The Gainsborough Bath Spa review: dipping into Bath’s healing waters
Lifestyle Editor Camilla Cary-Elwes takes a dip in the city’s thermal healing waters as she shares her review of The Gainsborough Bath Spa
‘Water is best’, reads the inscription above the Pump Rooms in Bath, and in this city, it truly reigns supreme. Bath is famous for many things: Georgian architecture, Roman remains, literary legends and wallet-denting shopping, but it’s the thermal waters that have endured as the biggest attraction throughout millennia.
Each day, over a million litres of geothermally warmed water emerges at a temperature of 47°C from the city’s three springs. Estimated to be more than 10,000 years old, the water is rich in 42 minerals, including calcium, chloride and sulphate. It is said to improve skin conditions and soothe sore joints, as well as alleviate stress.
Legend has it this source was first discovered by Prince Bladud in 863 BC, who bathed in the hot, bubbling mud and was cured of his leprosy. The Celts later worshipped their water goddess Sulis at the springs, and in the AD 60s, the Romans recognised the potential of the waters and built the famous Roman Baths, where they washed and gossiped for the next five centuries.
Fast-forward over 1,300 years and Bath was well and truly on the map as the epicentre of Georgian high society. The city became synonymous with elegance and sophistication, attracting the elite from far and wide, who came ‘to take the waters’, as well as to see and be seen at the city’s balls, card tables and concerts.
Retreat to The Gainsborough Bath Spa
Today, Bath’s reputation as a spa destination endures. The Thermae day spa welcomes 260,000 visitors every year, who come to float, steam and swim. But for those seeking a more intimate experience, the centrally located Gainsborough Hotel is much more than just a (very luxurious) place to rest your head. It is an exclusive gateway to the wonders of Bath’s therapeutic waters. The hotel has sole access to thermal water from the Heitling Spring. Guests can immerse themselves in its mineral waters without leaving the comfort of the hotel.
The Thermal Bath Spa Village is strategically located at the heart of the Georgian hotel, seamlessly integrated into an existing central courtyard. All around are the echoes of centuries past. From the mosaic in the Water Ritual waiting space, which is a replica of the 4th-century Roman mosaic lying a metre below it, to the cardamom, cinnamon and chilli-infused hot chocolate in the spa area, based on an authentic Georgian chocolate house recipe (and every bit as delicious as it sounds).
Before entering the bathhouse, head to the aromatherapy bar for a sensory souvenir in the shape of a bespoke salt aroma pouch by master blender Helen Humphry. The bathhouse circuit itself includes the three natural thermal pools of varying temperatures, traditional and infrared saunas, a steam room and an ice alcove.
Indulge in a treatment
But the Gainsborough’s commitment to wellness goes beyond its lavish setting and facilities. The treatments on offer also pay homage to Bath’s healing culture, emphasising the therapeutic properties of its waters.
One standout offering is the use of luxury Hungarian brand Omorovicza, which has bio-fermented the curative powers of Budapest’s thermal waters. Exceptional treatments include the Hungarian mud detox and gold hydralifting mineral facial to lift, firm and lavish skin.
Whether floating in the age-old mineral-rich waters or indulging in a cutting-edge spa treatment, guests at The Gainsborough bask in the timeless allure of Bath, where water really is best.
Rooms from £235, thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk