A day in Bath, England
A city steeped in history and brimming with both natural and man-made beauty, it’s little wonder the City of Bath finds itself one of UNESCO’s world heritage cities.
Founded in the 1st century AD by the Romans, its natural hot springs led to its development as a spa town. It’s those same thermal waters that continue to draw visitors to this stunning Georgian city today.
Nevertheless, there’s more than one way to spend a day in Bath. You can pop into the Jane Austen Centre where you’ll learn all about the famed English novelist. Step inside the Roman Baths Museum and wander around its 2,000 year old ruins. Head next door to the lavishly decorated Pump Room for afternoon tea or make your way to the modern day thermal baths at Thermae Bath Spa for some rest and relaxation.
A few weekends ago, I made my first trip to Bath. Arriving from London Paddington station at 12.00pm and leaving Bath at 7.45pm, I had only eight hours to spend in this transfixing city. My day trip essentials were clearly laid out: lots of tasty food, a good dose of history and an extra large helping of relaxation.
If you find yourself planning a day trip to Bath, keep these options in mind.
First stop, lunch.
Start your day in Bath with a hearty lunch at The Raven of Bath, where traditional British pies are served up with creamy mash and ale-based gravy. Located down a quiet cobbled street, this traditional Old English pub sits within two Georgian townhouses right in the heart of Bath. Step inside, head up the narrow staircase and take a table on the second floor. This bright and airy pub provides the perfect setting to take in the beauty of Bath, all while enjoying a moreish pie washed down with a pint of ale.
The Roman Bath Museum.
Nestled between the Georgian building housing The Pump Room restaurant and a medieval abbey are the captivating Ancient Roman Baths, which date back to the 1st century AD. Head through to the museum visitor desk, pay the entrance fee (£16.50 for an adult ticket), pick up your free audio guide handset and start exploring. Immediately, you’ll walk out into a corridor overlooking the Great Bath, located six metres below street level. A wraparound terrace allows you to walk the perimeters of the pool, viewing it from above at all angles.
Back inside the main building, you can learn more about the historical site from the museum’s expansive collection of artefacts. Models of the original buildings, a collection of locally found Roman and Celtic items (including the famed Bath curse tablets) and Roman bathing and leisure facilities are all available for visitors to walk through.
From its ancient origins to its rebirth in the 17th century, the exhibitions covers the entire history of this ancient site, so be sure to give yourself ample time to explore. While the main audio guide is typically informative and detailed, take advantage of the more lighthearted and quirky guide narrated by famed travel writer, Bill Bryson.
Thermae Bath Spa.
After two hours learning about the Ancient Roman Baths, it’s time for you to experience them for yourself. Head to the modern day spa centre at the Thermae Bath Spa. Just a few minutes walk from the museum, the spa has two main sites: The New Royal Bath and The Cross Bath. While The Cross Bath is an intimate, open-air thermal bath with capacity of up to 10 people, The New Royal Bath is an expansive spa facility operating over several floors and culminating in a breathtaking rooftop pool.
Entrance to The New Royal Bath costs £36 Monday to Friday, or £40 at the weekend, and includes access to the open-air rooftop pool, the Minerva whirlpool and the not-to-be-missed Wellness Suite, for up to two hours. While wrapped up in your fluffy robe, head straight to the open air pool on the rooftop and take in views of the surrounding hills and watch as the sun begins to set, amplifying the honey-hue of the Georgian architecture.
After sunset, head down to the six themed spa rooms of the Wellness Suite. There you’ll find the Roman and Georgian steam rooms, the Infrared room, Celestial relaxation room, the Ice chamber and the exhilarating Experience Showers; each room is fitted to its theme and caters a new level of relaxation. Complete your day at Thermae Bath Spa with a dip in the Minerva pool, the largest of the thermal baths. An additional 15 minutes is added to the end of each spa session to allow for time in the change rooms, so make the most of your two hours enjoying the spa facilities.
Last stop, dinner.
After two hours at Thermae Bath Spa, dinner will certainly be on the mind. Just ahead of The Raven of Bath, you’ll find Firehouse Rotisserie. Serving up Californian fusion, the Firehouse Rotisserie menu features succulent free range rotisserie chickens, gourmet pizzas, towering burgers and a variety of salads, including a delicious grilled halloumi salad with asparagus and green beans, topped off with crunchy chickpeas. An atmospheric restaurant with the friendliest waitstaff, dinner at Firehouse Rotisserie is the perfect way to end to an already excellent day in Bath.
Whether you spend your day bouncing between quaint cafes and relaxing thermal waters or wandering through Bath’s Georgian-era landmarks, you’re sure to fall deeply in love with this picturesque UNESCO World Heritage city.
Planning your day trip in Bath
You can take a train from London Paddington station to Bath station. The journey takes 90 minutes. Book early and you could find return tickets for just £15!
You don’t need to book the Roman Bath Museum or the Thermae Bath Spa, but at the weekend queues to enter can be very long. Visit Bath during the weekdays if you can. I visited on a Friday and experienced no queues at all.
If you would rather visit the Cross Bath (not the New Royal Bath), you can book but you'll need to wait until 48 hours before your expected arrival.