Bath is undoubtedly one of the most strikingly beautiful cities in all of Europe. Intricate Georgian architecture, fashioned from the golden Bath stone that gives the city its distinct look, lends itself to a cosmopolitan hub with a plentiful, diverse array of things to see and do.
The Roman Baths
Founded by the Romans over 2,000 years ago and given the name 'Aquae Sulis' ('the waters of Sulis') Bath is best known for the natural hot springs that run underneath the city. These waters were harnessed by the early settlers, leading them to build the world-renowned Roman Baths, an ornate temple dedicated to relaxation and recuperation. A reservoir (known as the Great Bath) was crafted to contain the flowing hot water, surrounded by elaborate carvings, pillars and other luxurious intricacies.
Today, the Roman Baths are the city's top attraction and it's easy to see why. Aside from the majesty of the main Great Bath, the complex also plays host to smaller, more intimate spas and even changing rooms – another Roman innovation. The complex delves deeper underground where many important archaeological discoveries were made, including Roman headstones and statues.
Visitors to the Baths can take an extended tour of the ancient facilities, crossing walkways over excavated Roman architecture, with modern video reconstructions showing just how things were at the Baths almost 2,000 years ago. Though bathing at the Roman Baths is not permitted, the Thermae Bath Spa, found just a five minutes' walk from this historical site, is designed just for that purpose.
Thermae Bath Spa
Once you've taken in the heritage and culture of the Roman Baths, how about finding out for yourself how those ancient settlers felt as they clambered into a bubbling pool of water after a long day's conquering? At the Thermae Bath Spa, you can bathe in the very springs that the Romans did in a modern environment, into clean, mineral-rich water that retains its natural warmth as it makes its way to the Earth's surface.
As with their ancient counterparts, the pools at the Thermae Bath Spa vary in size and temperature. The open-air Rooftop Pool is the jewel in the crown, giving glorious views across this most elegant of cities – by day or by night. The Minerva Bath takes you inside, the biggest of the baths giving a nod to the Roman architecture of old, with beautiful pillars and sumptuous curves forming the backdrop.
Whichever pool you choose (why not try them all?) let the bubbling jets, massaging swirls and spinning whirlpools unravel your body's knots and give it a well-deserved pamper. When your fingers begin to prune, take time out in the Aroma Steam Room to give you an invigorating warm-down, topping your day off.
Bath Abbey has the opulence and beauty of a cathedral and as the centrepiece of Bath's city centre, you'll want to spend a few moments taking in the splendour of the 500 year-old building. Gothic gargoyles guard the walls, alongside the famous 'ladder' carving, that shows angels climbing towards heaven, or descending towards hell.
The Circus is perhaps second-only to the Royal Crescent when viewing the extravagant housing tastes of our ancestors in Bath. Inspired by the Colosseum, but in reverse (the Colosseum faces outwards, the Circus inwards) the Circus comprises of three curved segments, of equal size and design. Each facade directly faces an entrance, so that when a visitor happens upon the Circus, he or she will always be facing the ornate frontage of the buildings.
Over 500 varying symbols are sliced into the frieze of the Circus, such as serpents, scientific symbols, Roman emblems and coats-of-arms. Stone acorns stand perfectly spaced and symmetrical around the parapet, lending a surreal feel, and old plane trees stand guard in the central grassy garden.
The Royal Crescent
This sweeping, aesthetically flawless crescent was, and still is, home to the well-heeled gentry over its near 230-year existence and it certainly looks the part. Looking out over Royal Victoria Park, the curved facade of the Crescent is interspersed with 114 ionic columns, each equally spaced, rising to a height of almost 15 metres, and is again constructed of that familiar golden stone. A museum at Number 1 Royal Crescent is restored to exactly how the dandies of the day would have lived, and the imperious Royal Crescent Hotel is found in the centre of the row.