There is absolutely no question about this; you cannot bathe in the Roman Baths but people once used to. If you could indeed bathe like the good old days you definitely wouldn’t want to anyway, the water is a not so delicious shade of green and just think of all those naked bodies stewing in the warm waters. Eeks. All bathing aside though, these definitely warrant a visit.
I’m not going to rant on and on about the history of the baths or the surrounding buildings, you have Google for that, but I am going to tell you why you need to join the millions of viewers and get planning your trip.
Firstly if you have been paying attention and of course reading my previous blog posts you will know that I have a not so secret obsessive love for architecture. Bath does not disappoint so why would the Roman Baths be an exception? There is something to be said about the building, dating back quite a few years ago it has a lot of character plastered in to the walls and the stones would tell a good tale if they could talk. From the floor to the ceiling there are so many details to look at you will get dizzy trying to take them all in. Pay special attention to the ceiling in the ticket hall, be warned you neck will get sore but every sore muscle is so worth it.
If the architecture is of no interest to you, you need to rethink this but do not despair because the baths are more than just a beautiful building. Thanks to the audio guides that come in 8 different languages you can be as antisocial as you like! It also just happens to be quite amusing for children too so for the parents out there, be safe in the knowledge that it is definitely a family friendly affair. My personal preference was actually the children’s version of the history. I’m not a fan of just being spoken at in jargon I don’t understand so the child’s version suited me just fine. For those who would like to know each and every historical fact possible then of course there is enough signage and some boring history buff, actually I think it’s Bill Bryson chatting at you on the end of a phone. If that’s your kind of thing then you will not be disappointed, please not this is coming from someone who has no interest in learning history!
If you aren’t interested in neither the history nor the architecture then perhaps you might be in the wrong city! The whole point of Bath is the Roman Baths, if they weren’t so important then the town certainly wouldn’t be called Bath. I can assure you that even though you think you will be bored to tears you won’t. This building is like art, you have to search for what you enjoy but it really is exciting for everyone and I just know you will find something to entertain yourself with. If millions of people visit each year then just think of the people watching facilities but those numbers speak for themselves really! There are plenty of shops to traipse through and even some wishing pools dotted about the place as well. Perhaps you could toss a penny or two in the hopes that your wish for a speedy exit will come true but if 3 small children can be highly entertained for a couple of hours, I am sure you can brave it for a few minutes too. You simply can’t go to Bath without visiting the Baths; it’s almost a sacrilege.
When you have delighted in the waters until you can’t take anymore then feel free to pop in to The Pump Room for a delicious lunch. I didn’t actually sit down for a meal, because we had small children who had no desire to sit there for another hour or so but everything looked and smelled extremely delicious as we walked through. As a fun fact of the day, the water they serve if from the Baths themselves. I am hoping it’s not the green water that you see but from the springs instead. Apparently it contains 42 minerals and is believed to have healing powers, not bad for a glass of water really. They do various high teas, and offer children’s specials as well. If you would like lunch, book ahead because the restaurant always looked busy!
The opening times are quite decent but they do differ from season to season, so make sure you check these first before booking your trips. From what I can see on their ticket pricing you have a few options too. Buying early always saves a few pennies so it is never a bad idea to think ahead. Students also get the much enjoyed discounts so don’t forget to take any student ID cards that you will need. You don’t need much time to make you way around the whole building but plan to spend either a whole morning or afternoon there. I would also try to time it well with a visit to Bath Abbey (see previous post) as they are in the same area. The bus stop for the hop-on-hop-off buses also leaves from close by so you have that option as well.
Keep an eye out for any bargains when booking your hotel rooms or other activities; they do offer package deals and of course family deals too! If you go in summer, you may also be able to go on a later tour where the baths are lit up with torches. Dinner in The Pump Room followed by an evening wandering around a beautiful building really does sound like the perfect way to spend a summer’s evening, and what a city to be spending it in too!
Now that I have done all the major touristy things in Bath, I am really looking forward to heading back there to explore the more local side of such a great British city. Don’t worry; I shall do my best to always keep you posted.
In the meantime, get planning; Bath isn’t going to see itself you know!