An outdoor bath, featuring an open-air tub and shower, is simultaneously one of life’s simple pleasures and the ultimate luxury. Alfresco baths have been embraced all over the world for this very reason—they give us grounds to leave our cluttered lives behind, take a pause, and immerse ourselves in the peaceful envelope of nature.
If you’ve travelled in a tropical country, there’s a good chance that you’ve experienced the allure of an outdoor bath. Accommodations in warm-weather destinations often include an oversized tub nestled among lush greenery, a shower flanked by a rustic stone wall, and an open-air sink. Birds drop by and butterflies wander through, and you resolve to never leave.
From a repurposed old clawfoot bathtub or a wooden tub like the ofuro, outdoor tubs wind up being the centre of attention in any space. It might have incredible views from a secluded vantage point, or it might be tucked up along the forest’s edge. That’s the beauty of incorporating an outdoor tub in design—there are virtually no constraints as to its placement, especially when not dependent on plumbing.
That being said, the outside bath isn’t only reserved for tropical or dry climates. In our travels we’ve encountered equally-captivating open-air tubs and showers across the Northern hemisphere.
There’s nothing like a soothing soak in a steamy tub in a snowy wonderland, or even the immersive experience of bathing in warm water in the rain. No matter the destination, an outdoor bath can help you feel more connected to the landscape around you—helping you find a greater sense of connection with nature and yourself.
To get inspired for your next soak, here are seven of our favourite styles of outdoor baths:
Outdoor Soaking Tub in the Trees
Found at a traditional Japanese inns called ryokan, these wood or stone bathtubs offer a place to recalibrate in natural surroundings. Often heated by natural hot springs, the purpose of the ryokan outdoor bath is to experience sheer tranquility while absorbing views, whether it's of rolling meadows, birch forests, or private gardens. At Zaborin Ryokan near Niseko, this hot springs soaking tub draws you in with front-row views of the surrounding forested haven.
Rustic Garden Tub
Consider this a backyard sanctuary where you can ensconce yourself at the end of a long day. Imagine this restorative tub as part of an evening ritual: slipping into a candlelit, character-filled bathtub after dinner, and taking in the stars.
Nestle a pair of clawfoot bathtubs under a grove of tall redwood trees to give new meaning to the Japanese art of forest bathing. Sink into these tubs and breathe in the sweet dampness of the forest floor, or light the fire pit to ward off the evening chill. Find these tubs outside the Big Sur cabin at Glen Oaks, Big Sur, CA.
The stark beauty of the desert is another vista to soak in. A minimally-designed shelter allows you to comfortably settle into the striking landscape of Joshua Tree indefinitely. This outdoor bath offers a rain shower, two sinks, and a toilet, discreetly tucked in-between the tub and sinks. Designed by Oak Design Project.
Open Air Shower
Perched on a platform near the edge of the property, this open air shower has sweeping vistas of the mountains. We imagine this as a cold shower paired with a hot tub—Nordic bathing cycle self-care in a haven of peace and quiet.
Minimalist Outdoor Shower
This Swedish summerhouse keeps the act of showering simple while embracing views across the green countryside. An enclosure isn’t required when the next neighbour is a few miles away. A long outdoor shower would be restorative after a walk, or while enjoying the twilight.