The Roosevelt Baths: Saratoga at its most effervescent

Roosevelt Bath water.

Yes, it's brown. But there's a reason for that.

By Akum Norder

Soaking in a Saratoga mineral bath -- as local traditions go, it's one of the oldest.

Older than the annual state budget circus. Older even than complaining about unshoveled sidewalks.

It's why Saratoga's there, after all. The race course, the casino, the social scene -- all of it developed to give folks something to do while in town to visit the mineral water springs. But of course, the mineral springs' history goes back much farther than that: Native Americans knew about them for centuries.

Not one to miss out on a local tradition, I headed up for a soak at the Roosevelt Baths and Spa.

Roosevelt Baths outside.

Roosevelt: robes and shoes.One of FDR's pet projects from back when he was New York's governor, the bath complex that bears his name was finished under the New Deal. The Roosevelt Baths, which in their modern iteration have been open since 2003, are not too clinical, not too precious. The space balances nicely between the needs of a modern spa and the original details of the building; they kept, for example, the 1930s wall tiles.

In addition to baths, they offer a range of other spa services. But for me, no. Not today.

I changed into a robe and slippers in the locker room and was led to a private bathing room, where a tub of brown water was waiting for me.

Roosevelt Bath one.

Yes, brown. The water looks rusty. My attendant explained that the mineral water comes out of the tap clear, and then darkens on exposure to air, as the iron in the water oxidizes. The mineral water is also quite cold when it comes from the tap; it's mixed with hot, fresh water to put the water at a bathing temperature of around 100 degrees.

The tub was deeper than I expected; the water came up to my neck. It was marvelous. Ahhh, to submerge. In water that doesn't cool off. With no children pounding on the door. Remember the "Calgon, take me away!" commercials? This is better.

This effervescent spring water makes you quite buoyant. I had to work to stay submerged. Little bubbles fizzed on the water's surface as if it was champagne.

I could have brought a magazine to read. Instead, I reclined and practiced doing nothing. It's something I'm not very good at.

The water was hot enough to soften my muscles and bring on a sheen of sweat. I could have done without the soothing music being piped in -- New Age instrumentals usually make me feel murderous -- but not even that could puncture my serenity. I breathed. I trailed my fingers through the water. I was somewhere near a doze when the knock on the door indicated my time was nearly up. The attendant left me a warm towel and retreated.

I emerged from the bath flushed and peaceful -- and, I was surprised to find, with very soft skin.

roosevelt lounge.

roosevelt snacks.I retired to the lounge, where I could easily have fallen asleep on my chaise. The splashing of the water wall even drowned out the music. Tea, coffee, fruit, and water were available (Vermont Spring Water? In a Saratoga spa? That seems wrong somehow); I sipped some coffee before padding down the hall to spend a little time in the steam room.

In all, I was there for two hours. And I left feeling like I'd had a weekend off.

People have made health claims about these waters for centuries. I don't know anything about that. I do know that the bath forced me to lie still and quiet, and just be. And the benefits of that are tremendous.

____

Cost for a 40-minute bath: $25, plus a tip for the attendant. Use of the lounge and the steam room is included.

Find It

Roosevelt Baths and Spa
39 Roosevelt Drive
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Comments

I went here with friends last year. It was definitely enjoyable and worth the cost. You feel like you are slipping back through time. Would be a great trip for Mother's Day or a Girls Day Out.

I went here a couple of years ago for my birthday. Did the mineral bath, a massage, and a seaweed wrap. It was marvelous! The services were excellent and I left feeling incredibly refreshed.

Ooooo. I know what I'm getting some special people for mother's day this year...

I went here with my sister and friend last weekend after reading your review. It was amazing! Very relaxing. I would love to try the bath before a massage the next time I go.

Wow is all I have to say. Recruiting a girls trip for the next one. Thank you FDR!

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

An award-winning tale of Victorian robot sex

Check it out: Local artist/author Jess Fink won the 2017 Ignatz Award for outstanding series for her comic Chester 5000 XYV. The annual Ignatz Awards... (more)

Adult swim at Via Aquarium

This looks like it'd be a different sort of night out: Via Aquarium in Rotterdam is hosting a "Mer-Mixer" evening September 29 that "allows adults... (more)

What's up in the Neighborhood

Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: rude people, restaurants, the Pony Barn, a basket of ingredients, babysitters,... (more)

Autumn Evening in the Garden 2017

The annual Autumn Evening in the Garden event to benefit Capital Roots is September 28 from 6-9 pm at the Hilton Garden Inn in Troy.... (more)

Morning Blend

Cuomo blasts new Obamacare repeal effort Andrew Cuomo voiced opposition on Tuesday to the latest Republican effort to repeal Obamacare and said if there... (more)

Recent Comments

Seems like they've put together realistic plans, though I wonder whether the proximity to the ESP ramps would be a deterrent to finding a residential developer. I'd really like to see that Trailways Building kept. We have so few century buildings in Albany that I'd really we rather keep them when we can. And this building is not at all shy about advertising its era. E-Comm 6, however...well, I won't cry if it comes down.

If you want to provide direct feedback on that Capital District Gondola idea, here's your chance

...has 13 comments, most recently from Brianna

Quick-scan primary election results 2017: Sheehan wins Albany Democratic mayoral primary

...has 8 comments, most recently from Pine Hills

Good open mic nights?

...has 19 comments, most recently from NEIL

Albany's mayor gets selected by just a small slice of the city's population

...has 3 comments, most recently from stan

Cereal sundae from Bumpy's Polar Freeze

...has 5 comments, most recently from ACW