The Glory of Bath
MADAME: BATHE IN THE GLORY OF BATH – ENGLAND
Set in the rolling Mendip Hills in the west of the UK, just 2hrs from London, sits the Roman town of Bath. Legend has it that the son of King Bladud passed through the wet bog marshland and upon return to his father his leprosy was cured. He told his father that it was a magical place and therefore essential to establish a settlement in the area…. Aquae Sulis was born, the Roman town that became today’s City of Bath-Upon-Avon!
This ancient Roman city with a stunning Abbey and original Roman Baths at its centre, is a delightful place to visit. With some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the modern world, it is no surprise that Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In Georgian times the city truly thrived and the rich yellow stone buildings are superb examples of neo-classical Palladian architecture that can be admired everywhere.
We stayed at the boutique Indigo Bath Hotel, set in several converted Georgian terraced townhouses. It is one of the contemporary collection of hotels from the InterContinental Hotel Group. With a quirky blend of modern décor and facilities mixed seamlessly and elegantly with the history of the historic Grade I listed buildings it occupies, the hotel is located centrally perfect to explore the wonderful city.
The Indigo Bath welcomed us with a warm and friendly smile together with lots of advice on what to see and where to eat. Our ‘architectural’ themed room was spacious and comfy with a stunning bathroom including a pedestal bath as well as a rainforest shower.
The hotel bar offers local ciders and gins and transformed into the breakfast room serving a broad array of breakfast choices. The Elder restaurant focuses on local sustainable wild food and game (too meaty for us) So we ventured out for pizza!
Bath has many interesting things to see and places to go, but as a Spa town, anyone discovering the city must try its magical waters. With 3 natural spa water sources; the Kings Spring, the Hetling Spring and the Cross Spring, combined, these waters deliver over 1 million litres of water every day.
At the Thermae Bath Spa, we found a heaven of tranquillity in the heart of the city that uses the naturally warm waters from deep within the earth to make a modern spa experience set in both modern and restored 18th century buildings, helping to bring the history of the spa alive.
The highlight is the outside rooftop pool. With a bathing temperature of approx 34ºC (93º F), the water soothes your body as well as invigorates in the Jacuzzi seats or pummels under the water spout. It is hard to pull yourself away from the view of the hills on the horizon and the multitude of rooftops all around you, but with more treatments on offer as part of your experience, head to the Minerva Pool located in the semi-basement.
Again we bathed in the spa water containing over 42 naturally occurring minerals that has risen from 2kms beneath the earth. In fact the water at source is too hot to swim in at 45 ºC (113 º F) and is cooled before you can step into this blanket of warm therapeutic water.
Photos curtesy of Thermae Bath Spa
The Wellness Suite offers a range of state-of-the-art spa experiences; Hot and Cold showers; a ‘Minerva’ themed steam room, an elegant Georgian Garden themed steam room, a dry Infra-Red Sauna, an ice chamber, and purpose-built Massage Suite and a Celestial Relaxation Room complete with twinkling lights. The later was created to honour astronomer William Herschel who lived in Bath and discovered the planet Uranus. (There is the Herschel Museum of Astronomy in Bath to visit too!)
Daily spa sessions are available to the public, but for a special event, the Cross Bath is a unique, intimate open air venue for small groups of up to 10 people where the spring source can be seen flowing out of the ground.
After a relaxing morning, there is nothing better than to stroll around Baths many narrow pretty streets with unique boutique shops with enticing windows and to try the many wonderful local cafes and restaurants.
For book lovers there are many bookshops both news and second hand. Dont miss a the chance to loose yourself in the Topping & Co Bookseller located in the magnificent 'Friends Meeting House'.
Be sure to include a walk around the stunning Circle, a circle of Georgian town houses with wrought iron railings allowing you a glimpse of a time gone by. Further on, the sweeping Royal Crescent is an impressive arc of Georgian townhouses with a vast lush green in-front of them, allowing you to truly appreciate the grandeur of the architecture.
Walking back into town along Gravel Walk, we came across a small open doorway leading into a ‘secret’ garden. What we found was a delightfully recreated typical Victorian garden, the layout dating back to the original design from 1770, filled with typical English plants and a decorative hedge at its centre.
Any photo you would have seen of Bath will almost certainly include the beautiful Pulteney Bridge built in 1769 that crosses the River Avon. The bridge incorporates small shops and places to eat many with views across the weir below.
There are a multitude of interesting museums to visit in Bath, but we choose two; the Roman Baths and the Fashion Museum. Others include The Museum of East Asian Art, The Bath Postal Museum, The Jane Austen Centre and the Herschel Museum of Astronomy.
The Roman Bath Museum:
The Roman Baths and the Temple of Sulis Minerva date back to the 4th century AD, when it was a therapeutic centre for hundreds of visitors.
Today, this unique museum is a fascinating insight into ancient engineering as well as the importance of the hot spring waters to Bath. The King’s Spring which you can see naturally flowing out of the ground, supplies the Roman Baths with 1,170,000 litres of water each day at a hot 46°C. It feeds the grand King’s Bath which was built in the 12th century AD. In the past it has been used as a therapy pool, but is now the central feature of this stunning example of Roman architecture and the museum.
With many ancient roman artefacts on display, the museum is well laid out and very interesting. Also on display is one of the largest hoards of Roman coins ever found.
The 17,577 silver coins date from 32BC to 275AD and were found in 8 leather bags, buried in a Roman building close to the Baths.
Don’t forget to stop off and taste the spring water from source (cooled a bit, but still quite warm)!
The Fashion Museum
The Fashion Museum Bath was originally the Museum of Costume and has been in its current home of the Assembly Rooms since it opened in 1963. It is home to a world-class collection of both historic and fascinating historic dress.
Although small is packs a punch with a history of Fashion in 100 objects. These dates back to the 1600’s to present day. Some key pieces are marked moments in time some with a personal story. There is also a room where you can try on outfits and era gone by! Accessories and shoes are also part of the amazing collection also spanning from the 1700 to modern day Nike trainers!
You definitely do not have to be into fashion to enjoy this experience.
With a wide variety of places to eat and drink, one place unique to Bath is its famous tea house of Sally Lunn. Not only is this one of the oldest houses in Bath but its kitchen museum shows the actual kitchen used by the legendary baker Sally Lunn who created the first Bath Bunn. You can enjoy the Sally Lunn Bunn warm with either sweet or savoury toppings in the house itself!
Bath is a magical city and unique in England. Accessible in, it should be on everyone’s list of place and explore, discover and ultimately enjoy when visiting the UK.
Bath is a unique experience and the only place in the UK where you can bathe in natural mineral-enriched thermal spring waters. …Go on, make a splash!
Bath is often known as mini Italy in the UK (or at least I would describe it like that). Its cobbled streets, architectural buildings and we must not forget the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey, make it such a historical and beautiful place to visit.
Mixing this history with the modern, makes the Hotel Indigo the best place to stay in Bath. It is less than a 10 minute walk from the centre. The room we stayed in was lovely; it was very clean, the bathroom was spacious, the bed was comfy and the drinks in the mini fridge were complementary.
For breakfast there was a buffet with pastries, toast, bagels, cereal etc. as well as options for cooked breakfast. It was well presented and a great way to start your day.
On our first day before check-in at 3:00pm, we explored a bit of Bath. We first went to Pulteney Bridge, which is a famous bridge in Bath with a popular cafe on the bridge itself.
As it was lunchtime we found a great bagel place, which you’ve guessed, served a variety of bagel sandwiches. If you are a bagel lover like me, then it is definitely the place to go. After our wholesome lunch, we continued to make our way to what is known as the Circus, because it is literally a ring of houses - it is quite impressive.
A little walk from there we came to the Royal Crescent, which was even more impressive, with a lovely public garden that on a warm summer's day would be great to sunbathe and have a picnic on.
As we made our way back into town we followed a path which ran along the back of people’s houses and gardens.Here we spotted a little Georgian Garden that was open to the public but could be easily missed. The best way I could describe it is that it felt like something out of a fairytale.
The next morning, we made our way to the Thermae Bath Spa - oh how lovely that was! So relaxing and peaceful, we could have spent the whole day there. We experienced the open-air rooftop pool which I have to admit would have been better if it was sunny but I still enjoyed it.
We then went to their indoor pool which was equally relaxing; in a way it feels like the water is massaging you. The water used in the Thermae Bath Spa is natural mineral water that comes directly from 3 springs in the city and supplies the Bath Spa and Roman Baths. This historical water is located approximately 2km below the earth’s surface, where it is naturally heated - too hot for people to bathe in and therefore in order to use the water, it is cooled down through the pipes before being used publicly. I have to say the history of Bath water and the fact that we get to use it and it is natural is pretty cool - very different from a normal swimming pool!
The spa of course also has an infrared heat room that heats you from the inside out, two types of wet rooms/saunas, a galaxy room which just transfixes you and an ice chamber. My favourite was the infrared room. On top of all this, you can have massages and treatments.
A little thing that I noticed and which I thought was very handy was little water stations outside the rooms, as being in the warm heat can make you quite thirsty. I would highly recommend experiencing the Thermae Bath Spa when you visit Bath.
After our relaxing morning, we explored more of the city. We headed to a bookshop which was vast! With floor to ceiling bookcases; there were even ladders to use to reach the higher books. If you are a bookworm then I'm sure you could have spent the whole day there.
After a Cornish Pasty lunch, we entered the Roman Baths Museum. You don’t see the famous Baths straight away, as you travel through the ‘museum’ section first, that explains the history of the Baths including the Romans and the archaeologists who discovered the baths. If you enjoy learning about history (in detail) then it’s the place for you.
For me, I just wanted to see the baths and just seeing them was indeed worth it. I’m not really interested in the detailed history, just a short summary is fine. One thing I would suggest is going on a sunny day because the colours and architecture of the building really comes out and you appreciate it more.
On our last day, we visited the Fashion Museum, which I thought was rather interesting. The way in which fashion has changed and evolved over the centuries is amazing, especially for women. It was a small exhibition but half way through the tour, you came to a room where you could try on old-fashioned clothes which was fun. Of course there was the history of the clothes but also fun facts especially when it came to the recent, modern era of fashion.
Before we headed home, we explored a little more of the town and its shops and made a pit stop to Sally Lunn’s Bunn which is a famous baked good in Bath (where it originated) - some say its a bread, others say it's like a brioche and sweet but there is no definite answer it’s just what you think! I say it's more like a brioche bun. Anyway, you could sit down and order a bun for lunch or breakfast but you could also just take away the bunn, which we did. Let me just point out that the buns are not your regular size; they are huge and you only need to eat one side of the bun. I would recommend trying it; I liked it with butter and jam or could make it savoury with cream cheese and smoked salmon if you like, whatever you fancy!
With that, our visit to Bath ended; I thoroughly enjoyed every moment and would definately visit again as it is a perfect place for a long weekend getaway and to relax.