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February 25, 2024

The Gainsborough Bath Spa: The Healing Power of Water

The Gainsborough's Spa Village Bath taps into the original ancient Roman underground springs.

By Samantha Coles

I’ve always been a fan of large bodies of water. Especially in times of stress, I crave open water and feel calm wash over me (excuse the pun) as soon as I am nearby. There’s a science to that feeling, apparently, as the ‘Blue Mind’ theory relates to a meditative state that people feel when they are near, in, or under water. Living in the UK, there are a plethora of wild and rugged beaches, deep lakes and tumbling waterfalls to visit, but for a more luxurious option, I headed to Bath Spa to visit The Gainsborough Hotel. 

Bath is a pretty city year-round — it’s the only city in the UK to be a designated Unesco World Heritage Site in its entirety. But opt to go in November or December to make the most of the Christmas markets. Dotted throughout the city, you can peruse the stalls — lots of independent businesses and unique gifts — and stop for Christmasy sustenance in the form of mulled wine, hazelnut coffees, mac and cheese and hog roasts.

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Gainsborough Hotel Bath
The Gainsborough Hotel sits in the heart of Bath Spa, within easy reach of the Christmas markets / ©The Gainsborough

Situated in the city’s heart, the hotel is a mere 2,000-ish-ft from the train station and within walking distance to pretty much everything — yet is remarkably tranquil for its central location. Housed in two Grade II Listed buildings with notable Georgian and Victorian exteriors, the hotel is home to a thermal spring-fed spa village with thermal pools, saunas and a steam room.

In the spa village, phones are strictly prohibited — a rule that is actually enforced, unlike at many other spas where a few signs do little to deter selfie-takers in changing rooms. Surrendering my phone, it is locked away in a pouch which I can either keep on my person or leave at the reception. I keep it with me, a terrible little security blanket I suppose. And those hours of phone-less-ness are bliss. Even when my phone is liberated from its little prison, I find myself not wanting to look at it. 

The Spa Village Bath taps into the original ancient Roman underground springs — laden with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, thermal water bathing is renowned for its curative effects on skin conditions, arthritis, and stress relief. The warm water stimulates blood circulation, eases muscle tension, and promotes relaxation. Dating back to ancient civilizations, this therapy has endured as a cherished ritual. 

The mineral-rich water is drawn via the hotel’s 360-ft borehole from the Hetling Spring / ©The Gainsborough

The mineral-rich water is drawn via the hotel’s 360-ft borehole from the Hetling Spring, situated close to The Gainsborough. Rising to the surface at 47 degrees Centigrade (approx. 116 Fahrenheit), the natural thermal water passes through a filtration system and is regulated and sanitized. 

After drifting around the Spa Village’s thermal pools and thermal and infrared saunas, I head to one of 11 treatment rooms (including a couple’s suite with private thermal waters) with my excellent therapist, Hana.

I’m having the Golden Massage which is part of the spa’s partnership with Omorovicza. The Hungarian skincare brand takes inspiration from the tradition of Budapest’s bathing culture, so naturally the collaboration is all about the healing properties of both thermal waters. The new treatments include a Hungarian Mud Detox which uses the mineral-rich Hungarian Moor Mud from Lake Hévíz and provides a detoxifying and cleansing treatment; the Warm Mineral Mud Scrub, a bespoke Mineral Revitalizing Facial, and a Gold Hydrating Mineral Facial. 

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gainsborough spa

The Golden Massage uses Omorovicza’s mineral-infused oil which is enriched with gold particles. While a gold massage might sound a tad gimmicky, gold has been used for centuries in beauty and wellness practices — Romans used gold powder to enhance the effectiveness of balms and Egyptian Queen Cleopatra supposedly slept with a gold mask on her face. The precious metal has anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties, as well as having a cell-stimulating effect that can increase cell metabolism. 

Hana explains that the treatment usually calls for a medium-pressure massage but suggests I have a firmer pressure as apparently, I need it. After she expertly kneads my tight muscles, I feel drained in the best possible way and sleep for a solid 10 hours later that night. 

Upon returning to my suite, a knock at the door comes with a surprise delivery of daintily wrapped cheeses, crackers and chutney from The Fine Cheese Company which I wash down with a glass of champagne. Life is about balance, after all. 

Treatments from £175 (approx. $220), contact +44 122 535 5320, thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk

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