An overdue visit to Bath

I first visited the UK back in 2007. I spent almost a month in the country (almost half of that in London) in the traditional Australian way; I wanted to get my feet wet there before diving into the seemingly strange and foreign continental Europe.

About three weeks in, I came to a realisation. With one Aussie dollar getting me only forty pence, I was going through my savings fast. As a result, I wasn’t eating properly, I was staying at quite dodgy places and I was skipping sites because of the cost. Begrudgingly I cut out about a week in southern England and Wales, with the biggest casualty being Bath. I made for ‘proper’ Europe, and never really looked back.

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The stately Royal Crescent, Bath.

So this visit to Bath, seven years later, felt quite overdue. I had heard nearly universal praise from visitors to Bath, which is quite unheard of, really. Big, well-known cities like Paris and Bangkok divide travellers, yet everyone seems to love little old Bath. With a few little adjustments, we managed to tack a few hours in Bath onto the end of our southern England road trip before we flew out of Bristol.

With limited time, we made a beeline for the Roman Baths. Even though I’m an historian, I don’t actually know a hell of a lot about the Romans. I haven’t even seen Gladiator, much to many other tour guides’ disgust. But I still wanted to see Bath’s number one historical site; I’d seen so many pictures over the years which made it look just wonderful.

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The stunning roof above the entrance to the Roman Baths Museum.

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The iconic Grand Bath.

And I wasn’t disappointed. I was thinking that the attraction was simply the main bath you see in so many pictures, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an entire bathing complex and temple, built up over around three hundred years from 60 AD until the Romans’ eventual decline. Excavations have uncovered cold baths, warm baths and hot baths, plus plenty of other rooms.

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One of the lesser-known baths.

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An amazing architectural find – the original entrance to the temple at Bath.

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The Romans’ version of central heating.


We wandered around for ages, and I was really impressed with the the whole experience put together by the museum. Along with the (normally shockingly boring) regular audio commentary you could even choose a kiddie option, or even Bill Bryson. You could get really close to the Grand Bath’s water (though not in it, as the water is actually quite toxic) and even drink some of it. It kind of tasted like a warm version of that liquid they give you at the dentist.

We pushed on through Bath. We also visited Bath Abbey; the lovely, light-filled church that was surprisingly free to enter. It was a happy, friendly-feeling church which was so different to so many of England’s serious, dark Gothic churches. I gave it a big tick of approval.

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Bath Abbey from the outside (the Roman Baths are just next door).

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Inside Bath Abbey.

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Bath Abbey from the Roman Baths. The statues were added about a hundred years ago.

We had the most perfect weather; it was probably the loveliest day we’ve had so far this year. So we pounded the pavement, marvelling in the fact that Bath just matches. Strangely enough, I kept thinking that you could be forgiven for forgetting that you were in England. The town’s architecture often reminded me of France, and Bordeaux in particular.

Whatever the inspiration, Bath is gorgeous. It’s as if the whole town (and it is a town, with only 80,000 or so residents) has been designed by Trinny and Susannah. On such a lovely day, the stone buildings seemed almost to glow. I couldn’t see any graffiti or even street art, there were no visible junk shops or even old cars. Everything was easy on the eye, refined and tasteful.

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One of Bath’s little streets that I found felt very French in style.

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The Circus.

It was different to what I am used to. My hometown of Melbourne is well-known for its street art and brown ‘upside-down’ river. Living among the Dutch for the last few years, I’ve gotten used to bikes flung everywhere and scruffy hippies tumbling out of coffee shops.

Bath was like a magazine cover in comparison.

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One of Bath’s perfectly manicured parks.

Nowhere did I feel this more than near the Royal Crescent. The 230-year old row of terraced homes is so elegant, completely matching on the front and a jumble of all sorts of individual designs at the rear. The lawn in front is accessible to residents only, a key to the low fence clearly a prized possession. The plebs were all kept a hundred metres or so back, cut off by a small ditch.

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One of the most sought-after addresses in England.

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All very matching. (Try and figure out which door is the entrance to the hotel.)

It was a perfect example of ‘oh, England’; the way we of European descent can look back at the old country and shake our heads at the old fashion-ness of it all.

My parents though were lucky enough to be staying at the Royal Crescent Hotel; an anniversary present to themselves. Paul and I got to peek in before we hopped on our easyJet plane and oh my, it was certainly a case of how the other half lived. The hotel is so exclusive that it doesn’t even have a sign outside identifying itself so Mum had to inquire with a very well-dressed gentleman if she was indeed in the right spot. The man who showed us all around had the poshest accent I’ve heard save for the royals on telly. Oh, and Hugh Grant. I’ve always thought he sounds really posh.

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The picture-perfect gardens behind the Royal Crescent Hotel.

Bath is wonderful, so believe everything you’ve heard about it. I only had a taster; half a day was all I had to discover the place. It is an absolute gem and I know I’ll be back.

Next time though, I’ll wear my pearls.

Each Sunday I’ve been connecting with some other travel blogs through #SundayTraveler. Click the below link for some other great stories through

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31 Responses to An overdue visit to Bath

  1. Agness May 8, 2014 at 1:06 AM #

    Although I’ve never been there, this city looks extremely beautiful and charming. Look at this garden behind the Royal Crescent Hotel, ah! I wish I had a lunch there. The weather’s so lovely!
    Agness recently posted..Postcards from IndonesiaMy Profile

    • Caitlyn May 12, 2014 at 9:26 PM #

      The weather was perfect, we were so lucky!

  2. Corinne May 8, 2014 at 8:27 AM #

    Caitlyn, I think so many of the English towns are fun to wander around, but throw in some Roman junk and hey, you’ve got a winner! I haven’t been to Bath in years, but I remember enjoying it.
    Corinne recently posted..MICA Building SingaporeMy Profile

    • Caitlyn May 12, 2014 at 9:26 PM #

      Haha you’re right! I think Bath would still be worth a visit even without the baths.

  3. Sammi May 12, 2014 at 3:00 PM #

    I so love Bath, it is just the perfect place. I’m glad the weather was good for you whilst you visited, too, it does make such a difference. I think people visiting think it’s difficult to get to, but it’s connected to London through Paddington, and it is just so wonderful. I think everyone should visit, and I’ll carry on doing so every spare day I get!
    Sammi recently posted..Checking out Checkpoint Charlie #SundayTravelerMy Profile

    • Caitlyn May 12, 2014 at 9:39 PM #

      It looks really easy to get to! It was super easy for us to get to Bristol Airport afterwards, so it would be easy to fly in just for a weekend.

  4. Magpie Groupie May 13, 2014 at 11:08 AM #

    Make sure you stay at the Royal Crescent next time Cait- I can recommend it. Just remember to pack your bathers!

    • Caitlyn May 17, 2014 at 8:11 PM #

      I am sure you can recommend it! I will start saving now.

  5. Molly S May 25, 2014 at 4:40 PM #

    Looks wonderful! I’ve never been. I had wondered whether the baths would be worth it, but it seems that they are :). Thanks for sharing!
    Molly S recently posted..A Dream Trip Through TimeMy Profile

    • Caitlyn May 27, 2014 at 7:50 PM #

      Absolutely, and it just helps that the city is wonderful too :)

  6. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo May 25, 2014 at 6:35 PM #

    I’ve never been to Bath but have only heard good things too. What luck to have such perfect weather!
    Phoebe @ Lou Messugo recently posted..Silent Sunday – 25 May 2014My Profile

    • Caitlyn May 27, 2014 at 7:53 PM #

      I couldn’t believe how lovely the weather was! I don’t usually have such good luck :)

  7. Dave Cole May 25, 2014 at 7:02 PM #

    I might need to go for the Bill Bryson commentary alone! Your shots are really nice, Caitlyn – the roof looks beautiful and you captured the city very well. Isn’t it nice to hit a place you missed and have such a cool experience?
    Dave Cole recently posted..Hiking Wenchi Crater Lake, EthiopiaMy Profile

    • Caitlyn May 27, 2014 at 8:00 PM #

      Thanks so much Dave! I agree – I wish I could have Bill Bryson commentate everything in life!

  8. Emma May 25, 2014 at 7:23 PM #

    I love Bath… It’s one of my favourite cities at home! We are lucky enough to have friends who have an apartment in that famous crescent, we have watched many a concert and firework display from their windows! 😀
    Emma recently posted..Silent SundayMy Profile

    • Caitlyn May 27, 2014 at 8:01 PM #


  9. Ace CB @ Life in Dutch May 25, 2014 at 7:27 PM #

    Oh, it really does look like a magazine cover! Looks like an amazing visit, and quite different from the Dutch city landscape!
    Ace CB @ Life in Dutch recently posted..#SundayTraveler: Tilburg’s Hasseltse KapelMy Profile

    • Caitlyn May 27, 2014 at 8:02 PM #

      Totally different from Holland! Especially with there being such nice weather, I wasn’t used to that 😛

  10. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey May 25, 2014 at 8:29 PM #

    LOOK.AT.THAT.WEATHER! Wowzers lady you got lucky. Pearls or no pearls you took some fab shots! Big thanks for linking up with us for #SundayTraveler again.
    SJ @ Chasing the Donkey recently posted..Where the mountain greets the sea: Starigrad PaklenicaMy Profile

    • Caitlyn May 27, 2014 at 8:03 PM #

      Thanks SJ! I must say I wouldn’t mind wearing some pearls every so often…

  11. Patricia Storbeck May 25, 2014 at 10:50 PM #

    Cool, I’ve never been to Bath – was it so named, because of the Roman baths, do you think. On my next visit to the UK, I will go there.
    So many places to see, so little time.
    Through your pictures I feel as if I’ve seen it already.
    Thank you. Visiting from Sunday Traveler.
    Patricia Storbeck recently posted..Will you keep this place a secret, SundayTraveler.My Profile

    • Caitlyn May 27, 2014 at 8:03 PM #

      Thanks Patricia! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos :)

  12. Carmens @ CarmensTravelTips May 26, 2014 at 9:19 PM #

    That’s great that you had a chance to go back and visit Bath. It looks like a wonderful place.
    Carmens @ CarmensTravelTips recently posted..A Floating City – Oasis of The SeasMy Profile

    • Caitlyn May 27, 2014 at 8:04 PM #

      Yep, I’m pretty lucky that I got a second chance to go and visit!

  13. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} May 27, 2014 at 6:41 AM #

    You now have me wanting to go to Bath. I’ve never seen a picture of that beautiful dome over the entrance. Why is the water toxic? I assume it wasn’t when people frequented the baths. The rest of the town looks lovely indeed. In my mind, I think it looks very Disney where everything is carefully planned and maintained. I could not spot the hotel entrance at all.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted..Fujiya Hotel: East meets West in the midst of Hakone National ParkMy Profile

    • Caitlyn May 27, 2014 at 8:08 PM #

      Haha that is the point! Apparently the water is toxic because of the old piping system which hasn’t been redone for centuries. A young girl unfortunately died last century when her swimming class was held at the baths, which is so tragic.

  14. Adelina | PackMeTo May 27, 2014 at 7:20 PM #

    I only had a couple hours in Bath and swore to go back one day. I was rushed through the Roman baths, did a quick stroll around the city and whirled around the Royal Crescent on my tour bus. It’s so lovely and I really want to go back.
    Adelina | PackMeTo recently posted..Predjama Castle – Not Your Typical CastleMy Profile

    • Caitlyn May 27, 2014 at 8:09 PM #

      You and me both! I ran around like a mad thing for a few hours, trying to see as much as possible. It’s a lovely city.

  15. frankaboutcroatia May 29, 2014 at 5:13 PM #

    Bath is gorgeous, and you summed it up perfectly: “Bath was like a magazine cover … “. We had friends living in Bath and visited them couple of times. Unfortunately, they’ve moved back to London. No more free accommodation in Bath :)

    • Caitlyn June 2, 2014 at 9:40 PM #

      Ugh that would have been wonderful when it lasted!

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