A love letter to the hotel bath


A love letter to the hotel bath

Committed bath lover Elizabeth Bennett reflects on what makes a hotel soak so satisfying

Elizabeth Bennett

BY Elizabeth Bennett2 December 2022

Baths can be quite the divider. While loyal lovers wax lyrical about their restorative powers, haters can’t imagine why anyone would want to stew in their own filth. I fall very much in the former category. I love nothing more than filling a tub and submerging myself in the scalding hot water. As I sink in, my body instantly relaxes and after wallowing for a good half an hour (or, let’s face it, much longer) my mind feels a little clearer, sometimes life a little lighter.

When it comes to bathing experiences, the hotel bath is the crème de la crème. Whether it’s an ornate marble bathroom, in-room freestanding tub or even an outdoor bathing experience, that extra time you have to really relax makes languishing submerged that much more enjoyable.

Bath at Awasi Patagonia | Mr & Mrs Smith

Much-loved bathing experiences are etched in my mind; the highlights of many a hotel stay. I think longingly about the jet-leg-curing early morning candlelit soak at Downtown Mexico every time I disembark a plane. On a recent trip to Bless Madrid, I was over the moon to find a classic clawfoot positioned under the window with views of the handsome 19th-century buildings lining the luxurious boulevard below.

What’s particularly lovely about a hotel stay is indulging in the rare act of a daytime bath. I wholeheartedly believe there’s no nicer way to start the day than a leisurely soak before climbing back into bed and tucking into room-service breakfast. See also: the indulgence of hopping in the bath late afternoon before wrapping yourself in a fluffy robe and taking time to get ready for an evening out. Of course, you could really throw caution to the wind and do both – I know I certainly have.

Bath at Six Senses Thimphu | Mr & Mrs Smith

A good drink on the go is also a must. In typical British style, I rarely take a bath without a piping hot tea perched precariously close by but, in a hotel, it seems rude not to enjoy a glass (hell, a bottle) of something fizzy. I rarely watch TV in the bath (I’m clumsy by nature) but a good book, magazine or podcast means you can really while away the hours until you turn totally prune-like.

On choosing hotels to stay in I am hawk-eyed for good bathing opportunities. For panoramic views it’s got to be Aman Tokyo where the minimal slate design truly lets the skyline do the talking, and I’d order a magic carpet in a flash to take me to the Ludlow for a Manhattan moment looking out at the Lower East Side from the tub. Sometimes the interiors themselves are enough to gawp over. Take Marrakech’s El Fenn, a ravishingly designed riad where all rooms come with giant custom-built baths.

Bath tub at Middleton Lodge Estate | Mr & Mrs Smith

Granted, baths might take a backseat during a beach trip where the itinerary is simply moving between different bodies of water. But is there anything more magical than a bath underneath the stars? Como Cocoa Island in the Maldives, GoldenEye in Jamaica and Alila Ubud in Bali all fulfil this assignment rather nicely. Closer to home, the Hop Pickers’ Huts at the Pig at Bridge Place and Middleton Lodge Estate (above) fit the bill, albeit without the tropical weather.

Basically my bath bucket list is growing rapidly. And considering (miniature violins at the ready) the apartment where I currently live in Barcelona is sans tub, it only seems right that I continue to work my way through it.

Ready to upgrade from bath to beach? Explore eight of the world’s best beach clubs