the lower floor. There’s a massage jet that pours down onto your shoulders, a lazy river whirlpool that you can float around and a lot of open space to just hang out and enjoy the relaxation.
Before we ventured up to the rooftop pool, which I was very excited about, we stopped off at the aroma steam rooms. Each room is infused with an essential oil like lemongrass or sandalwood. In the center of the room is a large waterfall shower you can stand in to rinse off, and you’ll need it after spending even one minute in the steam rooms. We tried all of them, to see what the different scents are like. You definitely have to find the one you like most. Some of them were too overpowering for me. I liked the lemongrass the best. It was fun to sit in there and sweat for about 5 minutes, but any longer than that would have been too much for me.
Up on the rooftop, we had to stash our towels in a hurry and get into the water because the wind was blowing and it was cold out there. It felt a little like soaking in a huge hot tub on a blistery day. It was just what we needed to warm up. The pool fills the entire upper deck and has one of the most incredible views of the city. You’d definitely want to go up there at night if you had the chance.
There is one other pool that we weren’t able to get in. It’s called The Cross Bath. It’s an 18th-century open-air bathing pool that is open to small groups, who can reserve the space with a per-person fee. It looked like a fantastic place to have a birthday or bachelorette party. It’s located in a stand-alone building outside the Thermae Bath Spa and is fed by its own spring.
In addition to bathing, which is all we did with our time, you can sign up for spa treatments and packages. They have Watsu, a Vichy shower, body wraps, massages, hot stone therapy, facials and other body treatments. If you participate in one of the spa treatments, the time is tacked on to your normal spa session, so you still have plenty of time for soaking.
When our two hours were up, we made our way back to the great changing room, unlocked our stuff from the electronic locker and got dressed. I was very happy to see that they provide hair dryers for you, so you don’t have to walk around with wet hair the rest of the day. They also have a swimming suit wringer to dry your suit. And the time it takes you to get dressed is also not included in your 2 hour session.
If you’d like to go to Thermae Bath Spa, you can check out their hours and learn more about it on their website.
(As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own honest reflection on our travel experiences).
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.