Harrogate Turkish Baths

Harrogate, England

The most complete example of Victorian Turkish baths in England, Harrogate Turkish Baths offers its patrons a chance to relax, unwind and absorb the delightful health benefits of contemporary spa rituals in a traditional setting.

Looking for more places like this? Explore more secrets on a CityDays adventure!

Read more

First opened 126 years ago in the charming spa town of Harrogate, the Turkish Baths are an embodiment of the town’s healing legacy that still provides rest and relaxation to those in need. 

Inspired by grand, ancient Moorish bath houses from North Africa, Eurasia and south Europe, Harrogate Turkish Baths contains jaw-dropping interiors including towering Islamic arches, vibrant brickwork, arabesque painted ceilings and terrazzo floors. 

Following meticulous renovations and refurbishment, Harrogate Turkish Baths is a perfect blend of cultures, wellness practices and historical interest, making it an unmissable place to visit in Harrogate.

History of Harrogate Turkish Baths

The Turkish Baths of Harrogate opened its doors in 1897 after three years of building work - but the story that led to its grand opening begins thousands of years before that.

The Romans were the first to popularise communal bathing on a massive scale. Wherever they went, from Britain to North Africa, the Romans brought with them their ingenious bathhouse designs and bathing rituals which remained long after the collapse of the Roman Empire.

In North Africa, during the 7th and 8th centuries, the expanding Arab Muslim rulers adapted the abandoned Roman bathhouses to suit religious purposes, adding ornate geometric designs and transforming the bathing facilities into beautiful, spiritual spaces. These were built all over the Islamic Empire, including Spain, Portugal and Turkey.

The Mosque-Catedral of Córdoba, Spain with signature 'Moorish' Arches, built 988 AD.

The Mosque-Catedral of Córdoba, Spain with signature 'Moorish' Arches, built 988 AD.

In the middle of the 19th century, the Scottish diplomat David Urquhart visited Turkey where he wrote The Pillars of Hercules, a book that heralded Turkish baths for their multiple benefits to health and wider society.

Urquhart campaigned relentlessly for Britain to provide Turkish Baths to the public, and by the 1860s, Turkish Baths began popping up all over England. Meanwhile, in Harrogate, the ailing rich continued to visit the Royal Baths seeking water treatments for a range of illnesses including sciatica, rheumatism and gout. 

When the Montpellier Baths underwent refurbishment in 1894, Turkish Baths were planned as an addition to already available hydrotherapy treatments. Two London-based architects, Baggaley and Bristowe, were in charge of the baths’ original design. 

In 2018, the spa underwent meticulous renovations to modernise the baths but the layout and overall interiors remained true to the original Victorian interpretation of a Turkish bath house. 

Harrogate Turkish Baths: Then and Now

Class and gender divisions were very much a part of Victorian and Edwardian society, so the first visitors to the Harrogate Turkish Baths were mainly wealthy people - and a large portion of them were men.

While this may come as a surprise, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of spa-goers went to places like Harrogate Turkish Baths in search of cures for failing health rather than to relax. 

Men were more likely to be prescribed a visit to the spa as ‘extreme’ temperatures were considered dangerous for women, a belief which endured well into the 20th century. Even as late as 1947, ‘Ladies’ Days’ occurred only on Mondays and Fridays, according to an advertisement in the Harrogate Herald. 

The Harrogate Turkish Baths still have gender-dedicated sessions for spa users: Ladies only sessions occur on Tuesdays from 18.00 -20.30 (6pm-8.30pm) and Gentlemen only sessions are held on Wednesdays from 18.00 -20.30 (6pm-8.30pm).

A Fully-Restored Victorian Masterpiece

Harrogate Turkish Baths is the most historically complete example of a Victorian Turkish bathhouse in Britain. Most of the interiors have remained the same since it opened, with the only major changes being aesthetic (the walls in the Frigidarium were once jade green; they are now a pale cream to allow for more light). 

The first room entered by today’s Harrogate Turkish Baths visitors is a relaxation room called the Frigidarium, which is kept at a comfortable 30°c. 

From there, visitors make their way through the original three ‘hot rooms’ from the Victorian spa, each increasing in temperature: the Tepidarium (45°c), Calidarium (60°c) and the Laconium (70°c). Spa-goers are encouraged to take a dip in the chilly plunge pool (kept at just 19°c) before moving onto the next room to regulate their body temperature.

What Happens at Harrogate Turkish Baths?

If you’re lucky enough to visit Harrogate Turkish Baths in person, your day might vary depending on the day, time and which additional treatments you select. 

Treatments offered by the spa include massages such as Indian massage and hot stone therapy, waxing, manicures and pedicures, facials and mud wraps

If you opt for a treatment, you will get access to additional rooms in the spa where you can enjoy a foot bath or bubble away in a jacuzzi.

Can you tour Harrogate Turkish Baths?

Although it’s hidden away on their website, visitors absolutely can (and should) tour Harrogate Turkish Baths. 

Tours take place on Wednesday mornings at 08.30am, where the baths’ resident historian will take you on a whirlwind tour of the magnificent building and features you might otherwise miss while soaking in relaxation bliss. 

The tour costs just £4 per person and lasts around 45 minutes and is a fascinating sneak peek into a Victorian architectural masterpiece.

What to Wear to Turkish Baths Harrogate

As of February 2023, all visitors to Harrogate Turkish Baths are required to wear swimwear - irrespective of whether they are attending a single-sex or mixed session.

From personal experience, we recommend not wearing a bathing suit that contains metal (they get very hot and it can burn the skin), removing jewellery and any smart watches before entering the spa. 

Lockers at Turkish Baths Harrogate require a deposit of  £1 which you get back at the end of your session. 

Towels are provided and must be used for hygiene purposes in and around the spa facilities.

Discover More of Harrogate

Discover more about Harrogate the best way - by seeking out its hidden secrets, cultural curios and concealed nooks yourself!

By far the most fun and efficient way to learn about the spa town is by taking on CityDays’ original urban exploration game, A Peek Into The Past.

A Peek Into The Past, combines the fun of an outdoor treasure hunt with the historical facts and whimsical trivia of a walking tour. 

This route will have you solving riddles, untangling puzzles and learning more about Harrogate’s fascinating history in a new and interactive way.

Take the stress out of planning your visit to Harrogate and book your adventure today

Not visiting Harrogate this time? Don’t worry, you’ll find us all over the world.


What you need to know

Harrogate Turkish Baths
Parliament St, Harrogate HG1 2WH
53.994405, -1.543728
Tips before you visit