What’s so special about clawfoot tubs?

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Whenever I watch design shows or travel shows, the presenters always seem to make such a big deal about clawfoot tubs. Are they really that special? Is there some kind of history to them? Aren’t they just like any other bathtub?

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I’d say there’s not an awful lot special about them. But they’re usually incredibly deep tubs compared to modern tubs. So it would probably be more comfortable to stay in one for a while since it will actually cover your body.

Besides looking attractive, they’re also much deeper and often longer than the average tub. I grew up with one, I wish I had one now!

In addition to being deeper than a modern tub, as mentioned by other commentors, claw foot tubs also tend to be contoured such that it is very comfortable to relax in them. This is opposed to the average modern tub, which is designed around maximum water capacity.

While there are contoured modern tubs, these also tend to have lots of bells a whistles that end up actually making the tub less comfortable to simply sit back and relax in, if you aren’t using the “27 jet whirlpool” functionality, or whatever, at that moment.

We had one that was cast iron covered in porcelain, the water stayed hot for much longer, and it was so easy to clean.

Along with the size and shape factors most others have mentioned. There’s also the fact of not being “installed” in a fixed spot like modern tubs.

With a claw foot tub, you can place it anywhere with sufficient drainage, or the ability to drain it without simply flooding the room it’s in. Having plumbing run to it isn’t always necessary either. You could simply fill the tub from another source using buckets/kettles.

This makes them particularly well suited for what used to be called “loft” or “studio” apartments in big cities. The type of apartments that are in buildings that used to be factories, that sort of thing.

They are extremely comfortable and at least in my experience retain heat really, really well.

Aside from the benefits others have mentioned, two factors come to mind: One, they are antiques. Two, in a word, design. Clawfoot tubs were designed to last, to be comfortable, to be beautiful.

I actually despise these things. In a lot of places you see showers that have a claw foot tub base. And there’s not really a good way to shower curtain them off. You have to usually get two shower curtains and they never quite seal up all the way, so you get water in the back.