The bathroom is unlikely to top anyone’s priority list when planning a holiday. But the best offer a whole lot more than just a place to freshen up. Some are so special you’ll want to soak in them all day. Here’s our guide to the world’s most terrific tubs and their glorious views.
At the Jade Mountain Resort in St Lucia, your lair is set high in the hills and not even a window lies between you and a stunning view across the blue Caribbean.
Most of the rooms leave at least one wall entirely absent, and warm winds flow through the hotel’s huge bedrooms, living areas and bathrooms – where you can wallow in a circular whirlpool bath that’s easily big enough for two.
The view from one of the whirlpools at the Jade Mountain Resort in St Lucia. Most of the rooms leave at least one wall entirely absent so you can soak up the views
Better still, most are mounted on pedestals to ensure you don’t miss any of the land and seascape stretching out ahead of you. By day, gaze at St Lucia’s most famous sights, the Piton Mountains that rise vertically from the sea. By night, watch the lights of yachts crossing the bay – or switch on coloured underwater lamps in your tub for a touch of surreal luxury.
When you do leave the bathroom, you can explore the major sites of the southern part of the island, including the rainforest, botanical gardens, unique ‘drive-in’ volcano, and sulphur springs, which are all within easy reach.
There are also deep-sea fishing excursions and if you fancy a challenge, hike up Gros Piton to see if you can spot your room (and your bath) in the distance.
The best time to visit St Lucia is between November and April, when rainfall is low and the temperatures are at their balmiest. But with luxury and views guaranteed it’s hard to find a bad time to be there. Rooms – called sanctuaries – start at £937 a night for two while British Airways flies direct to St Lucia from £428 (jademountain.com).
Only one thing can beat a perfectly positioned bathtub with a view, and that’s a second tub right next to it for the ultimate romantic soak.
That’s what the owners of Hotel Crillon Le Brave in Provence thought when they transformed a series of ancient buildings into a five-star hotel.
At the Hotel Crillon Le Brave in Provence guests can hold hands while having a bath and admiring the quintessentially French landscape before them
Lucky guests can hold hands while balancing a drinks tray or a chessboard between their tubs. Look away from your other half to take in rolling hills, a pretty Provencal village and a quintessentially French landscape.
Hotel staff can bring the surroundings alive by booking unique tours.
A favourite is to rent a vintage Citroen 2CV and follow a route that highlights all the best viewpoints, a series of gourmet and antique markets and a string of historic villages.
Alternatively, visit the vast, Gothic Palais des Papes in nearby Avignon. Fly to Marseilles or Nice, then book B&B from about £320 (crillonlebrave.com).
Urban landscapes look just as enticing from a hot bath and few places do urban as well as Tokyo. Better still, at the high-rise Aman Tokyo Hotel in Japan you’re right up amid the tallest skyscrapers when you sink into a traditional furo soaking bath made specifically for the hotel. Basalt walls and granite floor bring a calm, Zen-like feel while light timber partitions anchor you firmly in Japan.
Extraordinary views from one of the baths at the high-rise Aman Tokyo Hotel in Japan. The traditional furo soaking baths were made specifically for the hotel
Ahead of you is the skyline of the city, now punctured by the 2,080ft Tokyo Skytree, second only to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai as the tallest structure in the world. On a clear day you can also see the incredible symmetry of Mount Fuji.
Back on the city streets you’re in the heart of the ancient Otemachi neighbourhood so it’s easy to tour the Imperial Palace Gardens or to shop the boutiques of Ginza and the Shibuya district.
A popular option among hotel guests is to take a tailor-made Art Journey through the city’s contemporary and classical art galleries. Local experts will show you ancient Japanese art, ceramics, photography and sculpture.
If you check in during spring when the cherry blossom season dawns, expect to be surrounded by romantic, blush-pink colours and to have petals in your bathwater.
Japan is never cheap, but insidejapantours.com negotiates discounts when it can. Deals include three-night packages from £3,598pp to include your sky-high hotel room, breakfast, private airport transfers and direct BA flights from London in Premium Economy. Hotel details at aman.com/resorts/aman-tokyo.
Why look at one ocean from your hotel bath when you can look at two? Do the double at the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in South Africa, where tubs have views of the point where the warm Indian Ocean meets the much colder Atlantic.
Waves and white horses mark the area where the waters mix, close to the southernmost tip of the continent.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in South Africa features smart bathrooms that face the point where the warm Indian Ocean meets the much colder Atlantic. Floor-to-ceiling windows make the most of the views
Lie back and watch from the minimalist perfection of a deep, white-porcelain bath in a clean, crisp bathroom where floor-to-ceiling windows bring the outside in. And what an outside it is, with the reserve tucked between mountains, forests and sea.
A real treat is the resort’s 4×4 ‘safari with a difference’. It’s a botanical safari in an open-top Land Rover that immerses you in the beauty of shaded glades, mountain peaks and vast fields of flowers.
Your guides will be expert naturalists and can show how a sunbird’s beak fits perfectly into a flower, why local honey is unique and why forest fires can bring forth new life.
A great time to visit is between July and December, when hundreds of Southern White Whales return to feed in the waters around the coast.
But with some 800 species of plant growing all year round, there’s always new life to see on land. Fly to Cape Town and check in at the reserve – prices start at about £760 a night (grootbos.com).
At Les Sources de Caudalie in France, it’s not just the bathrooms that delight, it’s the water that comes through their taps.
The hotel is surrounded by vineyards and the mineral-rich waters guests enjoy are drawn from a natural hot spring deep below.
The tubs at Les Sources de Caudalie in France are designed to look like the wooden barrels that store Bordeaux’s best wines
Expect softer skin after stretching out in a tub designed to look like the wooden barrels that store Bordeaux’s best wines.
Want to feel even more connected to the vineyard? Add vine and grape extracts to the water in special, therapeutic soaks.
If you can bear to leave your room, try a mixology workshop based on the local Bordeaux wines. Or book a guided bike tour past magnificent local chateaux.
Autumn, when vines turn to gold and the equinox sunlight appears to dance on the wind, is a great time to visit. Fly to Bordeaux, then find rooms from £187 a night (sources-caudalie.com).
African safaris can be uncomfortable affairs and if you don’t fancy bouncing around in the back of a jeep as you track the Big Five, why not soak in a bath and wait for the animals to come to you?
That’s the opportunity offered at Wilderness Abu Camp, Botswana, where wooden decks around the luxury tents support deep, Victorian-style copper bathtubs. Expect to come nose to beak with exotic birdlife as you soak. Or gaze across the plain to the nearby waterhole, the go-to spot for zebras, antelopes, warthogs, lions and elephants.
Expect to come nose to beak with exotic birdlife as you unwind in the Victorian-style copper bathtubs at Wilderness Abu Camp, Botswana
Dark skies and bright stars make soaks a joy at night. If you tire of the tub, then private plunge pools are on offer as well.
Away from camp, you can hike across the bush to find the Abu herd of rescue elephants that live in the reserve, and learn how careful conservation efforts have encouraged them to breed. You might even see babies!
The other way to take to the waters in Africa is to board a dug-out canoe during the annual Okavango inundation from May when you can paddle through brand new lagoons, channels and waterways alongside hippos, antelope and myriad birds.
Rates for 2021 are under wraps and will be high, as Botswana is famously expensive. Get more details at abucamp.com and consider a tailor-made trip from cazloyd.com.
Candles, classical music and a steaming cup of gluhwein can make any bath feel special. Enjoy all three when your tub is surrounded by high windows and built into the windowsill of a famous Alpine hotel and things hit a new level of luxury.
The opportunity comes at the historic Gstaad Palace Hotel in Switzerland, where all 90 rooms enjoy panoramic views over the Bernese Oberland.
In the autumn and winter, gaze from the marble masterpiece across a snowy wonderland. In spring the bathtime view is of colourful wildflowers, while in summer cow bells tinkle as cattle graze on the rolling green fields ahead of you. Head down to the hotel’s public rooms, where it’s opulent but never stuffy.
Let the stunning Alpine views wash over you while enjoying a luxurious bath at the Gstaad Palace Hotel in Switzerland
The Palace is one of the last family-owned ‘grand hotels’ of Europe. Opened in 1913, it is now run by the third generation of the Scherz family.
Expect amazing food and wine in the many restaurants. Then work it off on skis in winter or on a bike tour in summer – when e-bikes can help with steeper hills.
Half-board packages let guests enjoy breakfast and dinner in glamorous restaurants. Fly to Geneva or Milan, then book a room from £384 a night for two (palace.ch).
If exclusivity is your thing, then the free-standing bath in the Kohinoor suite of the Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel in Agra is hard to beat.
Everything about the bathroom in this sumptuous suite reflects the regal splendour of Agra, the jewel in India’s crown.
Experience some regal splendour in the Kohinoor suite of the Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel in Agra. The free-standing tub in the bathroom boasts views of the lush gardens and the Taj Mahal
Carved elephants, mirrored walls and marble columns surround you, while a golden-domed ceiling appears to hover above.
But look outside for the real joy: fountains, terraced lawns, reflection pools, pavilions and, yes, there is the Taj Mahal.
It’s a must to visit this ultimate monument to an undying love. But there’s much more to do in and around Agra, the capital of the Mughal Empire in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Agra Fort and the ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri are unmissable Unesco World Heritage Sites. Rooms cost from £240 (oberoihotels.com).