Photography by Matt Cardy
((Extract from Thermae Bath Spa piece from Bath Fashion Girl))
As my accomplice noted, the design of the baths is very consistent throughout the levels of the building. Four pillars, symmetrical and stoic, run through top to bottom. Everything has been considered from door hinges, to digital keys for your lockers, that actually help you with your orientation. A spinny thing for your swimmers and the softest towels and robes. I absolutely could have lived in this little paradise.
After thanking Charlotte for her tour and kindness, we donned the swimmers – my poor, winter body – and waded straight into the baths. Here we each took a noodle float and bobbed around for longer than I thought you could bob around for. It’s like on holiday I find, at the beginning you’re still a little bit hyper, a bit sensitive and thinking about that darn email account. Then after a day or two, the thoughts dissipate, your fingers stop twiddling sans Blackberry and you’re breathing steadily and thinking about cheese courses and Oyster Bay. After I pointlessly took myself round the bath via breaststroke, I realised it was all about the lolling. And actually, the lolling is truly amazing.
So I lolled and lolled and lolled. We chatted, then lolled some more, before lolling on the rooftop. For me, the rooftop bath made me feel like I was having a sort of, Pretty Woman moment, with Richard Gere’s cash – though I am an independent woman of course – but it was like I’d reached some higher levels and hit bingo on the corporate ladder. Ding! It made all my ambitiousness do a little somersault in my ribcage. The steam ran off the edges of the pool and couples grinned at each other, whilst tourists chatted and a couple of business men sat defiantly in one of the bubbling corners. We discussed beauty, men, trees and ethics. Then flipped around a bit and lay back on our noodles. A million things ran through my mind, then they left and walked off, over those hills in the distance. This was not the time, things. I am having ‘Hels Time’, something I am fastidious about having, but never have I experienced with such grandeur.
Lunch was a beautiful affair. Set in a pale green room, with a wall of smart wallpaper and a historic tree in the middle. Guests are in robes, food is locally sourced and all sound is genteel. We had vegetable juices and a selection of nuts, wasabi peas and vegetable crisps. Wasabi peas are one of my favourite creations and together with the juice I could feel was helping my inner self prosper – my heart high fiving the other organs – I was in that calm place. Like the airing cupboard, filled with thick, white towels.
After this I had the delicious Thermae Salad, with chicken and bacon, whilst my friend had chicken breast, with swirling mash. Flavours, textures and quantities were all perfect. Then to follow, we shared two desserts: strawberry tart with pepper and balsamic vinegar, and figs with honey and ginger ice cream. They were as gorgeous as they sound. The tart and ice cream particularly, so delicate, smooth and fulfilling. When food does all that is can do, that.
Before being swallowed up by the baths again, we sat in the steam pods for a while. These were like therapy bubbles, as I felt my body ease, invigorate and wake up to a field of freshness. I allowed myself to get to the point where I couldn’t sit in them anymore – so that the only thing I could think about was mmm smells and breathing, sitting and walking, opening pod doors and sitting and breathing. I LOVE being very warm and my skin felt incredibly soft afterwards.
Photography by Matt Cardy
By now we had been in the spa for around four hours. I have no idea how this happened. Other than I believe the baths may actually be bath shaped rabbit holes. We’re all enjoying a tea party with the Romans, whilst the Mad Hatter with our smart phones is chuckling underground, with a green halo on his head, channelling Caesar.
I went for some further relaxation in the bottom bath, then left my friend to go for one last wade in the top bath. As I went up there, I saw the treatment rooms – next time, I shall take it to an even higher level and experience one of these, I say to myself. I was so content at this point, I decided that this area was like one of those in a Bond film – without the bad guys, or perhaps a space ship. Everything seemed white, clean and free from Earth’s concerns. Perhaps it was the minerals in the water.
I found myself in the top bath for way, way (way) longer than anticipated. I had learnt the art of the bath relaxation and time whittled away, like a pied piper of loveliness. I lolled around for a long, long time before eventually placing my arms either side of me on the side of the pool, closing my eyes and breathing in with a massive smile. There I sat, smiling to myself and not caring that I may have looked slightly mad. I was very ‘ahhhh’. I don’t know if I could have got anymore ‘ahhhh’. I was at my maximum perhaps, and overjoyed to be there. These baths are absolutely medicinal I told myself and as we left the spa, I had a, world is an oyster, positivity explosion moment. Au revoir to the self imposed inbox (sorry), hello to green fields and moving forward in a sprite like fashion. I couldn’t recommend it anymore. Utterly splendid.