The Bathroom’s History from Ancient times to Modern Luxury

By Jo Phillips

Our bathroom may not be the room we spend the most time in but now an inside bathroom and toilet would be considered essential for keeping clean, for hygiene for personal care yet the idea of a place for rest recuperation and even vanity goes back to the Greek and Roman days. Now of course we consider it one of the best places to chill out. Find out more in The Bathroom’s History from Ancient times to Modern Luxury

A room that is devoted to bathing and personal care it seems goes back to the most ancient of civilisation. There is much evidence of sophisticated bathing facilities dating back to 2000 B.C.

Hittite houses in Anatolia (c. 1400 B.C.) contained paved washrooms with clay baths. The Greek cities of Pylos and Tiryns had bathrooms with water supply and drainage systems, and later Greek vase paintings indicate that the Greeks interestingly used showers. Bathhouses in India, common in palaces, monasteries, and some wealthy homes as early as 200 B.C., contained such items as steam rooms, sitting areas, and swimming pools.

Many of us know that the Romans mastered the art of the bath. As early as the 3rd century B.C., elaborate baths were being included in the villas and townhouses of wealthy Romans.

Remains of the Baths of Trajan, Rome by By Rabax63 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

With separate rooms for damp and dry heat and warm and cold baths, the buildings were heated with hypocausts, and furnaces with flues extending through the floors and walls of the building. The furnaces also heated boilers that supplied hot water. The public baths, or thermae, of imperial Rome, expanded on the facilities of the smaller private baths and necessitated the construction of reservoirs and aqueducts to supply the enormous quantities of water needed.

These bathing rituals, however, were seen in the early Middle Ages, as part of a hedonistic lifestyle, not really, the idea of cleanliness is next to Godliness or that it was a good and healthy practice to stay clean. Staying dirty was seen as a good religious practice. In fact, many of the early Christians took an entirely different viewpoint than the Romans about the body, regarding it as a place of sin to be conquered by the spirit.

Dirt and disregard for excessive personal hygiene were regarded as appropriate responses to a sinful world, while bathing and personal luxury were regarded as excessively or even sinfully indulgent.

But as the plagues that periodically ravaged Europe during the Middle Ages demonstrated, personal hygiene began to play a practical as well as a spiritual role. Centralised bathing facilities continued to exist in Europe with many monasteries having fairly sophisticated systems to supply, distribute, and carry away water.

It was of course the rich who benefited first. Medieval castles and palaces generally incorporated a system of water supply and drainage, even if the sewage reservoir did happen to be the castle’s moat. Henry III’s 1217-1272 palace at Westminster had a bathhouse with hot and cold running water.

Of course, other cultures outside the Western European tradition continued to regard bathing and personal hygiene as acceptable and culturally significant activities. Hammams, or public baths, have long been a fixture in Islamic society. And the Japanese have always regarded a long soak in a hot tub as both a ritual and cleansing activity.

It was religious beliefs that kept the idea of washing far from an acceptable practice for many centuries. But by the middle of the 19th century, there was a permanent tub in the White House, and bathing had evolved for many into a Saturday night ritual, whether they felt they needed it or not. So then began the journey towards indoor plumbing for all.

As much as bathrooms evolved as a response to fundamental needs for personal hygiene, they were also an expression of available technology and cultural standards. Also, they would initially be a representation of wealth.

Between 1875 and 1925 became the period when indoor plumbing began to be widely available and when it became almost universal alongside our attitudes toward privacy and modesty that changed significantly.

Illustration of a bathroom from the early 20th century

What were once communal and family activities have become very personal and private activities. we have gone all the way from shared public baths to now homes with often more than one bathroom. The room itself has become in many ways a sanctuary, a place to rest and revive. A place to soothe after a long day or get going first thing.

Now we spend time and money to stay in this room we indulge in lotions and potions to aid our lives. From body lotions to sparkling shower gels the world of bathing is now a time for utter indulgence, all be it, usually on our own.

The French luxury fragrance and homewares brand Diptyque unveils its first collection dedicated to the bathroom. This new range celebrates the art of exalting the every day, inviting us to discover a refuge where time is suspended.

Core is the biscuit porcelain, a signature material for the Maison, and Diptyque has joined forces with Manufacture de Couleuvre. This company is dedicated to preserving traditional expertise in the arts of porcelain and the relief pattern.

The oval signature, which has symbolised the Maison since its creation, comes to life in a multiplicity of bewitching shapes and sizes. Timeless objects in porcelain such as Soap Holders and Soap Trays, Tumblers or Small and Large Canisters, each with its own lid, demonstrate the sophistication of this iconic shape. The interlinked oval curves of the Trays were designed to hold hand wash and lotion containers, while also offering an elegant receptacle for your jewellery.

As well as bathroom objects, the collection also includes unique items created to add a touch of poetry to your indoor environment. The Pyramide Candle Holder, painstakingly hand-crafted in a workshop of Italian artisan glassmakers, is an eye-catching pyramid of light. Designed to hold a classic candle, it harbours delicate olfactory pleasures while bathing the room in gentle, soothing radiance.

Oh and if you love to be surrounded by divine scent what about Diptyque’s new Odour Removing Interior Room Spray, newly launched as part of the brand’s La Droguerie collection?

A new interior scent spray formulated and designed has been added to this collection. There to remove unwanted smells and diffuse the air with delicious notes of basil, mint, and tomato leaves.

The entire La Droguerie collection follows in the fragrant tradition of the Maison’s perfumed creations: an invitation to care for your home that blends beauty with utility and sensual enjoyment. The new arrival joins a collection that already includes a dishwashing liquid, a multi-surface cleaner, a perfumed ceramic, a lotion for leather and wood care, an odour-removing candle, and a brush for dishes. A fine assortment of creations conceived to beautify everyday life.

Functional, aesthetically appealing pieces are created to become accomplices to our desires, reminding us to take a little time for ourselves and enjoy the present moment. A celebration of the art of living à la française, offering a winning combination of versatility and classic, enduring elegance. A reminder also that the art of bathing has come a long way.

There’s more here than a mere collection of objects, things to transform each instant of your daily bathroom ritual into a moment of refinement.

The Collection is available in Diptyque boutiques and online from 18 January 2024 at

If you enjoyed reading The Bathroom’s History from Ancient times to Modern Luxury why not read Indefensible; A Barrister’s Descent Life Turned into Nightmare

.Cent Magazine London, Be Inspired; Get Involved

Verified by MonsterInsights