Bath, England

Photo: Arpingstone (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Does your perfect day involve the spa? You like to loosen up in the sauna, open your pores in the steam room, and let your tension float away in the jacuzzi. You book facials, wraps, and massages to refresh your tired skin. Then you sit by the pool with a cup of tea, or sometimes a glass of sparkling wine, and enjoy a few uninterrupted moments of silence. But if you’re such a spa lover, how have you not been to Bath?

As its name suggests, Bath is a spa city. The Romans built the first spas here—to take advantage of England’s only mineral hot springs—more than 2,000 years ago. The spas and the city were expanded to become one of the country’s first tourist destinations in the 18th century. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

Bath is an ideal short getaway. The city sits in South West England along the edge of the River Avon and the limestone Cotswold Hills. London is less than 100 miles—or a 90-minute train ride—away. When you arrive, the first thing you notice is the Georgian architecture. Most of the buildings in the historic center were built with golden Bath stone. World War II air raids heavily damaged the city. But Bath Abbey, the Royal Crescent’s terraced houses, and Pulteney Bridge remain. They surround gorgeous parks. The Roman Baths have been restored, so you can tour the grounds and the exhibits. While more spas have been built to take advantage of the local water’s curative properties.

Photo: The Gainsborough Bath Spa

You actually get to stay right at one of these spas. The new Gainsborough Bath Spa is the city’s only hotel with its own natural thermal spa on site. Two historic buildings, which were once a hospital, were redesigned into a hotel that opened two years ago. The Georgian and Victorian facades, as well as the limestone walls, remain. The spacious rooms now have soaring ceilings and tall windows, though. They overlook the spires of Bath Abbey. Calm colors (blues and grays), cozy fabrics, and printed headboards fill the bedrooms. Complimentary drinks and snacks are in the mini bar. There’s a small cocktail bar, an elegant lounge for afternoon tea, and a locally sourced restaurant downstairs, as well.

But it’s the Spa Village Bath where you’ll be spending most of your time. The two-story spa is in the basement of the hotel. It has three thermal pools, each at a different temperature, that are fed by the natural spring water. There’s a sauna, a steam room, an ice alcove, and a relaxation room. Plus the spa menu features a ginger renewal body therapy, a magnesium wrap, and a Malay massage. You plan to start with the self-guided bathing circuit and go from there.

Just be sure to leave plenty of time to explore the rest of the city. Afternoon tea at the grand Royal Crescent Hotel, a picnic in Royal Victoria Park, and a walk down picturesque Great Pulteney Street are absolute musts. So are a rugby match and Bath Blue Cheese from Bath Soft Cheese Company. There’s also a rooftop pool at the popular Thermae Bath Spa. You might just have to extend your Bath trip to fit everything in. You certainly don’t want to give up any of your spa time after all.

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