Tucked away in the corner of North of Yorkshire, Britain, lies a spa town called Harrogate, home to the last entirely fully working Victorian Turkish Bath in England.
Locals and tourists flock here to have tea at Betty’s Tea Room, admire the historical buildings, or shop in the boutiques. Many do not know that a Victorian Turkish Bath is open to the public. Many who live in this region have not been. I’ll never understand this. The Victorian Turkish Baths of Harrogate are quite possibly one of the most underrated things to do in Yorkshire.
What is a Victorian Turkish Bath?
A Turkish bath, otherwise known as a “Hammam,” is a place of bathing widely associated with the Islamic world. During the Victorian Era, baths spread throughout Europe as a popular method of cleaning and relaxation.
There are two main differences between the Islamic hammam and Victorian Turkish baths. Victorian Turkish baths use dry air, and a dip in a cold pool follows bathing. Hammams typically use steamier air, which is wetter. Most hammams don’t have a plunge pool unless there is flowing water in the hammam. Instead, you splash yourself with cold water.
Benefits of Turkish Baths
Turkish baths, steam rooms, and saunas are all known for their health benefits. Harrogate Victorian Turkish Baths offers you the best of all worlds:
|Removes dead skins
|Helps you relax
|Improves skin health
|Improves skin health
|It helps preserve muscle mass
|Enables deep relaxation
|Enables deep relaxation
|Boosts heart health
|Eases muscle tension
|Lowers blood pressure
|Improves skin strength
|Increases blood circulation
|Increases blood circulation
|It helps to eliminate toxins.
|Lowers joint stiffness
|Eases bronchitis symptoms
Open Victorian Turkish Baths In England
Currently, eleven Victorian Turkish baths are open in the British Isles.
Among them, eight are in England (one during Queen Victoria’s reign); the three in Scotland were built during the Victorian period.
- Harrogate Turkish Baths & Health Spa – Parliament Street, HG1 2WH
- Islington Ironmonger Row Baths – L1 Norman Street, EC1V 3AA
- Newcastle UponTyne -The City Baths – Northumberland Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 8SG
- Northampton Mounts Baths Leisure Centre Health Suite -Upper Mounts, Northampton, NN1 3DN
- Royal Automobile Club (Members’ Club Only) – 89-91 Pall Mall, SW1Y 5HS
- Swindon Health Hydro, Milton Road, SN1 5JA
- Tower Hamlets York Hall Leisure Centre – Old Ford Road, E2 9PJ
- Westminster The Porchester Centre – Queensway, W2 5HS
The Best Historical Turkish Baths in Britain
- Harrogate– Turkish Baths
- London– Ironmonger Row
Harrogate Victorian Turkish Baths
It was built in 1897 and renovated many times, most recently in 2018. Harrogate Council owns the Turkish Baths and opens them to the public, making them affordable. These ancient baths are not reserved for the rich and famous. Think champagne on a Coca-Cola budget. Every European Royal Family member has visited Harrogate to take in the water– so should you.
When you first enter, the baths appear to be a modern-day spa housed in a Victorian building.
However, you will be met by opulence and grandeur from an era long gone when you go downstairs. You can feel the building’s age since the history, and the quietness consumes you. The Islamic influence is apparent; suddenly, you feel like you are not in Yorkshire.
You will notice the original features, such as the toilets, the wooden changing rooms, and the large lounge room filled with lounge beds. You will then be struck by the glazed tiles, vibrant in color, coupled with the arches.
Visiting Harrogates Victorian Turkish Baths
On my first visit, I ran around to take photos while respecting guests. At first blush, it reminded me of the Ironmonger Row Baths in London. Only the Harrogate Victorian Turkish Baths are much more exotic.
I often went alone, so there was a sense of shyness. You are getting into a bathing suit to walk past all the people relaxing. Gut reaction – is everyone looking at me? The reality is no one is interested in you or your attire. Everyone is zoned out in their happy place.
The second you walk to the baths and relax, all is well. You are moving around, stretching, and zoning out from here on out, which is neither an issue. Even during a unisex session!
What is the Harrogate Victorian Turkish Bath Experience Like?
Before I explain this, I should tell you this is not for you if you don’t enjoy the heat, sauna, or steam rooms. It’s also not for you if you dislike sharing space without your whole attire. The idea is to relax; you can only do that if you are open to hanging around with strangers in your bathing suit.
Turkish baths are chambers of varying heat. In the Harrogate baths, there are seven chambers and a steam room. You sit or lie in different compartments and relax. As you relax, you will start to heat up and sweat. The sweat extraction cleanses you from head to toe as you get a hot shower or plunge into the cold pool. I used to be too chicken for the cold pools. I’ve since graduated and now enjoy it. They should be called “freeze-to-death pools” because they will freeze you if you stay too long. I also like to combine a body scrub and oil and lather myself for a while in baths.
As you acclimate to the heat, you go from chamber to chamber, increasing the heat based on your tolerance level. Or rotate into the steam room. If you are unfamiliar with steam rooms, they blast extreme amounts of steam into a small confined space, and you sweat. You will come out of a steam room soaking wet, whereas you can sit in a Turkish bath and sweat.
While caring for my mother, I repeatedly retreated to the Harrogate Victorian Turkish Baths. I would drive 20 minutes from Leeds to Harrogate to sit and think. As crazy as it sounds, the heat clears your skin and makes your head. You will be rejuvenated, clean, and calm. And you will enjoy the best sleep of your life following a bath.
The Spa At Harrogate Victorian Turkish Baths
Despite the name, the Harrogate Victorian Turkish Baths are also home to a luxurious spa worthy of any spa snob’s attention. You can indulge in various massages, reiki, reflexology, Indian head massage, traditional Hammam treatments, facials, and other services. Their list is quite impressive! And, again, it is affordable, with an express body scrub coming in at £34.
Tour Harrogate Victorian Turkish Bath Spa
Harrogate Victorian Turkish Baths offers guided tours on several weekday mornings where a resident historian will guide you through the unique history and experience of the Turkish Baths. Tours last approximately 45 minutes and cost £4.00 per person. Please book a place by contacting them on 01423 556746. Much like the baths, times are subject to availability.
Tours Of Harrogate
Can You Bathe Naked?
Since March of 2013, naked bathing has been banned at Harrogate Turkish Baths.
In the past, there used to be same-sex sessions where you could indeed bathe naked if you chose to. This all stopped due to an incident. Police in North Yorkshire confirmed they were investigating an incident earlier in March. According to a police statement, inappropriate behavior occurred at the Turkish Baths.
As a result, regardless of whether you are attending a same-sex or mixed session, bathing suits are mandatory.
What do I wear at Turkish Baths, Harrogate?
It’s pretty straightforward. Grab your bathing suit (one or two pieces), and that’s it!
What To Bring With You
Realistically, you could show up with just your bathing suit. This said I like to take my own toiletries and body scrub. If you don’t feel like bringing those, don’t despair. They sell travel-size sets of everything you would need:
Slippers and robes are only provided to those who have opted for a spa treatment. So, if you do not want to walk around barefoot or enjoy a robe, you must bring those items.
Hairdryers and straighteners are also provided.* Note: You are not permitted to bring any hair tools.
What Does It Cost For The Turkish Baths at Harrogate?
As of 2024, pricing is as follows for the Turkish Bath:
FAQs About Harrogate’s Victorian Turkish Baths
Are towels provided?
Yes, towels are provided and are included in your visit.
Do I need a reservation?
Yes. Without a doubt. Not to say you could not get lucky, but I have been on a whim and unable to get in because it was full.
Are the Harrogate baths unisex?
There are men, only women, and unisex sessions. Check the calendar to find a session that suits your taste. The changing rooms are shared, but you will have a private stall.
How long can I stay?
Sessions last from two to three hours. Check the schedule to see which session is best for you.
Think of all the possibilities! From a solo relaxing couple of hours to a group gathering. Spend a night or the weekend in Harrogate, and enjoy the baths at night! Celebrate a special occasion here, like a birthday or anniversary. You can reserve the place for yourself, assuming you have a big enough party.
Ladies, what are you waiting for? If you live in Yorkshire, get to it and book this royal experience today!
If you are visiting England, this is one of many reasons why Yorkshire should be on your list of places to visit! It’s beyond worth the trip. After all, where else in England can you bathe in a Victorian Turkish Bath that once hosted the Royals?
Looking for more posts to inspire you? Start here:
- Blackpool, England – Things To See and Do
- Belfast Peace Walls – The Black Cab Tour
- Bettys Tea Room Harrogate: A Classic British Experience
- Castle Howard – Yorkshires Brideshead Revisited
- Chatsworth House – England
- Harewood House – England
- Harrogate Majestic Hotel: A Luxurious Stay in the Heart of North Yorkshire
- North Yorkshire England – The Complete Guide
- Turkish Baths In Harrogate, England
- York – The Heart Of The Viking Territory
- Yorkshire Lavender Explored
- Whitby Abbey – The Complete Guide
We participate in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.