I had a belated Valentine’s Day in Harrogate this weekend and my boyfriend booked us in to the Turkish baths on Monday morning. I had never even heard of the Turkish Baths but I soon realised it is apparently Harrogate’s no.1 tourist spot and I now understand why.
The baths are really authentic and I’m usually a fan of modern but I could really appreciate the architecture and how ahead of it’s time it was. You do enter through a modern foyer but as soon as you turn into the baths area you are taken back in time and instantly hit with the heat. The changing rooms are pretty rickety with curtains across, it was actually really helpful that it was laid back for us because we only had one bag between us and I was dreading how we would cope with ladies and mens changing rooms but it’s just one open plan space.
The staff give you a little tour when you’re ready to make sure you are comfortable with where everything is, they also give you little hints and tips on how best to use your time. There are a number of spaces: loungers to relax (it’s over 20 degrees), the plunge pool, steam room and then the sauna rooms. You can’t reserve a lounger but the staff regularly change the towels so they are fresh and it’s a space to relax, lots of people were reading books. The plunge pool is genuinely a shock to the system. We were informed that the temperature of the pool depends on the outside temperature, luckily it had warmed up a little bit since the snow the other week so the pool was about 12 degrees opposed to the 7 it was a few days before, it really does take your breath away though. The steam room is pumped with a menthol solution which is lovely on your chest, it is quite small and probably only seats about 8 people, but it was comfortable enough and everybody seemed to rotate quite regularly, it was also the most modern part of the experience.
Then the real architectural magnificence comes with the sauna rooms. The sauna is split into three sections which are separated by curtains. The first space is roughly 35 degrees, the middle around 50 degrees and the top space was hitting 68 when we were there. The spaces are surprisingly big and it was pretty crazy how it works! You are advised to only spend 15minutes in this space at any given time, but there’s no clock so you don’t really know how long you are. It was lovely though.
The space is quite small, but at no point did I feel squashed or that there were too many people. Slots are separated through the day and I assume they are strict on overcrowding to prevent any issues. The staff were really, really nice too. I’d definitely go back and I’ve already recommended it to other people!