In “High-Low” we profile the most indulgent versions of the most pedestrian objects. Today: the most expensive and luxurious bathtubs your naked eye—make that body—has ever seen.
Ever since the first copper plumbing was installed in the Indus River Valley some 5,300 years ago, people have been looking for newer and more soothing ways to get clean. Yet from the yuya, the bathhouse in old Buddhist temples, to ancient Greek alabaster tubs, somehow we ended up with two classes of bathtub: the old-fashioned, porcelain claw foot, or the quick-fix, drop-in acrylic tub. So 20th century.
Luckily, today we live in the Golden Age of Soaking. You can get a bathtub made out of virtually anything that can hold water (ever wanted a tub chiseled from a gigantic chunk of amethyst?) and in virtually any size and shape your heart could desire.
All that’s required to find the tub of your dreams is your imagination—and lots of money.
Hoesch Water Lounge
Think of it as a wet Barcalounger, or the aquarian equivalent of the Eames lounge chair. The Water Lounge, by the German company Hoesch, not only cleans you, it also “breaks down borders, traditions and conventions.” It does so with a “transparent glass cube” and a “gentle air massage,” all of which should come in handy when it’s time to wash the dog. Price: Around $43,000.
Signature Hardware Nubian Sandstone Tub
Have you ever wondered how pharaohs in ancient Egypt bathed? (Who hasn’t?) Any self-respecting pharaoh would have loved a nice, long soak in a hand-carved tub made of Nubian sandstone with “soothing layers of ginger, tan, and gray hues.” Price: Starting at $9,620.95.
Le Cob Infinity Tub
Perhaps you want to lounge more than you want to bathe—but you still feel the need to be wet. Try this guy, which has a continuous water flow, à la infinity pool, and a bed of pebbles below. Your feet may get a little cold—or you may drown, depending on your height. Price: $34,000.
Baldi Rock Crystal
If you want to bathe like a Bond villain, you’ll definitely want a tub carved out of a semiprecious crystal. Maybe amethyst? How about malachite? “The astonishing three-person bath was carved out of a single block of rock crystal found in the Amazonian rainforest, weighing approx. 10,000 kg,” the description says. Price: Around $1 million.
WS Bath Collections Madera M2
The idea of taking a bath in a gigantic wooden salad bowl sounds ridiculous until the moment you actually see one—then you realize that you can’t live without it. The Madera M2 is a freestanding carved marvel available in custom sizes in your choice of larch, beech, mahogany, cedar, walnut, cherry, wedge, or teak in a variety of finishes. Fifty-gallon drum of raspberry vinaigrette sold separately. Price: $43,200.
You could take a soak in an everyday tub, or you could have something akin to a spiritual experience in a gigantic hanging glass hamster ball. The Bathsphere by designer Alexander Zhukovsky allows bathers to “simulate rain, change the temperature inside the ball, humidity, light, sounds and even smells” as they explore the “membrane between the bustle of the modern world and the calmness of a home” that is the modern bathroom. Price: Nobody yet knows.
Can’t decide between a shower or a bathtub? Then you just might need
a Shub the Rexa Unico collection. A bathtub is sunk into the floor and comes with wooden slats that slide over it to turn it into the floor of a shower. if that one’s too sleek and high-concept, there’s also the Unico Egg, which has “frontal open storages that you can use like bookshelf.” Price: Contact the company for details.
You wouldn’t want to have to step over the ledge of your bathtub now, would you? And you wouldn’t want to take a bath alone. Luckily you can use Sorgente as “a traditional bath or always full and ready for use, just like a swimming pool.” Don’t worry, it has a filter. It comes with natural stone coverings in colors such as slate or cognac, and a shell of white or pearl gray. Price: Contact the company for details—you’ll most likely need to get one direct from Italy.