Bath time!

Those little mosaic tiles we bought in Paris and shipped home


By Caitlin Kelly

Too funny.

Turns out bathing is the new black, according to The New York Times Style section:

“In the past two years we have seen bath time taking off,” said Alisha Ramos, the publisher of Girls’ Night In, an online newsletter aimed at 25-to-34-year-olds seeking a respite from overcharged lives. For her followers and a widening circle of contemporaries, the bath is a place to unplug, to indulge in the ultimate luxury: taking time for oneself.

When we renovated our minuscule — 35 square foot — only bathroom — the deepest tub I could find was top of mind. It’s 21 inches deep, takes a good 20 minutes-plus to fill and is annoying as hell to clean.

But oooooohhhhhhhh. The luxury of having every inch covered by warm water, especially on cold, windy winter days.

I buy cheap-o bath oil and toss in drops of scented oils: cinnamon, eucalyptus, peppermint. Or my favorite product ever, Algemarin, a German product which my granny used to use, which turns the water a deep blue and smells divine.

I know showers are more efficient, but — as anyone who reads this blog knows already — efficiency is not my highest goal. Pleasure, yes. Our building’s water pressure is lousy, so a shower is also no great source of enjoyment.

I don’t stay in the tub for hours, usually maybe 15 minutes at most.

I designed our bathroom to look and feel like a spa somewhere in the Middle East, splurging on gorgeous tile I shipped home from Paris, choosing a strong mustard Farrow & Ball color for the walls and adding metal touches like the copper jug I bought in Istanbul, a copper handmade sink we bought in Mexico for $30, ($1,000 here), a small brass bucket to hold things like toothpaste and floss and a metalwork bowl my father brought home from Jerusalem.

The curved wooden vanity, (which I also designed and had custom-made), floats above the floor to make cleaning easier.

I also planned for safety and comfort and made sure the edge of the tub is a wide, smooth piece of marble, perfect for sitting on comfortably when ill or post-surgery.

One of the happiest moments of my life was on a bitterly cold winter’s day in Paris, visiting one of the city’s many old-school hammams, spending the day wet and steamy, then swaddled tightly in crisp white sheets, then sipping mint tea.

A schmancy spa has nothing on an old-school hammam, crowded and noisy and a real taste of normal life for even middle-class Parisians; my last visit to one, in the 18th. arrondissement, had me slipping across a marble slab with dozens of naked women, clustered like seals.

Quel souvenir!


Are you a bath person?

24 thoughts on “Bath time!

  1. I always tell people that, for me, a shower cleans the body and a bath cleans the soul. I love relaxing in very hot water, using scented salts, and just letting stress float away for a while.

    Like you, my tub is deep and difficult to clean … but worth it!

    1. LOVE baths.

      The steam heat is amazing — I did one in Montreal at BotaBota and couldn’t see a thing! That plus slippery surfaces was crazy dangerous and only possible in a country much less litigious than the States.

  2. Heide

    A huge OUI here also to baths. I used to have an old clawfoot tub in my previous house, the kind with a faucet like a telephone receiver (the tub that is, not the house — ha!). It was about three feet deep and just the right length for me to stretch out, and I read I-don’t-know-how-many books in that little bathroom while turning into a Badedas-scented prune. Alas, my husband and I sold the house in 2017 and moved to a condo, where we have only a shower. On the plus side, the building does have a sauna — an excellent substitute, I think. But now you have me wondering whether maybe I should try a hammam. Your description of the women slipping across the slab like a cluster of seals sure brought a smile! Wonderful writing as always, Caitlin.

      1. Heide

        How cool that you know about Badedas! Sadly, the new formula doesn’t turn your skin fluorescent green, ha ha.

        And thanks a million for the info on the hammam! I’ll check it out when I visit in May. (Also intrigued by the additional “caramel” depilation service. I’m sure the actual experience is less pleasant than I’m imagining, but the idea of being slathered in hot caramel does sound heavenly on this bleak winter day.)

      2. Heide

        “The soap is … particularly enjoyable for dry and mature skin.” SOLD! Though being hosed down sounds lovely too. (Oh how you crack me up, Caitlin!)

      3. It’s all quite bizarre but also…fun. I do it maybe once every two years. If we’re back in Paris this June as planned, I will.

        My skin is now in more challenging shape thanks to the radiation on my left breast so I have to be more careful.

  3. My bathroom isn’t that cool so it’s strictly business. There’s a clawfoot tub like Heide’s, with the telephone receiver shower head. The hose turns the cold water way up when I rinse my head and the plastic shower curtain, just like the one in “Psycho” wants to stick to me. Like I said, strictly business.
    I don’t even want to know about a hotel room unless it has a nice bathroom. After a day of knocking around wherever I’m ready for that super long shower before dinner.
    The bathroom is next on our list of upgrades. You can get a fair amount of money for a clawfoot tub so that’s going to help with a better shower and the whole design really needs working over, it’s terrible.

    1. Yeah…shower curtains are….UGH unless they do NOT cling to you.

      In the photo of our tub here it doesn’t show the added swinging glass door that (sort of) protects the floor when we use the shower. I should have made it about 6 inches wider, but it’s fine. I really hate shower curtains, even when they are pretty.

      Hotels are all getting rid of their tubs anyway now in favor of gorgeous rainfall showers. Shallow tubs are hell to get out of safely.

  4. I do enjoy a good bath every now and then, especially when my back is feeling sore. However, my bathtub is kind of small, so it’s hard to lay in it comfortably and soak. If I buy my own home someday, I hope it has a good sized tub, or that I can install one without too much expense.

  5. your bathroom/personal spa space sounds lovely and I’m so jealous! ) I am all about taking baths. I love to take a bath at the end of the day, with a bit of lavender and bath oil, along with a nice cup of tea and an inviting book. one of the finest ways to end a day –

  6. I love baths and take one almost every day in the winter when (especially in Britain) it’s dark and a bit grim. Instant warmth and mood boost–good for the soul.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s