If anyone wonders if it’s worth going to Bath – do it! It’s now firmly in my top 5 best cities to visit in the UK. Would I recommend going in January ? Yes, however bearing certain things in mind. It felt much, much colder than London, despite it being around +6 degrees. Initially cold and dry, it got windy and drizzly on Sunday and by the end of 2 hour long guided City Tour I was literally frozen. The Airbnb I stayed in, although lovely and cosy, was in one of those townhouses with very high ceilings and old windows, so even with the heating on it was cold. I also managed to lock myself out (my fault) but this was resolved very quickly…So all in all, prepare for cold temperatures, short days, and a fairly high number of shoppers and visitors. I don’t think I’d want to go there in summertime, and certainly not during the Jane Austin Festival.
At 9 am on Saturday, I was the first visitor at the Roman Baths. Watching the steam over the green-ish blue pool was incredible. It is the only hot spring in the UK and it’s three sources still provide mineral water to local spas. Shockingly, since the late 1970 util 2006 the precious waters were ending in the drain because NHS had no interest in investing and utilising them for hydrotherapy. I grew up in a very popular spa town in Poland and I am very familiar with benefits of mineral waters. It’s unthinkable for me that such unique natural resource could be wasted, especially in a country that, unlike so many in Europe, don’t have abundance of it.
I did put my hand in the water and I can confirm it was really hot 🙂 I also tasted it later, from a special tap (not from the pool!) and it had a metallic taste, not terribly unpleasant.
When I left the Roman Baths the queue outside was getting bigger, and I was really glad I’d booked the earliest slot. Next, Bath Abbey. I booked a guided Tower Tour – for the views, of course. The tour was informative and good value for money and the guide even rang a bell for us 🙂 The only thing I disliked was the staircase, only 200 steps or so but very narrow.. The Abbey was lovely and welcoming, free entry too (separate fees for Tower and guided Abbey tours).
After a short break at Airbnb I headed back down a very steep hill to the City Centre to take some pics after dark. Bath looked even more splendid that during the daytime. I couldn’t help but notice how many shops and stores there were, and very few of them appeared empty. Retail is clearly doing well in Bath.
I had to do Free Bath City Tour on Sunday, as they only had 10:30 am walk on Saturday and it was clashing with my Roman Baths and Abbey sightseeing. I left Airbnb early, hoping that the streets would be mostly empty – and they were! I later learned from the excellent tour guide Richard that Bath as we see it today was built in elegant Palladianism style, inspired by a Venetian architect Andrea Palladio. I must say it certainly had that European feel to me. When I as checking out little side streets and courtyards I was also strongely reminded of Krakow’s Kazimierz district. It’s the vibe I think, rather than actual resemblance.
A morning drizzle continued through Sunday, but it only made Bath streets more atmospheric.
I felt rather jealous looking towards Thermae Spa roof pool. It would have been lovely on such a cold day. Well, this was a budget, selft catering weekend away in late January, and a great introduction to Bath. As I said, I wouldn’t go there in the summer, too pricey and overcrowded (just like London!) but I’d certainly recommend giving it a go in colder months. Richard, our guide, told me he was going to Chester to visit his sister. I hope you had a great time up North Richard 🙂