8 Things Every Bathroom Needs for a Great Bath

Essential oils, bath salts and more: How to turn a boring bath into a spa one

Baby in a bath
Dean Wissing / Flickr / (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I'm a huge bath taker, especially in the late fall, winter and early spring when temperatures outside are can still be a bit frigid here in New York. My dream bath would include a huge soaking tub with a picture window overlooking a raging river. The floor would be heated, the towels would be warming on one of those fabulous towel warmers and I'd relax in bubbles lit only by candlelit.

Of course, my NYC tiny bathroom has none of the above, but what it lacks in ambiance, I make up for in other fabulous bath features.

Here, I present, 8 things every bathroom needs for a luxurious bath.

And of all the things on your list, there's one every luxurious bath has in common. And that's....

Big, Fluffy Soft Towels of a Certain Color

What do all luxury hotels and spas have in common? Big, fluffy white towels. Not colorful towels. Not towels with designs that perfectly match the bathroom decor. No. White towels. 

There's something about white that translates to luxury. Maybe it's because white shows stains, so you wouldn't put them out unless they were in good condition. But it's not just the color that matters because my local YMCA and every Motel 6 in the country has white towels and they are the thinnest, cheapest, most uncomfortable towels a person can buy.

The towels in your bathroom should be thick, soft and luxurious. Even if you only use them for baths and for guests, they are worth the buy. 

I also like Turkish bath towels, the thin, gorgeous towels that you may have seen in Lonny and Elle Decor and other trendy places.

While these are trendy, they don't feel as luxurious as the white fluffy towels, but they look fabulous.

Scrubbing Mitts & a Good Body Scrub

If you go to a Korean spa for a body scrub, you learn very quickly that we are covered in dead skin because the ladies scrub so much you end up covered in balls of your dead self.

Now I don't get body scrubs on a monthly basis, so I try to exfoliate with scrubbing mitts every time I take a bath. I also have a scrubbing towel for scrubbing my back.

A good mitt and a scrubbing towel work best with a decent body scrub. The combination helps turn a regular bath into a spa experience (even if you are doing all the scrubbing work yourself).

A few must-reads:

  • The Right Way to Apply a Body Scrub
  • See my list of the Top 11 Body Scrubs & Bath Salts
  • Or make your own. Get recipes in My Best Body Scrub Recipes

The Right Lighting

To get the ambiance right, you have to have mood lighting. This means a dimmer in your bathroom, candles galore and maybe even a chandelier meant just for those evenings you want to spend luxuriating in the tub.

Did I mention my dream bath would have a chandelier on a dimmer used primarily for my bath taking?

But even if you can't get a dimmer or a chandelier, at least get the candles. What luxurious bath doesn't have candles? You can't relax in a room with glaring lights. A few candles around the bathroom and on the tub itself screams luxury. Just lock the doors so the kids can't break into ruin your reverie.

Bath Oils

I suffer from dry skin, especially in winter.

Unfortunately, hot water wrecks havoc on dry skin. To offset the bad effects of the hot water, and to make my baths more luxurious, I almost always pour in bath oils. I have collected so many of them over the years that I may be 80 before I run out.

Bath oils make the both the bath water silky and your skin silky smooth. The oils seem to protect skin from the harmful effects of hot water on the skin (and who wants to take a bath that's not hot?). Just be sure to clean out the tub when you're done or the next person in could slip and break something. That is the opposite of relaxing.

My favorite oils are from Jo Malone, Fresh, and Dr. Hauschka.

Lavender, Rose or Geranium Essential Oils

Essential oils are wonderful for baths. I particularly love lavender. You simply put about 10 drops in the bath water and the smell will fill the room and stick on you.

Just be sure to not include other scented items for your bath, like a scented bubble bath or scented soap. Try to keep everything lavender, rose or geranium themed or include non-scented bubble bath.

Lavender will help you sleep better, as will marjoram oil.

Epsom Salts

You can buy a box of Epsom salts at any drugstore. There's nothing better for soaking tired or sore muscles. These are great for after exercise, surgery or anything that leaves you feeling depleted. Pour a cup under running warm water and then get in and soak away your soreness.

A Cozy Robe and Slippers

Is there anything more mood-killing than getting out of a bath and being cold? If you don't have the towel warmers and the heated floor, at least get yourself a warm cozy robe and slippers to slip into once you leave your luxurious bath.

3 Fun Things to Consider Putting Into Your Bath

These are not musts, but they could be fun....

  1. Baking Soda for Sensitive Skin. While bubble baths are fun for most of us, they aren't for people with sensitive skin or eczema. Make your own soothing, fizzy bath using 20 drops of your favorite essential oil (again, lavender, rose or geranium are favorites) and a box of baking soda.
  2. Coconut Milk. I love coconut oil for moisturizing, but I've read coconut milk is great for baths. Simply pour a large can into your bath. You'll love the smell, which I assume is much nicer than whole milk. Add a few drops of an essential oil for added scent.
  3. Red Wine. I have never done this, but according to the book, "The Black Book of Hollywood Secrets," actress Teri Hatcher likes to pour a cup of antioxidant-rich red wine into her baths. According to the book, Hatcher uses old wine and lets the sediment fall to the bottom of the tub, after which she'll scoop them up and use them as an exfoliant. The polyphenols found in grapes are supposed to jump-start circulation revealing healthier, glowing skin.

Finally, Don't Forget a Glass of Wine, Netflix or a Good Book

I don't know about bathing in wine, but I do believe in bathing with wine.

To make your luxurious bath complete, don't forget the candles, a glass of something delicious (like wine or even hot cocoa or tea) and a good book. I've even watched my favorite shows on Netflix while taking a bath. Just make sure your computer isn't at risk for taking the bath with you.

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