Judy Atha

I slipped into the bath and tried to overcome my awkwardness by taking in the amazing view of Bath, the surrounding hills and listening to the conversations of my fellow bathers.

There are definitely other spa towns in Britain but only Bath can say their waters are fully heated. The natural thermal waters have been in the region since the dawn of time and were first discovered by Prince Bladud in 853BC.

Bladud had been banished from his tribe because of a rare skin disease and stumbled upon the waters which are said to have cured him hence he was then welcomed back into his family. Since then, Celts, Romans, Saxons, Georgians and good ole me have gone on to experience the warm and soothing waters rising through the 3 hot springs across the city of Bath.

When I realised that the city of Bath actually had a thermal bath open to the general public, I was super surprised and excited. The Thermae Bath Spa opened its doors in 2006 and has blended the old with the new to create an experience enjoyed by thousands of people over hundreds of centuries. I hurried back to my hotel to collect my bathers and made some time to ‘test the water’ as who knew if I would ever return.

There was a small queue but to be honest I didn’t have to wait long and it gave me time to read the menu and treatments on offer. Once I had paid my fee of £38 which granted me access for 2 hours, a waterproof locker key known as a SmartBand, flip flops which are yours to keep as a souvenir, towel and a bathrobe, I made my way to the unisex change rooms and got ready. The area was surprisingly large and spacious with plenty of cubicles so I quickly changed and popped my belongings into the locker.

The thermal springs contain 42 minerals, all with healing properties to make for a healthy being. By law the Thermae Bath Spa do have to add a little chlorine for human protection against bodily germs, which when you think about it sounds gross!

There are several pools to choose from so I headed straight to the open-air rooftop and was greeted by a pool full of about 30 strangers. It was then I realised I would be basically sharing a large bath with lots of people I didn’t know from Adam or Prince Bladud!! Most were couples and although there are signs saying “no intimacy” people were getting a bit too close for my liking and I started to wonder what other minerals were being added to the water!

I slipped into the bath and tried to overcome my awkwardness by taking in the amazing view of Bath, the surrounding hills and listening to the conversations of my fellow bathers. Everyone was raving about their experience and talking about coming back in the spring, it seems only I had a problem sharing!!

After about 20 minutes on the rooftop I decide to venture down a level to the Minerva Bath named after the Roman Goddess of Health & Wisdom. The mood lighting, flowing curves and large columns provide a lazy river feel with a whirlpool and jets.

Still not feeling the relaxation I was expecting I was glad I had decided to book in at the Spa (additional cost) and receive a treatment. They only had a 30 minute spot so a quick ‘De Stress’ massage was called for, this basically included shoulders, neck and head. I was dripping wet and felt terrible for leaving puddles of water in the reception area but the receptionist didn’t seem to mind. Obviously it was a common occurrence, as after all we were surround by water!

I filled out the appropriate paperwork and questionnaire, which took into account your current mood. I was then led to my treatment room by my therapist and asked to undress and pop on the bed while she left the room to give some privacy.

Once she returned she was straight into it and for the next 30 minutes I enjoyed total bliss. Unfortunately, it came to an end way too quickly and I was then escorted to the relaxation room to enjoy lemon and ginger tea and catch up on the celebrity gossip. I was told I could stay as long as I needed so I spent another 30 minutes enjoying the peace and drinking my tea. Most enjoyable!

If I’m honest it’s not something I would do again and I do think it is overpriced. I’m glad I did it and the hot water (34oC) certainly aided in releasing tension from my stiff and aching body. I’ve never thought of myself as a prude, in fact, those that know me would say far from it, but you just don’t know what’s going on under the water.

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Would you feel comfortable in a communal spa?

Written by Judy Atha, KARRYON contributor