Can you imagine swimming in rain water that fell 10,000 years ago? The mind boggles. Yet, that is precisely what you are doing when you visit the Thermae Spa Bath in the UK. I am a big fan of spas and my children have visited thermal spas in Iceland, Japan and Austria, so a visit to the Thermae Spa Bath is right up our alley! The Thermae Bath Spa UK is located in the city of Bath in England. Bath is a beautiful UNESCO world heritage listed location marked by beautiful architecture and renowned through history for the thermal baths that gave the city its name. Located in the historic center of Bath right near its other main attractions, taking a dip in the thermal baths like the Romans did is partaking in a bit of history. Unlike the Georgians though, we don’t recommend you drink the water!
Why a Spa Day in Bath?
Some 5 cool reasons to spend a spa day in Bath at the Thermae Spa:
- Bath is one of the great European spa cities like Baden Baden in Germany and Montecatini Terme in Italy.
- You will be participating in something that has happened at this site since before even the Romans came to Britain! It really is at the same water as the historic Bath Roman baths spa nearby.
- Bath got its UNESCO world heritage listing thanks to its famous bath waters and the Georgian buildings created to enjoy them.
- You get to have a nice relaxing time AND partake in history at the Thermae Bath Spa UK. How many places can you do that??
- Your body will feel rejuvenated and muscles that you didn’t even know were aching will feel better.
Where’s The Water Come From?
Geothermal activity created three springs that came to the surface in Bath. The springs bring forth rain water that fell thousands of years ago and then sank to a couple of kilometres below the Earth’s surface. No one actually knows the exact location of the source of the springs.
A Very Brief History of Bath Spa
The Thermae Bath spa is a tradition that goes back over 2000 years. It’s a city that grew in fits and starts with the periods of history jumping jerkily over hundreds of years as if the intervening years were the blink of an eye. Coming from a country like the USA which is only a few hundred years old, it’s amazing to think about this time line.
The Legend of the Leper Prince
First lets start with the founding legend of the city of Bath.
There was Prince Biadud, the son of the King of the Britons sometime in the 9th century BC. He came down with leprosy and got cast out of the kingdom. So he works as a swineherd until he has a Eureka moment. He sees his pigs get cured of scabies when they roll around the mud of the hot springs in Bath. He decides to wallow in mud himself and gets cured.
Returning leprosy-free to his father, he eventually becomes the 9th King of the Britons and goes on to father Kin g Lear (he of Shakespeare fame). Prince Bladud ’s so happy he creates the city of Bath.
We saw a statue of Prince Biadud at Cross Bath Spa who was fittingly watching over the bathers.
Enter the Romans
Fast foward to the Romans who did love their hot baths. In 70 AD, the Romans created the baths and a temple to Minerva at Bath. The Romans leave Britain in 410 AD and the Saxons take over.
There’s a few hundred years of decline in Bath’s fortunes until Edgar is crowned as King of England in 973AD at Bath Cathedral. Sadly that did not mean Bath’s fortunes rose again anytime soon though.
Quacks, Royals and Socialites
In the mid-16th century a Dr. Turner wrote about the medicinal benefits of bathing in Bath. Intrigued, Queen Elizabeth I visited in 1574, and was pleased enough to make Bath an official city. Assorted royals and their courtiers visited the city over the next 100 years, including the openly Catholic Mary of Modena.
Mary (married to the equally Catholic James II) couldn’t have a child but became miraculously pregnant after visiting the baths at Bath. Unfortunately, that child sparked the Glorious Revolution because the English did not want another Catholic king. The royal family got sent off to France and the English put James II’s more acceptable Protestant daughter Mary (and her husband William) on the throne.
Back in Bath, the Royal Family still favoured the city. Along with the royals came the aristocracy for spa breaks in Bath. The 18th and early 19th centuries saw the heyday of Bath and its baths. Jane Austen and her family came to Bath and catapulted the city into literary history.
There is evidence that Jane Austen’s father and brothers bathed in the same Cross Spa where we bathed! How cool is that??
Decline and Fall
Bath fell out of favour in the late 19th century when the British discovered their love of the great seaside resorts like Brighton and the Isle of Wight. Although the baths at Bath had lost their luster, too, they were used as a rehabilitation centre by the UK military and the NHS.
In 1978, the spa was closed because it was in such bad shape.
The Phoenix Rises
After a multi-million dollar renovation, the Thermae Bath Spa UK was opened in its present form in 2006.
The Thermae Bath Spa Bath
The facade of the building may be Grade 1 listed but everything inside is state of the art and modern. The building is a masterclass in how old and new architecture can work together. It is constructed to be 6 stories in the back although you wouldn’t know it from the front facade which is a 4 story town house and shop premises.
The Pools at the Thermae Spa
There is an indoor Minerva Bath which is the largest the pools. It’s got massage jets, whirlpool and even a lazy river! Available for your use at both pools are blue swim noodles so you really don’t even need to make an effort to even float. That’s my kind of lazy.
The open-air rooftop pool offers divine views over Bath city and you can even get a peek at the Cross Bath nearby.
The thermal water contains over 40 different types of minerals. The four baths at the Thermae maintain a water temperature of 33.5 degrees Centigrade (92 degrees Fahrenheit). Nice and toasty even for the rooftop pool!
Treatment Facilities at the Thermae Spa Bath
There are 26 treatment rooms offering ever over 40 different types of therapies.
For example, you can have a Vichy shower where you lay on a table and shower jets are sprayed over you to enhance circulation and treatment benefits. I had a Vichy shower at Terranea Spa in Los Angeles and it feels wonderful! It is a specialist treatment and not many places have the facilities for a Vichy shower.
Other specialist treatments include Watsu Massage (a form of water massage) and Hot Stones Spa Therapy (where warm volcanic stones are used at pressure points to encourage relaxationf).
There are also the usual massages. body wraps and facials.
At its busiest, such for example the weekends, the Thermae Spa Bath gets over 1000 a people a day. On average though, you get about 700 people a day. During the quieter weekdays, you get about 400-500 people.
Check out the great reviews for Thermae Bath spa on Tripadvisor!
On site at the Thermae Spa Bath, there is a Visitor’s center, a restaurant as well as two boutiques. Everything you could want for a relaxing few hours in this historic city.
Cross Baths in Bath
The Cross Baths Bath is also located in a Grade I listed building. Across the street from the Thermae Spa, the Cross Bath Spa can hold a maximum of 10 people. It can be rented for private parties, proposals etc.
The Cross Baths Spa has its own changing rooms and bathroom facilities. You can even arrange for the Thermae Spa to send over a basket of food and drinks if you wish to eat while you are at the spa.
The Cross Spring actually bubbles into the Cross Bath Spa through a stainless steel fountain sculpture by William Bye inscribed with words by former poet laureate, Ted Hughes. The spring water bubbles to the surface and then cleverly gets siphoned off and is gently treated before it enters the Cross Bath spa.
We can attest that it is entirely relaxing floating on a noodle or two as you listen to the seagulls fly overhead, surrounded by the mellow cream stonework of the city.
My daughter and I were at the Cross Bath Spa with another 3 families. Three of the 10 people would have fit the 12-16 age bracket. I was surprised though to learn that everyone there was from different parts of England. Most were visiting Bath but one mother/daughter duo were specifically on a spa break in Bath.
Where were the international tourists visiting for a spa day in Bath?! What a hidden gem in Bath that they are missing!
Hotels Near Thermae Spa
The Thermae is run by the same people who run the The Gainsborough Bath Spa – Bath” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>Gainsborough Bath Spa, a 5 star spa hotel opened in 2015. A member of the Leading Hotels of the World, the Gainsborough Bath Spa has excellent reviews on TripAdvisor. It is a great choice for a Thermae Bath Spa hotel if you want the whole spa package appearance.
We chose to stay at the four star Francis Hotel also conveniently located in the historic center of Bath. It is a charming hotel and very convenienly located. On previous trips to Bath, we have stayed at the No.15 Great Pulteney – Bath” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”>No 15 Great Pulteney, a 4 star boutique hotel which is in walking distance from the Thermae Bath but over the river that runs through the city.
Visiting the Thermae Bath Spa
You don’t need to make reservations to visit the Thermae Bath Spa but you do need to make reservations for specific treatments.
The Thermae Spa is located right in the historic centre of historic Bath near the Bath Cathedral, the Roman Baths and the Pump Room.
The address is on Hot Bath Street. Yes, really.
Thermae Bath spa is open every day of the year except 3 days at the end of the year (Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day). The Thermae Bath is open from 9 in the morning to 9:30 at night and the Cross Bath is open from 10 in the morning to 8 pm.
Booking and Entry
You get entry into the Thermae Spa in two hour slots and the Cross Bath in 1.5 hour slots.
Beauty treatments are only available at Thermae Spa. If you book a spa treatment that time is added to your two hour slot. You can also pay at entry for additional hours if you want to stay longer.
You get complimentary towels, robes and flip-flops upon entry at both the Thermae Spa and the Cross Bath. Note there are only adult sizes for flip flops.
You can not get multiple access entries that cover both the Thermae Spa and the Cross Bath.
Thermae Bath Spa Offers
Check the Thermae Spa website for special Therme Bath Spa deals for visitors. Some examples:
- One Thermae Bath spa deal offer is for Sunday afternoon which includes spa access and a meal at the restaurant
- Another Thermae Bath spa discount offer is the twilight package where you can use the spa during weekdays in the evening. Imagine watching the sunset over Bath from the rooftop pool!
- You can get also get a Thermae Bath spa discount package that includes the historic Roman Baths, a meal at the Pump Room Restaurant and a session at the Thermae Bath spa. And the best part? It doesn’t all have to be done in one day!
All of these Thermae spa deal offers would be great for tourists to the city who need some R&R after spending time enjoy Bath’s many attractions and walking its nearby hills.
The spas are accessible for people with disabilities. The Thermae Bath Spa has an elevator for ease of access. In addition, the pools have special assistance chairs for lowering people into the baths.
Visiting with Older Children
Children over the age of 16 are allowed access to the Thermae Spa but need to be 18 to receive spa treatments. Children from the age of 12 are allowed at the Cross Bath spa on a 1:1 adult/child ratio.
We were guests of the Cross Bath Spa. All thoughts and opinions in this article remain strictly my own.
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