Falling back in love with the bathtub

Once a regular occurrence, Kate Turner found that life, kids and a grotty bathroom killed her love of a good soak. In search of a little calm, she’s determined to get back in the tub

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By Kate Turner on

When was the last time you had a proper bath? A real-deal, good-and-proper restorative soak? I only ask because, for me, it’s been a while.

Not so long ago, I was the queen of the tub. Sunday-night soaks were built into my diary. I’d often retreat to the bath to get over a stressful day at work or some kind of romantic drama. As a beauty journalist, the bathroom also served as my fragrant escape, somewhere to play with new products and get inspired. It was my favourite place to be.

So, what happened? First, we moved to our lovely new house with just one problem: a decidedly unlovely bathroom. Small and dark with barely any storage and a sorry-looking bath – we haven’t had the time or money to give it the TLC it deserves. It’s become a transitory zone. Get in, get clean, get out.

Now I’m a parent, my once-precious sanctuary has become a cluttered battle zone where bath oils jostle with baby wash, chewed sponges, My Little Pony toys and the occasional breadstick. Relaxing? Not much.

Plus, I don’t seem to have the energy for pampering that I used to. Life is relentlessly demanding. After dinner, I’m more likely to be catching up on work emails in front of Netflix. “Baths take too much time, too much water,” sighs one friend. “I always feel as though I have more important things to do.”

A bath isn’t really about getting clean – it’s more about relaxation. That 20-minute soak could help carve out a little more headspace in a mad, crazy world

The perfunctory shower has nudged the bath down the plughole. But is our obsession with efficiency kind of missing the point? A bath isn’t really about getting clean – it’s more about relaxation. That 20-minute soak could help carve out a little more headspace in a mad, crazy world. And it’s with this in mind that I’m determined to fall back in love with my tub. Here’s my action plan:

Step one: Work on the space

There are lots of little ways to up the ambience of a bathroom without forking out for a full refurb. A gorgeous bathmat sets the sensual tone of the room, being the first thing to greet bare feet. Plants add a Zen-like vibe. Grab yourself a snake plant or orchid, both of which seem to thrive in steamy bathrooms. Of course, candles are non-negotiable, giving even the ugliest of bathrooms a tranquil glow. Invest in one quality scented candle (I love Neom’s Tranquillity candle), then bolster with cheap and cheerful tea lights and turn the lights off. And chuck the kids’ bath toys into a box – out of sight, out of mind. This basket from La Redoute is big enough to fit everything in and looks lovely.

Step two: Make the time

In reality, I need to rely on more than good intentions to get me in the bath on a regular basis. So, I’ve made a new rule: once a week is “no screens night”, when I have to swerve my Stranger Things addiction and chill the old-fashioned way – reading, music, pottering, then BATH. You can always take a good book in with you and kill two birds with one stone. Amara’s bath rack has a built-in stand to keep the pages dry and a slot for your wine glass.

Step three: Buy a lovely bath oil

Simply being in water is healing but, to make your bath work even harder, add anything containing pure essential oils – particularly lavender, sandalwood and vetiver – which act as potent muscle-relaxants and mood-boosters, as well as smelling utterly divine. Friend, facialist and bath lover Anastasia Achilleos once recommended me Ila Bath Salts for Inner Peace and Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath And Shower Oil. Both leave skin satin-soft and don’t leave an oily scum on the bath.

Step four: Do nothing

For the first 10 minutes, do nothing. No scrubbing, no reading and definitely no phone-scrolling. Just soak. Try slipping beneath the water so that even your ears are covered, blocking out ambient sounds, and just breathe. Amazing, right?

Step five: Get a playlist

Chilled melodies can literally slow your heart rate and lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels but, really, anything you love to listen to will do. Load up a favourite podcast, switch on playlist (Spotify even has a "bathtime" one) or try meditation – Anastasia uses the Calm app, which has easy-to-follow meditation sessions. Get yourself some waterproof wireless speakers or a splashproof DAB radio (see edit below).

Here's The happy bathroom shopping list


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