At the Mio Buenos Aires hotel, the bathtubs are works of art: Argentine Mario Dasso personally selects only the most beautiful pieces of calden wood (naturally felled by fire) and carves them into luxurious, oversize soaking tubs.
The coolest bathtubs give guests a sense of their own private in-room spa and look nothing like that old shower-tub combo you may have left back home. Nothing screams “I got away from it all” quite like slipping into a bubble bath—in a basin polished to a sparkle by anyone but you—and admiring a gorgeous view.
The glass-bottomed bathtubs at Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives treat you to an intimate look at hawksbill turtles, lolly fish, and—if you’re lucky—dolphins. In California, savvy road-trippers pull over from Highway 1 at Big Sur Cabin, a one-bedroom with a private outdoor courtyard. Twin claw-foot tubs await, surrounded by a wood-burning fire pit, Adirondack chairs, and a redwood picket fence fringed by cacti, ferns, and forget-me-nots.
Some hoteliers have gotten increasingly creative, embracing the trend of bathtubs exposed to the room and even introducing cool bathtubs that appear to levitate above the ground. Yet at the same time, some brands, especially those focused on business travelers, are avoiding the tub altogether. The percentage of tubs planned for new builds in the pipeline for Holiday Inn, part of the InterContinental Hotels group, is between 45 and 55 percent, down from 95 percent 10 years ago.
Even if hotel bathtubs become the exception rather than the rule, the appeal remains deeply and culturally rooted. Tubs date back more than 5,000 years and are historically steeped in ritual—the act of bathing is not only healthy for the body but is considered spiritual by many religions and cultures. If anything, travelers may come to value the hotel bathtub as even more of a coveted amenity than it is today.
Want to make a splash? These high-design tubs are ready for you.