A day in Bath, England
A city steeped in history and brimming with natural and manmade beauty, it’s little wonder the City of Bath is one of just a few UNESCO World heritage cities in the world.
Founded in the 1st century AD by the Romans, its natural hot springs led to its development as a spa town. Even today, it’s those same thermal waters that continue to draw visitors to this stunning Georgian city.
Still, 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 the 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 almost eight hours to spend in this transfixing city. My day trip essentials were clearly laid out: I sought 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, the 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. With wide windows fitted into the two external walls, the 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.
Situated between the Georgian building housing The Pump Room restaurant and the medieval Abbey, are the captivating Ancient Roman Baths dating 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 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 Roman origins and its eventual disuse and disrepair, 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 audio guide is informative and detailed, for a more lighthearted tour of the site, take advantage of the Bill Bryson audio guide option.
Thermae Bath Spa.
After two hours wandering through the Ancient Roman Baths, head to the modern day spa centre at the Thermae Bath Spa. Just a few minutes walk from the museum, the Thermae Bath Spa has two main bath 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, culminating in its 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. Wrapped up in a fluffy robe, head straight to the rooftop. From the open air pool, take in views of the neighbouring hills and watch as the sun begins to set, amplifying the honey-hue of the surrounding Georgian buildings.
After sunset, head down to the Wellness Suite to the six themed spa rooms. 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 experience no queues at all.
If you would rather visit the Cross Bath (not the New Royal Bath), you can only book but you'll need to wait until 48 hours before your expected arrival.