Harrogate and its Turkish Baths

For my friend’s birthday treat, I arranged a day out to Harrogate, North Yorkshire and a visit to its Turkish Baths.  The town is located 10 miles from Leeds/Bradford Airport and is easily accessible by train or car from York, Leeds or Skipton.  Harrogate features elegant architecture, large Georgian hotels and beautiful parks.  It is surrounded by open parkland known as ‘The Stray’ which is covered by an act of Parliament preserving this beautiful space for generations to come.

The Sunday Times newspaper has just voted Harrogate the best place to live in the north and north east of England and reports

Harrogate is cosmopolitan and classy, but with old fashioned Yorkshire charm

The first Harrogate mineral well was discovered in 1571 when its waters were found to have health properties.  The town became known as the ‘English Spa’ and grew rapidly.  In 1897, the Royal Baths opened and offered spa treatments and hydrotherapy, today only the Turkish Baths remain and we were eager to experience them for ourselves.

Stepping inside, it’s pure Victorian elegance, from oak panelled changing rooms to intricate mosaic tiling.  After changing into fluffy white dressing gowns a therapist gave us a short tour of the baths explaining what we needed to know.  There are three heated chambers, the ‘warm room’ which warms the body in preparation for the hotter chambers, the ‘hot room’ which allows the warmth to create a therapeutic effect on the muscles and finally the ‘hottest room’ which purifies the body and helps to stimulate circulation.  There is also an ice cold  ‘plunge pool’ which it was recommended that we use between rooms to improve our circulation.

Turkish Baths, Harrogate
Relaxation Room

We started by taking a shower in the tastefully renovated Victorian cubicles before relaxing in each of the chambers.  The baths are elaborately decorated in Moorish designs featuring Arabesque large arches adding to the feeling of tranquility and tickets are limited ensuring a calm atmosphere.  Unlike a Finnish sauna, the rooms are larger with ample space to lie down and relax on beds and stone seats.  The hottest room felt less intense than a sauna but equally relaxing, it was my favourite of the three chambers.  We then went to investigate the plunge pool which was deep enough for a gentle swim.  My friend jumped in and was already swimming whilst I tentatively climbed down the steps dipping a toe in, bracing myself for the cold water –  it was absolutely freezing and I was more than happy to return to the hottest chamber to warm up again afterwards.

The Pump Room Museum, Harrogate
The Pump Room, Museum

Before moving to the Relaxation Room we entered the eucalyptus infused steam room which we both enjoyed, I’m a real fan of steam rooms and saunas so this wasn’t a new experience for me but a first for my friend.  It’s then suggested that to end the spa treatment, guests spend some time in the Relaxation Room on one of the comfortable beds.  Other clients were more organised than us and had brought along face masks and other preparations to pamper themselves with, so we will come prepared if we ever visit the Turkish baths again.  We just relaxed, glancing at some of the glossy magazines provided.  The brochure suggests a visit of 90 minutes but as sessions are morning or afternoon we thought it a good idea to arrive early and take advantage of the entire session.

Montpelier Quarter, Harrogate
Montpelier Quarter, Harrogate

It was then time to step outdoors into the cold but sunny March afternoon leaving with a rosy glow, feeling refreshed and invigorated it was a truly relaxing way to warm up on a cold day.  Close to the Turkish Baths lies the Royal Pump Room museum where the strongest sulphur wells in Europe can be visited.

Continuing our stroll through the town, on Parliament Street we came across Betty’s Tea Rooms, serving traditional dishes in elegant, quintessentially English surroundings, it’s on the corner of the opulent Montpelier Quarter and whatever day or time you visit there will always be a queue for tables.  I believe this to be the most attractive part of town with boutiques, galleries and antique shops overlooking Prospect Park.  After some more time shopping and exploring the centre of this beautiful spa town it was time to return home.  My friend’s verdict on her birthday surprise – thankfully a huge success! sometimes an experience can be even nicer than an actual ‘material’ gift as there are always memories to remember it by.

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40 thoughts on “Harrogate and its Turkish Baths

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  16. Iloenchen

    Wow, that sounds amazing. I’ve never been to a Turkish bath. I’ve always wanted to go but I’ve never had the opportunity. I love your picture of the inside of the bath, it looks exotic and very relaxing at the same time.


  17. I’ve been to Turkish baths in Turkey and they are quite different. I’ve also been to hammams in Morocco and Jordan and they are like the Turkish ones. Have been thinking about visiting York on my next trip to the UK, so will definitely bear this in mind.


  18. Never been to a Turkish bath but a friend of mine recently went to this one in Harrogate. It looks just gorgeous as well as being a great experience. I love Harrogate anyway so it’s good to know about this place too!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Wow this is amazing. Are there baths like this somewhere else in the UK? I have my flight booked for London and will be going to Cambridge too at the end of April 🙂 YAY! I have actually been to a hammam in Istanbul. It was a very exotic experience with a lady washing me with soapy water 😛 As my friend and I had no idea what was going to happen – I can’t say it was a very relaxing experience. Would have to go again to assess if it is! The hammam building itself was magical.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So nice that you are visiting both London and Cambridge in the springtime, I’ll look forward to reading about it later! I looked up Turkish Baths located in the rest of the country and found this website http://www.victorianturkishbath.org/0NOWOPEN/NowOpenSF.htm which lists them all but not many seem as elaborate as the Harrogate one. The Porchester Spa in Westminster does looks lovely though! Haven’t made it to Istanbul yet but hopefully one day!

      Liked by 1 person

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