Natasha Blair is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers and where possible travels with her passport carrying dog, Trixie. Not a beach worshippper, she is always on the lookout for new and interesting places to visit, preferably in comfort.
The spa town of Bath, featuring natural hot springs and an abundance of Georgian architecture, has the accolade of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Set two hours east of London, Bath’s stunning scenery, spas, shopping and historic attractions make it worthy of a visit if England is on your list of future travel plans.
Built on seven hills between 1767 and 1774, Bath has its main concentration of buildings all within walking distance. Standing on the cobbled stone pavements of the Royal Crescent or the nearby Circus, it’s easy to let your imagination go back to the eighteenth century when a visit to Bath was part of the social calendar. It was certainly “the” place to come to take the waters.
Today, Bath fulfills the same function for which it was founded — a lovely England escape. These are some of the places I enjoyed:
Where to Stay
I stayed at the Relais & Chateaux Royal Crescent Hotel, made up of town houses, in the center of the Royal Crescent. Positioned on a hill overlooking the Royal Victoria Park, The Royal Crescent Hotel is dog friendly. Trixie, my miniature Yorkshire Terrier was provided with her own bed. Although a lovely gesture, size-wise it was more suitable for an Alsatian!
Architecturally, a lot of the town has been maintained in its original splendor. Many of the houses were rented to visitors who came to Bath to take the waters. In the Royal Crescent, one of the houses has been turned into a museum. The interior decor has been restored, as much as possible, with original fixtures and fittings.
Take a Dip
Taking the waters dates back to Roman times, and the original Roman baths in the city center, close to the Abbey, are a must see of any visit. Today, visitors can still experience how life was then. Pictures beamed onto its walls create scenarios of people in the costume of the period.
Visitors are still able to taste the waters in the Pump Room, now used as a restaurant. However, the Pump Room is disappointingly devoid of atmosphere. Although the original baths are now a tourist attraction, visitors can still experience the merits of the hot springs. The Thermae Bath Spa, using the hot spa waters, is open to the general public. We enjoyed the open-air pool, where we sat in the warmth of the thermal waters despite the freezing weather.
Time Travel to the 18th Century
Whenever I watch a period film, dancing plays an important part of the social life. As many of the visitors to Bath in the eighteenth century lived in rented accommodations, The Assembly Rooms were where everyone socialized. Visitors can tour the ballroom, tea room and card room. The basement houses the Fashion Museum, a must for anyone with an interest in clothes. The displays showcase the changing fashions from the late sixteenth century to the present day. A particular large female visitor had us in hysterics lacing herself into a boned corset.
With a city center that is compact and easily walkable, shopping in Bath is a delightful experience. Winding passageways offer both one-of-a-kind, independent boutiques and big name stores. Shoppers can purchase designer clothing or forage for antiques. Every Saturday from 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. traders set up shop at the Bath Farmers’ Market at Green Park, stock up on local game (in season), pork pies, mushrooms, cheeses, apple juice, tea, pastries and much more.
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Featured Image: Bath, England (Shutterstock.com)