While my friend Zahra was in town from Seattle we decided to explore Bath for a day. Bath is an adorable city just 90 minutes west of London by train and was founded by the Romans as a spa town sometime in AD 60s. So ancient! Bath is also home to Georgian architecture, the Jane Austen Museum, fabulous restaurants, and lots of shopping. Read: a perfect girl’s day retreat.
The sunny Spring weather was perfect for exploring on foot. Our first stop was Restaurant 11 for lunch. I’d been once before on a whirlwind day tour of Stonehenge and Bath and the food was so memorable I was eager to return. Once fueled up, we walked to the Royal Crescent which was built between 1767-1775 and comprises 30 homes. In the 18th century Bath was a fashionable destination for young ladies and eligible bachelors to meet up. These homes were often rented for just a few weeks or months by high society members to see and be seen by everyone who mattered. You can tour one of the homes to see what life was like back then. Every room is arranged as it would have been in the 18th century and the tour guides are excellent. Definitely worth the £8.50 entry fee.
Next stop was the Assembly Halls where formal balls and extravagant social gatherings took place. One of the tour guides compared Bath back in the day to Las Vegas because of all the partying and debauchery that took place.
We also visited the Jane Austen Center to learn more about the author’s time spent there. Two of her six novels are based in Bath (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion) although she only lived there five years. A tour guide shares the story of Jane’s life and her experience living in Bath and its impact on her writing. Then you wander through the museum’s interactive displays and have an opportunity to dress up like characters from one of her novels. We bypassed this because we needed a caffeine and sugar break.
We found tea and scones at Barton’s Tea Rooms just down the street from the Jane Austen Center. The scones were fresh out of the oven and the tea was delicious. Highly recommend this as a mid-day break destination for tea or coffee and some sweets.
Our last stop of the tour de Bath was also my favorite and the namesake of the city: the Roman Baths. The Baths are preserved from the 1st – 4th centuries AD and are situated over a hot springs. They’re no longer in use as the water is untreated but you can see them as they existed back in the day. I was absolutely in awe of the construction techniques used by the Romans and the various spa rooms for different bathing styles. We spent an hour wandering and learning about the history of the site.
After seeing the baths we wandered around the streets a bit longer but most of the shops had closed by 6pm so we headed towards the train station to return to London.
On the way we walked past the Bath Abbey which is amazing in its own right but didn’t go in. It’s right next door to the Roman Baths so you can’t miss it.
Bath is the definition of “lovely” in British-speak. I will gladly return with my future visitors!
Know Before You Go:
- If you’re taking the train from London go to Paddington Station to catch a train (they leave at least hourly).
- Everything in Bath is within walking distance of the train station, so easy!
- Several tour bus companies offer day trips to Stonehenge and Bath, a good option if your time in England is limited.
- Do yourself a favor and make a reservation at Restaurant 11 for lunch.