How Ancient Roman baths are making a splash in New York (but at $75 for a two-hour session, this Manhattan makeover comes at a cost)
22:38 GMT, 8 March 2012
New York is to soon to have its very own ancient bath house. It will not, of course, be genuinely Roman, but it promises to be as close to the experience as the modern city can manage.
The Aire Ancient Baths will deliver the millennia-old tradition of bathing while socialising to TriBeCa.
As in the days of the Roman and Greek Empires, visitors will be able to make use of the caldarium or hot bath, the tepidarium or warm bath and the frigidarium or cold bath as well as an ice bath, salt pool and a selection of massage and therapy options.
Veni, vidi, vici: The Aire Ancient Baths promise to deliver a touch of ancient Rome to none other than New York's Tribeca neighbourhood
The spa's different bath chambers keep the varying water temperatures at the optimum level – according to the Aire site, the caldarium will be maintained at 102F the tepidarium at 97F and the frigidarium at 61F.
The ice bath – not common in ancient times – will be kept refreshingly chilly at a temperature below 46F in the high-end industrial-style setting.
Forbes reports that the 16,000-square-foot spa, the first the Spanish company will open in the U.S., is to be housed in an 1883 building. Taking the best of the ancient and modern worlds, the accent is firmly on pampering and unwinding.
That is not all that differs from the days of chariots, emperors and two-to-a-penny above-ground bath houses.
Thermae tempus (that's bath-time in latin): A two-hour visit costs $75 and a Red Wine Ritual is a princely $450. The spa blends ancient with modern
Given that 2,000 years have passed since thermae (baths) were in their heyday, it's perhaps only expected that things in the public bathing world have become somewhat more regulated.
When the spa opens later this month, there will be no opportunity to bring a capsarius – a servant to carry masters' towels and possessions – or strigil (dirt-scraper)-baring slaves.
Nudity is a strict no-no and visitors are requested to wear bathing suits at all times. If a guest forgets to bring a modest-protecting layer, the management will make arrangements.
Not quite a Roman bath-house: The new thermae will be housed in an 1883 building in New York's TriBeCa
Ancient history: The industrially-housed Manhattan baths are a long way off from the restored ancient thermae in England's city of Bath
The luxury of the new baths – this is not ancient Rome, after all – comes at a price. $75 buys two hours in the hot pools, where guests are limited to 20 at a time.
Massages and treatments are additional and, for the truly indulgent, a decidedly un-Roman-sounding Kerala Ritual will set a lucky bather back $500.
A thoroughly more theme-appropriate option is the Red Wine Ritual, costing a cool $450. Well, when (almost) in Rome…