I am very good at taking baths. Haters will say this is not a real skill, but all it takes is one bad bath to appreciate the little details that make a bath great. It’s more than hot water. It’s more than bubbles. A truly great bath takes preparation, planning, and at least two beverages.
Taking a bath is not about getting clean—that’s what showers are for. Baths are about calming your…
The video you see above is just one example of a good bath. Not every good bath is the same, but most of them follow the same basic template, and have one item from each of the following categories:
Some sort of water modifier
Baths are not about getting clean—they are about relaxation. And fragrant, silky and/or bubbly water is more relaxing than plain, scent-free water. Dr. Teal’s makes my favorite bubbly bath. The scents are noticeable but not overwhelming or overly perfumed, and a couple of glugs is enough for a mountain of bubbles. I also enjoy a Lush bath bomb or bubble bar, even though they refuse to keep my favorites (Lord of Misrule and Pop in the Bath) in stock.
The drink you see in the video is a pineapple and Chartreuse cocktail that turned into a slush because I left it in the freezer, and it fucking ruled. I also enjoy a chilled light red or crisp white wine (kept in an ice bucket on the floor beside the tub), but literally any alcoholic beverage will do.
I do not think of syrupy, herbal liqueurs as “summery,” but that doesn’t stop me from drinking them
I know I “joke” that water is “not for me” but a large drinking vessel full of cold water is actually something you want if you’re taking a very hot bath, particularly if your alcoholic beverage is big, bold red wine. If you hate plain water, infuse a jug with some sliced cucumber, citrus, or ginger in for “spa water,” which has a “fancy hotel lobby” vibe. Diet Coke is another obvious favorite, but unsweetened iced tea and La Croix make also regular appearances.
As you can see above, I do love my candles, particularly tall, dramatic candles that fit in my bath tray candle holder, but candles are not the only way you can create a mood. Have you experienced total darkness? That’s pretty fun. Just turn out all the lights and don’t look at your phone. You can also take advantage of natural light. If your bathroom has a window, try to time your bath so it coincides with golden hour.
Have you experienced total darkness? That’s pretty fun.
I have a fairly long bath-time playlist, but the absolute perfect bath soundtrack is Avalon by Roxy Music (“Mother of Pearl” on repeat also works). If you should—somehow, some way—tire of the smooth vocal styling of Bryan Ferry, my isolation playlist and whatever this is work pretty well, though neither are as relaxing or as perfect as Avalon by Roxy Music.
A hand towel
It’s a must. No matter what you are doing—reading, scrolling through your phone, listening to music or watching YouTube on your computer—you need something to dry your hands with before touching your book, phone, or computer. Sometimes I even supplement the hand towel with a wash cloth, just in case I need to wipe my face.
Optional: something to smoke
It’s an unfortunate truth that smoking in the tub absolutely rules. It’s also unfortunate that I like cloves, and I need you all to appreciate how vulnerable I’m being by sharing this with you. You, of course, do not have to smoke cloves. You can smoke real cigarettes, or vape, or smoke a joint, or—and this is the healthiest option—not smoke anything at all. (Don’t start smoking just so you can smoke in the tub, but if you’re going to smoke anyway, the tub is the best place to do it.)
Originally published August 2020 and updated March 15, 2021 to reflect current style guidelines.