Hot Springs Bath House

BathhouseI love baths! Any human who knows me in real life knows that I don’t even take showers (unless absolutely necessary). Baths! Baths! Baths! All day long. They are just so pleasant and relaxing. Did anyone see that episode of Friends where Chandler is all confused about why girls (specifically Monica, if I recall) take baths and then he takes a hot bubble bath and his life is never the same? That’s basically me.

So, when I heard about an old-fashioned bath house with optional massage, I thought, Yes! These are my people. THIS is my jam.

They don’t take reservations, so I just got there early per the recommendation of the ranger at the Hot Springs National Park visitor’s center. I signed up for the bath WITH the massage. My back has been majorly messed up with way too much driving / camping so it was the least I could do.

And it was awesome in almost every way.

The only thing I was unprepared for was getting totally naked in front of a stranger. And having her, like, scrub my body with a loofah. I had done a small amount of research and the Web site actually shows a woman bathing in a sheet thing so I guess I thought I would get a sheet thing. Or at least there wouldn’t be anyone in the bath tub room once I removed my sheet thing. Not so.

I’m not the most modest person. But then again, I am not the least modest person. The only female I’ve been even kind of naked in front of in YEARS have been physicians. So, yeah. Fair warning: your bath attendant is going to see all of you. Luckily, it’s their job and they’re professional about it and they make it as un-weird as possible. And it IS really relaxing and delightful.

After the bath house experience I went on the visitor’s center tour, which was super fascinating. The ranger gave a ton of history about bath houses (they were originally for men!) and a ton of information about that specific bath house which was purchased by the national park and is now used as the visitor’s center.

Bath houses had an incredible rate of healing everything that ails people, even back in the day: higher even, than hospitals. Basically, it was attributed to the fact that Bath Houses were cleaner than hospitals AND that most ailments are stress-related anyway and seriously, what is a better way to relieve stress? No seriously, have I mentioned baths are the best?

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