Forget hot tubs – the latest trend is to soak in a backyard bath

What a way to splash out! Forget hot tubs – the latest trend is for a backyard bath where you can soak under the stars (just watch out for the neighbours!) 

  • Five women recount the joys of indulging in an outdoor bath in an idyllic setting
  • Some created the feature as part of holiday rentals they operate, while others use their bath as their own personal oasis
  • Perfect for date nights, me time or a post-work out dip – Could you be tempted? 

Great for a dip after a workout

Pictured: Emma Southcombe, 33, who lives in Tonbridge, Kent with her fiancé Ritchie

Emma Southcombe, 33, is an estate agent and property investor. She lives in Tonbridge, Kent, with her fiancé Ritchie, also 33, who works for a logistics company. 

She says:

‘After a workout and sauna in our garden gym, there’s nothing better than climbing into our outdoor bath for a cooling dip.

‘We moved into our four-bedroom home in March 2020 and thought about how to use our garden, as we’re not green-fingered. We have fake grass, patios and terraces, a detached conservatory that houses the gym — and our outdoor bathtub.

‘During the first lockdown, we did think about getting a hot tub, but the maintenance and chemical checks put me off. Instead, I turned to Instagram and came across some outdoor bathtubs. But I wanted it to be a pretty feature and not to look as though we’d dumped an old bath.

‘I bought an acrylic, roll-top, clawfoot bath I found on an online marketplace. The bath isn’t plumbed in, but we fitted taps next to it so it can be filled from hoses. It cost around £250 and water drains down a slope.

‘Luckily our garden is elevated and only overlooked by one house, but I always bathe in my swimsuit, so it’s not a problem.

‘I love taking baths, and use it after exercising, or to relax in an evening while looking at the stars. Our Shit Tzu dog Bella likes to climb in, too.

‘If we have a barbecue, we’ll fill the bath with ice, so it has lots of uses. It’s proved a talking point.’

Perfect place for Buck’s Fizz and brekkie

Pictured: Debbie Greaves, 46, lives near Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria with her husband Richard

Debbie Greaves, 46, lives near Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, with husband Richard, 56, their dog Ned and cat Mandu. They own three holiday cottages (acornerofeden. co.uk) in the grounds of their home. 

She says:

‘With nowhere to go to celebrate my birthday during the first lockdown, Richard came up with a surprise — buck’s fizz and breakfast in our outdoor bath.

‘It’s made of cast iron, cost £1,200 and is painted in Farrow & Ball’s Rectory Red. We have the same one inside and thought it would be striking against the stone walls. Outdoors, there’s something idyllic about a soak surrounded by nature.

‘We bought our farm 15 years ago and, when we converted the cottages, we added a wood-fired hot tub to one, which was such a hit we decided to do something similar at another.

‘Four years ago, outdoor bathtubs weren’t a big thing but I saw examples on Instagram.

‘We installed it in 2017 within a walled garden near a 100-year-old copper beech tree, so guests can use it in privacy all year.

‘The cottage is often booked for guests, but we used it a lot during the first lockdown.

‘The bath is low maintenance and hardy. It sits on a decked area that looks like wooden railway sleepers but is made from recycled plastic. The decking also hides the plumbing, which pipes water heated by our wood-pellet boiler, and the drain.

‘One of the most memorable moments was in lockdown when Richard and I drank champagne and watched the moon rising. Our custom-built champagne stand means you don’t have to lean out to top up your glasses.’

Our secluded sanctuary is the ideal spot for a date night 

Helen McGrath-Doherty, 55, lives in Woodton, Norfolk, with her husband Peter and their two children

Helen McGrath-Doherty, 55, lives in Woodton, Norfolk, with her husband Pete, 55, an operations manager, and their children Finn, 21, and Erin, 17. 

She says:

‘While many couples head to a restaurant for date night, my husband and I prefer to grab a bottle of wine and make our way to the outdoor bathtub in our six-acre wildflower meadow.

‘Set on the veranda of an off-grid cabin that we built ourselves after renovating the barn where we live, the bathtub overlooks our large pond, complete with jetty and rowing boat.

‘Large enough for two, we fill the bath with hot water, light the firepit and lots of candles and sit beneath the stars.

‘I didn’t know what to do with an old galvanised water tank that was part of the original barn. Then someone suggested we could turn it into an outdoor bath. Suddenly I could see the potential.

‘So, a year ago, we insulated the tank and placed a cast-iron bath inside to make it more comfy, then added an oak surround and taps. During the winter, a log burner inside the cabin heats the water, but we have a boiler to ensure we have hot water in the summer. The water then drains away from the bath into the ecological reed-bed drainage system.

‘Usually we rent the cabin out (albionnights.co.uk), but with no guests during the lockdowns Pete and I made full use of it.

‘On hot days it’s bliss sinking into cooler water and, at night, it’s the most magical place to spend time together. Even though we are now open again for guests, I’ve blocked out lots of time for us to continue to use the cabin and bath during the summer.’

We wear cossies… just in case others can see

Leanne Chandler, 42, lives in Sissinghurst, Kent, with her husband Luke and their two sons

Leanne Chandler, 42, is an interior designer and lives in Sissinghurst, Kent, with husband Luke, 44, who owns a construction business, and their sons Joseph, 16, and Jackson, 12. 

She says:

‘At the end of a long day when the boys are doing their homework or watching TV, there’s nothing my husband and I love more than having a bubble bath ‘date’ in our twin baths, chatting over a glass of wine while we watch our alpacas and goats in the field beyond our garden.

‘Indulgent, even romantic, it’s something special we can do together without leaving home.

‘Our baths were put in when we landscaped the garden two years ago. Luke and I toyed with having an outdoor swimming pool built, but I couldn’t face the idea of more building work after renovating our Tudor farmhouse for my parents to live in, and Victorian stables in the grounds into our own four-bedroom home. Instead, I suggested two outdoor bathtubs.

‘My idea was inspired by weekend breaks we’d enjoyed at the Hotel du Vin in Henley-on-Thames and the Fish Hotel in the Cotswolds, where our rooms had outdoor tubs. We loved their quirkiness and I thought they’d make a fun addition to our home.

‘We paid £6,000 for two tin baths from a company called BC Designs, having researched materials that would be hard-wearing in all weathers.

‘They’re plumbed in with drainage, stainless steel taps, hot and cold water and a shower hose each, and sit on the terrace outside the ground floor master suite so we can fling open the bedroom doors and climb straight in. They’re a doddle to clean, with the same products I use on the bath inside the house.

‘I’ve made a real feature of our outdoor ‘bathroom’ with beautiful navy and white porcelain outdoor floor tiles that are easy to jet wash, and stainless steel planters filled with roses, lavender and herbs.

‘I’m crazy about baths, indoors or out, and all four of us use our backyard tubs, though we do tend to wear our swimsuits just in case other people are around. However, I did say to Luke recently when it was scorching hot that I could jump in a swimming pool! So perhaps we’ll still end up with one after all.’

I love to go moonbathing in my roll top   

Jules McGoldrick, 36, lives in Tong, West Yorkshire with her husband James and their two children. The couple are expecting another baby in the autum

Jules McGoldrick, 36, is a yoga teacher (ryecroftwellness.co.uk) and lives in Tong, West Yorkshire, with her husband James, 41, who works in property development, and their two children aged four and two. They’re expecting another baby in the autumn. 

She says:

‘My children love having bathtime outside because they can make as much mess as they like, unlike indoors! As for me, I use it all the time.

‘We bought our Jacobean hall five years ago and have been renovating ever since. When we started to tackle the garden, my friend suggested an outdoor bathtub. I took her advice last year when I began ‘moonbathing’.

‘Exposing your skin to moonlight is said to regulate menstruation, increase fertility, lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Although moonbathing doesn’t require water, it’s far more indulgent to do it in an outdoor bath.

‘I bought a Victorian cast-iron, roll-top bath online for £100 and restored it myself. I fill it from a hose running from an indoor tap in the kitchen and the water drains on to the garden.

‘I love to soak in the bath surrounded by candles, incense and crystals, especially now I’m 28 weeks pregnant.

‘My favourite moments in the bath are when there’s a full moon and the sky is illuminated. It’s very calming.’

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