| || |
Bath is home to the University of Bath, a well respected institution with a focus on science and management subjects.
Bath is home to the University of Bath, a well respected institution with a focus on science and management subjects.
| || |
Revision as of 21:25, 5 December 2006
Bath  is an historic resort (spa) town and World Heritage Site in the English ceremonial county of Somerset, situated 100 miles west of London and 15 miles (25 km) south-east of the nearest big city Bristol. A unique location, Bath is famous for its hot springs, Roman period baths, Medieval heritage and stately Georgian architecture. Set amongst the rolling Somerset countryside, Bath (population 90,000+) offers a diverse range of attractions for its millions of visitors each year: restaurants, theatres, cinemas, pubs and nightclubs, along with interesting museums, and a wide range of guided tours.
One of the windows in Bath Cathedral
Bath is the oldest of England’s principal tourist destinations and has been welcoming visitors for millennia. The three hot springs within the city were sacred to the Celtic goddess Sulis, whom the Romans later identified with the goddess Minerva. Bath first achieved its status as a sacred spa site with the growth of the Roman settlement Aquae Sulis around the thermal springs. The Roman period saw a vast complex of baths constructed - the remains of these were re-discovered in the 18th century and helped fuel Bath's modern revival as a luxury resort.
Bath was a prosperous city in the Medieval period, the site of an Abbey and Cathedral (under the Bishop of Bath and Wells). The Reformation under Henry VIII saw some uncertainty emerge in Bath's future, although the reign of Elizabeth I saw the first revival of the town as a spa resort. It was during the Georgian period, however, that Bath came once again into its own. Exceedingly fashionable, Bath was laid out in stately avenues, streets and crescents, encrusted with Neo-Classical public buildings.
Bristol International Airport is situated 20 miles from Bath and boasts scheduled flights from major European cities, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Paris and Prague (but not London). By public transport catch the Flyer bus service from the airport to Bristol Temple Meads station, then the train from there to Bath; expect the journey to take about one hour, and longer between 4pm and 6pm when Bristol's roads are
Southampton Airport is under 2 hours from Bath by train,
and connections are good. It is served mainly by the budget airline Flybe, flying mostly to European destinations.
The alternative is to use one of the London airports and travel on to Bath by train, car or bus. The most convenient are:
- Heathrow Airport is about two hours drive straight down the M4 (westbound) motorway. Alternatively the RailAir express bus service (running every 20 minutes) connects with the main London to Bath rail service at Reading rail station; expect the total journey to take slightly over two hours. Alternatively the National Express coach company run direct buses from Heathrow to Bath bus station.
- Gatwick Airport is about three hours drive away via the M23 (northbound), M25 (clockwise) and M4 (westbound) motorways. Alternatively a half-hourly rail service from Gatwick connects with the main London to Bath rail service at Reading rail station; expect the total journey to take slightly over two hours.
- Stansted Airport is about three hours drive away via the M11 (southbound), M25 (anti-clockwise) and M4 (westbound) motorways. By train you will need to catch a Stanstead Express train to London Liverpool Street station, the tube to London Paddington station, then follow the directions below; expect the total journey to take around three and a half hours.
- London Luton Airport is about a three hour train ride. The Thameslink rail connects the airport to central London where you can catch a train to Bath Spa.
Bath Spa station is located in the city centre and has regular inter-city and regional train services from Bristol, London, Reading, Salisbury, Southampton, Weymouth and Swindon. From London, you should travel from London Paddington station. There are several through trains an hour which take around 1 hour 40 minutes for the journey. Train times (from any location) can be found on the National Rail Planner or by calling 0845-748-4950 from anywhere in the UK.
There are no luggage lockers in the station, but you can leave your bags in a lost luggage office at a nearby coach station for a small fee.
Get off the M4 at Junction 18, follow signs for about 5 miles.
Parking in central Bath is often a nightmare and two hour limits apply on many streets. Major central multi-storey car parks are based at Ham Gardens (near the bus and train stations) and Charlotte Street (off Queens Square). A Larger parking lot is available in Victoria Park, adjacent to the Royal Crescent. Average 2004 rates are around £1 - £1.50 an hour -or the more prohibtive 30p per 10 minutes in the most convenient street locations.
The best way to drive into town is to use the park and ride facilities when travelling into Bath for the day. You can park for free and then take a bus for £1.70 per person return (round-trip, discounts exist) right into the city. The only downside to this is that the last bus leaves at 8:30pm, so you can't use this service if you're staying in Bath late.
The coach station turn-off is opposite the railway station. On leaving the station, go straight ahead (crossing the road) and the bus/coach station will be visible to your left.
Most locations in Bath are easily walkable from the city center and stations.
Bath's roads can be quite congested and driving is not particularly to be recommended for local journeys, but is probably the best way of seeing the surrounding region.
Typically for British public transport, public buses are at best adequate. A popular 'Park and Ride' bus system operates from a ring of parking lots around the outskirts of the city (Newbridge, Lansdown and Odd Down). It can take you to Milsom Street, the city's main shopping street, or to a number of the cities schools.
The regular bus service runs to and from central Bath morning to evening (7pm). Tour buses complete an enjoyable circuit of main attractions - these can be picked up en route or at the main bay at 'Bog Island' near Bath Abbey. Attractions en route include the historic Royal Crescent, The Circus - and some tour bus companies include a route up the winding Ralph Allen Road past the impressive Prior Park Gardens. Tickets cost between £6 - £8 for the 45 minute, hop-on, hop-off service.
- Roman Baths. Built by the Romans around 2000 years ago, and later rediscovered by the Victorians, the Roman Baths are the must-see tourist attraction in Bath. The baths are fuelled by England's only hot mineral springs, outputting over a million litres of hot water each day. You can wander the rooms that made up the baths, including the large open air 'Great Bath', see Roman, medieval, and Georgian architecture, and learn about the history of Bath Spa. Stall St, BA1 1LZ. ph 012 2547 7785. Adults £10. Open Jan-Feb & Nov-Dec 09.30 - 16.30, Mar-Jun & Sep-Oct 09.00 - 17.00, Jul & Aug 09.00 - 21.00. Closed 25th & 26th Dec. 
- The Royal Crescent, a magnificent crescent of houses designed by John Wood and completed in 1774. You can visit one of the houses which has been redecorated to resemble what it would have been like at the end of the 18th century. But you don't need to go in to admire the exterior and its view over Bath. There is also a large grass field outside of the front. 1 Royal Crescent, BA1 2LR ph 01225 428 126. Adults £5. 
- Pulteney Street & Pulteney Weir - Quintessential Georgian street. Film location for 2005's 'Vanity Fair' (the Reese Witherspoon version). Made for casual strolling past the Laura Place fountain, down to the Holborne Museum, around Sydney Gardens, then back up Pulteney Street. Below Pulteney Street is the Recreation Ground, home of the highly successful Bath rugby union club. Tourist trips by boat leave from the Weir during summer months. The Weir is an impressive site below the Pulteney Bridge, an attraction in itself with boutique stores operating along the bridge. 
- Bath Abbey , city centre, adjacent to the Roman Baths, open Easter Sunday - end British Summer time 9am-6pm, other times 9am-4.30pm - the last Gothic church in England, started in 1499 and built on the ruins of the former Norman cathedral, this impressively large church (of small cathedral proportions) is located next to the Roman Baths. A place of Australian pilgrimage: Arthur Phillip, first Governor of New South Wales and founder of the city of Sydney has his burial and memorial within the Abbey.
- Sion Hill - Wealthy neighbourhood in the upper part of the city that makes for a pleasant stroll. Attractive Bath stone buildings.
- Sally Lunn's Refreshment House & Museum - Oldest House in Bath - see below under Eat
- Walcot Street - Bath's 'Camden Town' bohemia with bargain antiques and weekend markets.
- Bath's Crescents - Georgian architecture at its best can be seen at Bath's handful of crescent shaped, residential streets, offering superb views over the city. The Royal Crescent is the most famous, but Camden Crescent offers the best views, Cavendish Crescent is the most petite. Lansdown Crescent and Widcombe Crescent are also fine examples.
- Other attractions include the American Museum in Britain (closed Dec 15 - Mar 16, Adult £6.50), the WikiPedia:Thermae Bath Spa (to open on 7 August 2006 ), WikiPedia:Solsbury Hill, the Kennet and Avon Canal, River Avon, WikiPedia:St. Catherine's Court (unsure if you can visit, but you can stay there for £6500/weekend!) , William Herschel Museum (Adult £3.50), Beckford's Tower (Adult £3), Sydney Gardens (a free park where Jane Austen used to visit).
Museums and Galleries
- Sally Lunn's Refreshment House & Museum.  City centre shrine to the original Bath Bun - also Oldest House in Bath - simple but enjoyable museum in cellars is free if guests take refreshment - see below under eat
- The small Building of Bath Museum , in the Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel on the Paragon is one of the most fascinating museums in Bath. It gives an excellent potted history of the development of the Georgian city, illustrated with cut-away wooden models which give a better insight than any book into the construction and structure of Georgian houses and their furnishings. It also houses a unique collection of 18th century builder's tools.
- The Museum of Costume , Assembly Rooms, adjacent to the Royal Crescent and Circus
- The Holburne Museum of Arts , Great Pulteney Street - displays the treasures collected by Sir William Holburne: superb English and continental silver, porcelain, maiolica, glass and Renaissance bronzes. The Picture Gallery contains works by Turner, Guardi, Stubbs and others plus portraits of Bath society by Thomas Gainsborough.
- The Bath Postal Museum , 8 Broad Street, tel 01225 460333 -
- The Jane Austen Centre , 40 Gay Street, Queens Square, tel 01225 443000,(not much here - so don't expect too much and you won't be dissapointed)
Theatre Royal - The historic Theatre Royal in the Sawclose, near the city centre, opened in 1805. It offers a rich programme of drama and other entertainment throughout the year, ranging from traditional pantomime at Christmas to Ayckbourn, folk singers, opera and Shakespeare. Programmes in the past few years have included a summer season mounted by the distinguished director Peter Hall. In addition to the main house, the Theatre Royal has two smaller performance spaces - the Ustinov Studio and a (very) new theatre for children, the Egg - and three restaurants, The Valuts, the 1805 Rooms and the Egg Cafe.
Bath Golf Club - Excellent, free draining hilltop course. Not overly long but an excellent challenge for the mid-handicapper. Always in excellent condition. Located at Sham Castle, near Bath University.
Tracey Park Golf Club - Appealing 27 hole parkland course between Bath and Wick (bristol). The Crown course is superior to the Cromwell course, which has some newish holes. Nice clubhouse.
Lansdown Golf Club - Narrow fairways are a feature of this hilltop course next to Bath racecourse: can get windy.
Entry Hill - Municipal, nine-hole learners course. Not bad now that the trees have grown up. Superb views over Bath.
Click here for ABLE leaflet Local leaflet produced by cooperative of attractions
Orchardleigh Parkland Golf Course - Classy parkland layout near Frome (10 miles from Bath). Lots of trees and water - virtually impossible to get around without colliding with some wood or finding the drink. Quite tight, with firm fairways in summer. Also a bit of a wildlife haven and there is a French-style chateau on the drive in.
Bowood - Very long, challenging championship course near Chippenham. Bring a trolley! Superb greens. A gem of the area.
Bristol & Clifton - Mature, well tended course near M5, a real pleasure to play.
Knowle - Tight, tree-lined, not overly long - several well known golfers associated with this course.
Castle Combe - Millionaire's golf - quality layout, hilly in parts, pricey, off junction 17 of M4. Course attached to the charming Manor House.
Erlestoke - 'Middle of nowhere location' (well not quite as its near the Westbury White Horse) this is a parkland gem with some cracking holes. Best rate is Monday twilight.
Wells - There are several reasons to make the 20-mile trip over the Mendips from Bath to Wells: the stunning cathedral, the Bishop's Palace and swan-filled moat, and the old golf course that winds up and down the hillside on the outskirts of the city.
Marlborough - An hour's drive from Bath towards London. Hugely appealing parkland layout with a tough opening hole. Excellent weekend twilight rate.
Wales - Make the short drive west from Bath, over the Severn Bridge into Wales, for a choice of quality courses near Cardiff, including Celtic Manor (Ryder Cup host 2009), St Pierre, Radyr and Wenvoe Castle. Rolls of Monmouth is also good.
Bath's Cricket Clubs
Visitors to Bath wanting to enjoy a summer afternoon watching cricket have some lovely grounds that welcome spectators for saturday and sunday fixtures:
Bath Cricket Club - Nestled in the 'bowl' beside the River Avon, the Bath Cricket Club has an imperious setting. The church on South Parade offers a picture perfect background. Located on North Parade, five minutes walk from the train station. Bath Cricket Club are one of the stronger regional league sides.
Lansdown Cricket Club - Former early 1970s home of Viv Richards, Lansdown Cricket Club is an equally attractive ground at the upper end of Bath. Located at Combe Park, next to the Royal United Hospital (near Weston village). Bus number 14 runs to Weston from Bath town centre).
There is a free walking tour of the city that lasts about 2 hours and is a great experience. More information about it and others can be found here.
Bath is home to the University of Bath, a very well respected institution with a focus on science and management subjects. Regularily rated in the UK's top five universities. Best remembered by most alumni for a buzzing campus atmosphere and crazy houseparties. Also has world-class sports facilities, where British olympic athletes train. Located atop the lofty peaks of Bathwick hill, about 2km east of the city centre.
Many Bathonians are employed in the tourist industry. There is also a thriving retail and dining industry, and the university is another source for jobs. Future Publishing, a large magazine and media company, has many offices in Bath.
Bath is arguably the best city outside London for shopping. Some excellent boutique shopping is to be had in the upper part of the city, notable for its art and antiques. Head up Milsom Street to George Street and beyond.
- The Royal Crescent Hotel, 16 Royal Crescent, +44 1225 823333, , .Set lunch a bargain at £18.
- Sakura @ Dukes Hotel, Great Pulteney Street, +44 1225 787960 , , . Inventive Japanese cuisine.
- The Moon & Sixpence, 6a Broad Street, +44 1225 460962, , . Open from 11am daily, lunch 12-2.15pm, dinner 5.30–10.30pm. Attractive restaurant off Milsom Street.
- The Priory Hotel, Weston Road, +44 1225 331922, , . Top notch food, top whack prices.
- Firehouse Rotisserie, 2 John Street, +44 1225 482070, . Open M-Sa for lunch 12-2.30pm and dinner and 6-11pm. Creative Californian restaurant, again off Milsom Street. Service can be somewhat aloof and pretentious - nice but expensive nosh.
- Circus Restaurant, 34 Brock Street, +44 1225 318918, . Open daily for lunch 12pm onwards and dinner 6.30pm onwards. Intimate venue in-between the famous Circus and Royal Crescent. Sunday lunch a bargain at £15 for 3 courses (2005 price).
- Raphael, Upper Borough Walls, +44 1225 480042, . Open M-Sa 11am-11pm, Su 12-10.30pm. Reinvented as a classy nouveau French restaurant. Situated near Theatre Royal.
- Sukothai, 90a Walcot Street, +44 1225 462463. Authentic Thai food in pleasant surroundings and at a reasonable price.
- Sally Lunn's Refreshment House & Museum, 4 North Parade Passage, +44 1225 461634 . to taste the original Sally Lunn Bun not to be confused with the more famous Bath Bun, a small round bun containing of sugar and currants.
- Browns, Orange Grove (over the road from Bath Abbey), +44 1225 461199, . One of a (usually but not always!) reliable chain of middle-market restaurants with branches in many of the most attractive towns in southern England including Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, and Windsor.
- Strada, Sawclose (next to the Theatre Royal), +44 1225 337753, . Once the home of Richard 'Beau' Nash, who was one of the main influences on Bath's evolution in the first half of the eighteenth century from a dirty, bawdy, uncivil and decidedly un-smart provincial town into the hugely fashionable and (relatively) polite spa resort we associate with Georgian Bath.
- Fudge Kitchen, 10 Abbey Churchyard, +44 1225 462277,  The best fudge i have ever eaten, and a discount for school children. Watch the the different fudge flavours being made and then try a piece before you buy. You certainly wont regret going in there. The shop also caters for special occasions like weddings. Very friendly staff and an excellent gift/ food.
- Ben & Jerrys Great location outside Aquae Sulis, the Roman Baths, and the church/abbey serving ice cream, snacks and drinks (and hot food in restaurant inside). Excellent small ice-cream shop. Ben & Jerry's Offical UK Site with offers and special deals but very little information relating to this shop in bath, unfortunately.
The idea that Bath is a 'posh' city is dispelled by a weekend tour of the bars in the lower part of the city. Most aren't worth bothering with, but a few stand out.
- Ye Old Green Tree. Very small, characterful old pub (Green Street, off the main shopping area of Milsom Street). Squeeze through the door, elbow your way to the bar and order some real ale or cider. Then take on the challenge of trying to drink it without spillage as the tourists continue to pour in.
- The Salamander. Nice selection of real ales. Next door is the popular Firehouse Californian Restaurant. (location - Quiet Street, again off Milsom Street).
- Raincheck Bar. now Beau Bar Decent alternative to the Garricks Head for a pre/post theatre drink. Located around the corner from the Theatre Royal - hang out for divorcees......
- Grappa Bar. A bit of class on the road towards Lansdown. Intimate, metro-style bar - quite romantic.
- Lambrettas . Scooter-themed pub along North Parade (near train station and Parade Gardens).
- Caffè Uno . Pretentions to Italian styling with wall paintings etc. Spacious, brasserie-style cafe superbly located overlooking Pulteney Weir.
- Garfunkels  & Browns . Two popular tourist pubs adjacent to Bath Abbey. Bit more pricey but pleasant, open and stylish, with outdoor seating areas. The address is Orange Grove, a short walk from the train station.
- The Boater. Awesome beer garden. When the large garden's full of students it can be fun, with Pulteney Weir in view.
- RSVP, George Street Opposite Revolution. Overpriced Bar with huge, intimidating steroid junkie bouncers. Popular with large parties before they head off to a local nightclub.
- Revolution, George Street . Two-floor vodka bar with live DJ sets on weekends; very busy, magnet for fashion victims and dolly birds.
- Pig and Fiddle. I just don't understand why people like this pub - takes ages to get served and impossible to get a seat in summer. There is a seating area outside but, like, big deal.
There is a definite shortage of cutting edge nightclubs in Bath. Expect bog-standard commercial dance on popular nights. Serious clubbers travel to Bristol or London. While the above is certainly true, drunken revellers expecting fun times can choose from a veritable bounty of nightclubs located in the city center, mainly popular with students and 30-something-year-old divorcees looking for a cheap thrill.
- QUBE  George street. What can we say? The only place to be on a monday or thursday night. Beautiful drink offers, cheap girls, and music that will make you wish you were born without ears. Conveniently located next to the police station. 0,33 Litre Becks 1.50 pounds.
- D club XL Walcot street. Formerly known as Caddilac Club. If you dont mind the stink of vomit-saturated carpet, you will love this place. Friendly jamaican bouncers. Popular with first year students, particularily girls looking for good times.
- Delfter Krug Opposite the Theatre Royal. Occasionally gets top-class DJ's such as Mylo and Seb Fontaine. Cool house tunes, great bar but a disappointingly small dancefloor. Great location nextdoor to Schwartz Bro's burger joint, the best place in town for an awesome hamburger.
- Playground Just off Laura Place on Great Pulteney street. Bomb shelter-style club built in an 18th century sewer playing awful music. A few pretty girls, but only when supplied by yours truly. :) Contact 07981744238 for details.
- Elements Student club on Bath University campus. Discount entry with a British student card. Crap Music, cheap drinks, but full of students looking for easy sex, cheap thrills and a drunken night out. After-parties are often found in student houses. Eastwood 42 is particularily renowned for happytimes.
- Moles Another bunker-style club playing jazz tunes. Popular with emos and Bath-Spa University students.
- Babylon Near central bus station. Underground Hip-hop club which actually manages to attract some big names like MC Skinnyman. Popular with junkies. Atmosphere is generally creepy. Very cheap XXXX beer.
Accommodation in and around Bath ranges from budget hostels and smart, comfortable self-catering homes, through elegant bed and breakfast and guesthouses, hospitable farms and inns, to top-of-the-range hotels.
- Carfax Hotel, 13-15 Great Pulteney Street, Bath, BA2 4BS, 01225 462089. (email:[email protected], Fax: 01225 413257), . A trio of Georgian Town Houses in Bath's famous Great Pulteney St, with car park, lifts, restaurant and affordable prices. A very central hotel in walking distance of the Roman Baths and Abbey, with Henrietta Park at the rear.
- Hilton Bath City, Walcot Street, 01225 463411 (email:[email protected], Fax: 01225 464393), . The location is everything for this hotel, right in the center of Bath. The rooms themselves are small and not terribly impressive.
- The Abbey Hotel, North Parade, 01225 461603 (email: [email protected], Fax: 01225 447758), . Comfortable and relaxed atmosphere, well-equipped rooms, great breakfasts, reasonable rates.
- Express by Holiday Inn New hotel about 1 mile from city centre. From £79 for a double room with basic breakfast.
- Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel, Sydney Road, 0870 400 8222 (email:[email protected], Fax: 01225 444006), . One of Bath's flagship hotels - 5 star luxury with fine decor and amenities. Bath Spa Hotel is the celebrity's favourite: Joan Collins and Felicity Kendall have been spotted there. A nice grotto is a feature of the large front lawn. Adjacent to the attractive Sydney Gardens - a great starting point for the mile-long canal walk to Bathampton village.
Bath is a very safe city to visit; the large number of tourists and university students generates a friendly and vigorous feel to the city, and crime rates are much below the England average. Bath city centre is lively and bustling until late on Friday and Saturday evenings. The only common problem for tourists is the occasional groups of homeless beggars around the parks and abbey - you may see them drinking lager and shouting abuse, which can surprise many first-time images. However, they're not pushy when asking for money, and argue amongst themselves rather than getting passers-by involved. Accept it as a byproduct of a city that attracts tourism (and therefore money), and it's no problem.
- Bristol, with its many attractions situated around the floating harbour and Avon Gorge, is only some 12 miles drive or 15 minutes train journey away, and makes an excellent day trip from Bath.
- Bradford-upon-Avon is a beautiful, picture-postcard small town near Bath.