Baths of Caracalla

The Romans really knew how to relax, as this ancient spa complex in Rome attests – it had room for 1,600 leisure-seekers, and came equipped with shops and libraries!

There’s nothing quite like taking an indulgent trip to a spa to let the soothing waters ease the cares of the world from our shoulders. And the ancient Romans felt pretty much the same – if not more so. The city of Rome is an eternal testament to this trend for bathing, playing host to the remains of several ancient thermal baths, or terme. And even the best of our modern-day relaxation facilities isn’t a patch on Ancient Rome’s finest: the staggering Terme di Caracalla, completed in AD 217 by Emperor Caracalla, was a particular highlight of the age. Covering around ten hectares, it could handle up to 1,600 bathers at a time and, as the Roman terme were a place to do more than simply wash and relax, this complex also featured a range of other facilities, from gyms and shops to galleries and libraries. The setting and the ruins themselves remain impressive to this day… eat your heart out, Champneys!