Bucket List Bath – Roman World Heritage, relaxing spas and American history

In Bath, a thing from the past is never far away. After all, Bath is the only city in the UK that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What’s not a thing from the past is its popularity. 

In 2013, the readers of the Guardian and Observer Travel Awards voted Bath as their favourite city in the UK. I have been three times so far and this voting comes as no surprise to me. 

As I have discovered, there are plenty of reasons why film fans should visit this versatile town…

How to get there

Just as with Rome, there are many roads that lead to Bath. From London you can easily get there by train, bus or en route during a guided coach tour. On my first visit, me and my mum stopped over for a few hours during our “England in one day” itinerary with Premium Tours. In May 2014, me and my American relatives passed through by car on our English countryside road trip. And on my third visit in July this year, I hopped on the National Express for £13.50 return. Not bad, hey?

Six Things to Do

1. The Roman Baths: No visit to Bath would be complete without seeing the ruins of the spectacular bathing temple set up by the powerful Roman settlers around AD 43. If you only do one thing, do this! The entrance price might seem a bit steep, but it’s absolutely worth it! First of all, for a history buff like myself it’s amazing to see how something so old can still be so well preserved. Second of all, the museum would only be half as interesting if it hadn’t been designed in a way that makes it the most exciting interactive (and by the way very child-friendly) experience.

Roman Baths       Water source in the Roman Baths

The audio guides provide the visitor with tons of well researched background stories about the city that was once called Aquae Sulis as well as the Roman people (both lower and upper classes) that used to live and work here. These people are impersonated by real actors running around the Baths as well as actors in films projected onto the wall.

Catching up with the Romans

Catching up with the Romans

Me at the Baths in May 2014

Me at the Baths in May 2014

Plan your visit at www.romanbaths.co.uk

2. Bath Thermae Spa: If all that sightseeing has made you tired, what better treat is there than to indulge in a spa yourself? Luckily, you don’t have to walk far. A few steps from the Roman Baths Museum, you will find the modern version of the Romans’ well-being temple.

Bath Spa

Bath Spa

I really wanted to try this out on my visit in July and so I booked the Thermae Treat spa package for £69. With this package I got 4 hours in the spa, my own towel, robe and slippers, a Reviver Back Massage and a Head & Food Massage. I thought this was great value for money.

Orientation-wise, I found the spa a little confusing in the beginning. For obvious reasons, it was build in a style focusing on height rather than width, so be prepared to walk up and a down the stairs a few times. The great advantage is of course the open-air rooftop pool, which offers great views over the city and up into the dramatic sky. What I liked the most were the steam rooms with four gorgeous scent mixtures and an amazing rainfall shower!

Twilight in Bath

Twilight in Bath

Plan your visit at www.thermaebathspa.com

3. The American Museum in Britain: Probably a bit underrated because less known and located a outside of the main town centre, this museum is a hidden gem! From the central bus stop just behind the abbey, there is an hourly shuttle bus service with a very friendly driver.

Room of early American settlers

What a room of one the early settler families in New England would have looked like.

The museum itself was worth the small journey because once you are there, you get to undergo a journey through all centuries of America history – accompanied by an amazing audio guide and enthusiastic staff in almost every room. Who would have thought that you can see so much of the USAwhile still standing on British soil? Now that’s definitely a journey you wouldn’t want to miss!

American Folk art

American Folk art

Southern plantation room

Loved being in this splendid bedroom of a Southern plantation.

Native American Propaganda

Native American Propaganda

Plan your visit at www.americanmuseum.org

4. The Fashion Museum: A must-see for anyone interested in how people dressed over the centuries. My visit started off with an exhibition about the suffrage movement women, “fashion” during World War I and costumes from various films and TV series such as Doctor Zhivago or Downtown Abbey.

A great highlight for every inner child was the dressing up area! Where else can you get a picture of yourself in Victorian dress? 🙂 It was free, too as you can take the picture with your own camera. At the end of the permanent exhibition is a display of all the “Dresses of the year”. I thought the line-up of the “Dresses of the year” from 2000, 1969 and 1985 was quite amusing as they so quintessentially represent their era. Who doesn’t remember Jennifer Lopez’ Versace belly button cleavage? It was THEdress everyone talked about for much of the year 2000.

Plan your visit at www.museumofcostume.co.uk

Me in Victorian Dress  Dress of the Year 2013  Dress of the Year 2000, 1969 and 1985

5. No. 1 Royal Crescent: Bath’s world-famous flats for the rich and famous – Royal Crescent and the Circus – teach you a lot about how the city looked like and functioned in the glorious Georgian times. No. 1 has been completely restored as to how the house would have looked like when Henry Sandford lived here between 1776 and 1796. I thoroughly enjoyed strolling through the house, which again had very friendly and helpful staff in the rooms. The exhibition on the top floor about mistresses and women with dubious professions was fascinating, too.

Plan your visit at www.no1royalcrescent.org.uk

The Circus Royal Crescent

6. Bath Film Loctions: Particularly because of its wealth of Georgian style houses, Bath is the perfect place to shoot films that are set in the 18th to early 20th century. Most recently, a scene from Les Miserables (2013) was filmed around Bath’s iconic Pulteney Bridge. Other big name productions include Vanity Fair, Persuasion and The Duchess.

To discover the various movie sets around the city, you can download the FREE Bath Movie Map via Visit Bath.

Street in Bath

Street in Bath

I also briefly visited the Holborne Museum – a rich gem for every fine art lover as it is full of lovely Georgian paintings. But the attractions described here were just the highlights of my visit. Of course, depending on your interests, there is so much more to do in Bath. The Jane Austen Centre is, for example, a must-do for every fan.

Discover more on the official Visit Bath website: www.visitbath.co.uk

Where to stay

The Rainbow Wood Farm is a privately owned small Bed&Breakfast farm that my American relatives discovered. The farmhouse is very old, the rooms comfy and the full English “breakie” yummy. If you are lucky (like we were), the host might give you a tour to meet the many animal residents of the farm including chicken, piglets, dogs and cows.

Chicken on the Rainbow Wood Farm

Dog on the Rainbow Wood Farm

Book your room at www.rainbowwoodfarm.com 

What have you experienced in Bath? Maybe you have even visited a film set? I’m curious! Share it with me in your comment below!

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