9 Ways to Recreate the Spa Experience in Your Bathroom

by Lauren Leazenby
Woman Hand Holding Wineglass In Bathtub

Picture yourself in your calmest state. You’re in a spa, aren’t you? You can’t help but equate serenity with plush massage tables, hot stones, a steamy sauna and perhaps a flute of champagne or two. What you wouldn’t give to be there now ...

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For some of us, such a visit to the spa isn’t the tranquil experience it used to be. So what do you do when going to the spa to relax, in itself, is a stress-inducing proposition? Why, you bring the spa to you, of course.

Light the lavender candles, run a bath and read on to learn how to elevate your regular ol’ bathroom to a space for maximum relaxation. Here are nine ways to recreate the spa experience right in the comfort of your own home:

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1. Clean Your Bathroom

Before you can start pampering yourself, you’re going to need to make sure your “spa” is up to code. There’s nothing calming about soap scum and hard water stains, so use a solution of vinegar and water to descale your bath and tile. (Here’s our comprehensive guide if you want to deep-clean the whole bathroom before you settle in.) If your spa experience will be taking place in a high-traffic bathroom, you’ll probably want to disinfect the space, as well.

2. Upgrades

A few simple additions can transform your boring bathroom into the oasis you want it to be. Try these:

Luxe Linens

You’re supposed to replace your towels every two years, but by that amount of time, even high-quality towels can start to feel scratchy against your skin. No need to splurge on spa-quality fluffiness for your full set; invest in one or two plush bath and hand towels, and reserve them for your use only.

Wood Accents

Introduce natural wood into your bathroom for an earthy feel. Adding wood tones in an otherwise sterile, white environment can soften and warm your space — but do so with caution. Not all woods will survive the humidity. Look for cedar, teak and bamboo, which are relatively water-resistant. You can bring wood into the bathroom in small ways, like adding a bath-side stool for your products and candles, or getting a bamboo bath caddy, or swapping your fabric bathmat for a teak one.

Dimmer Switches

Set the mood. Putting a dimmer switch in the bathroom can give you low light when you want to light a few candles, but you don’t want to stumble around in the dark. This update might require an electrician. Or, if you’re feeling handy, you can install a dimmer switch yourself.

3. Hot Towels

The best spas have hot towels aplenty — for your face, hands and feet. And while your house may not be equipped with a towel-warming cabinet, you can add this element to your at-home spa routine with a little DIY.

Start with a dry washcloth or hand towel and add essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus. Place the towel in the sink or a bowl and pour boiling water over it. You can also dampen it and nuke it in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until it’s warm. Wait until it has cooled to a comfortable temperature and enjoy.

You may want a warm towel for after your bath or shower, too. Invest in a freestanding towel warmer like this one, or toss your towels in the dryer so they’re toasty by the time you’ve finished with your spa routine.

beauty treatment items for spa procedures on white wooden table  massage stones, essential oils and sea salt  copy space

4. Soothing Scents

Try aromatherapy. Smelling essential oils is said to have therapeutic effects, including easing stress and pain relief. You can purchase essential oils for use topically or in diffusers, but most of these scents are common in other home and cosmetic products. Look for these aromas in bath salts and soaks, soaps, lotions, candles and more:

Bergamot: The oil of bergamot oranges may relieve anxiety and improve your mood. Healthline recommends applying a few drops to a washcloth or rag and inhaling the scent.

Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus leaves contain oil that may reduce stress and relieve pain when inhaled. Tie a few branches of fresh or dried eucalyptus behind your showerhead. Let the steam from your shower activate the oils to experience these benefits.

Lavender: Lavender oil can alleviate stress and anxiety. It’s also a known sleep aid.

Ylang-ylang: The scent of the ylang-ylang flower is a top note in designer perfumes. Used in aromatherapy, it may lower blood pressure and boost your mood.

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5. Add Some Green

Bring a little nature into the space with real (or fake!) houseplants. Caring for plants can reduce stress, and some types of plants can purify the air, so says Healthline. Humidity-loving ferns and tropical orchids will grow well in your bathroom. According to The Spruce, these varieties will tolerate or thrive in high-humidity and low-light conditions:

  • Bamboo
  • Bromeliad
  • Cast-iron plant
  • Philodendron
  • Pothos
  • Snake plant

If you’re not ready to be a plant parent, a vase of cut flowers or greenery will do the trick.

6. Shower Power

Building a sauna or steam room at home is a little more involved than the average project, and the sort of frustration that can come with DIY endeavors is precisely what we’re trying to avoid, here. You can recreate the benefits of a sauna in your shower. According to Medical News Today, both hot and cold showers come with a wide range of positive health effects, especially when you switch back and forth between them. Start with a hot shower, which can reduce muscle soreness, increase blood flow and improve sleep. Follow up with a short cold shower to decrease inflammation and lower levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone.”

detail shot of hansgrohe rain shower head

7. Rain Showerhead

Showering in the rain: Relaxing in theory, kind of gross in practice.

Showering under a rainfall showerhead: Relaxing all around.

Rainfall showerheads are larger than your standard showerhead and have hundreds of holes for a steadier flow. Instead of a jet of high-pressure water in your face, you get a lower pressure stream that’ll make you feel like you’re dancing in the rain. Ceiling-mounted configurations may require some assistance from a plumber, but you can easily swap out your old wall-mounted model yourself.

8. Mood Music

Recreating the spa experience at home is all about feeding the senses, so set the theme with the right tunes. If you close your eyes and it sounds like you’re in a spa, you might start to believe you really are. Set up a waterproof speaker or keep your phone a safe distance from the water. You can find the same playlists spas use — like this one — on Spotify or YouTube. Or, go for whatever sounds put you at peace: white noise, classical music or true-crime podcasts.

9. Go Hands-Free

What can reduce stress? Waving a magic wand and watching your troubles disappear. OK, a smart speaker or virtual assistant can’t exactly do that, but you can command it to perform a select few tasks, all while sitting in the bathtub. Employ your Amazon Echo or Google Home as your digital butler. Depending on the integrations you have, you can ask it to crank up the temperature of the smart water heater for a hotter bath, change the song, dim the lights and even order delivery — all without having to dry your hands.

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