Thermae Bath Spa
There are so many spas to choose from these days, with so many gimmicks, it’s exciting to read about one which offers a truly unique experience. Thermae Bath Spa is one such place, notable for its rich history, amazing setting (its historical buildings date back to Roman, medieval, Georgian and Victorian times), as well as its healing properties. The mineral-rich thermal waters in Bath have been used for centuries to treat muscular, rheumatic, skin and respiratory ailments. One of its baths is even an officially recognized sacred site, dedicated to the Celtic goddess Sul or Roman goddess of healing Sulis Minerva (in whose honour the Romans named Bath ‘Aquae Sulis’).
Thermae Bath Spa is the only venue in the UK to offer thermal water as part of its therapy, and it’s incredible to hear what this water has been through. Believed to have fallen as rain around 10,000 years ago, it sank 2km below the earth’s surface where it was heated by hot rocks before emerging through a break in the limestone. Over one million liters of water now flow from the thermal springs each day, heated to around 45°C.
The waters rise today into a spa which is an imaginative combination of ancient and modern. The historical buildings were recently given a radical 21st-century makeover (a move backed by the local council, suggesting that there’s more to it than rampant commercialism), so visitors can choose from a huge variety of complementary therapies and treatments, walk through an indulgent sequence of steam rooms, and then soak themselves in a spectacular rooftop thermal pool.
Photographs: Matt Cardy