Bath See And Do
England BA2 7BD
Tel: 44 1225 460 503
Eighteen rooms furnished in the manner of the period illustrate how Americans lived from colonial times to the 19th century. A permanent exhibit (opening in spring of 2007) will focus on artifacts of the time, such as war weapons. Claverton Manor is worth a visit in its own right, with gardens modeled on George Washington's at Mount Vernon, and gorgeous views over the Limpley Stoke Valley.
Closed Mondays and October—March. Open daily in August.
England BA1 1LT
Tel: 44 1225 422 462
A church has stood on this plot of land next to the Roman Baths since the eighth century, though the current exterior dates from the 15th century—commissioned by God, says the legend, to bishop Oliver King in a dream. Edgar, one of England's first kings, was crowned here over 1,000 years ago. Note the angels climbing Jacob's Ladder on the restored West Front.
Open mainly for services on Sundays.
Great Pulteney Street is the longest, widest, grandest Georgian street in Bath, and part of a great scheme that was never completed. Consequently, its side streets lead nowhere and are almost comically short. Past Laura Place at its western end is shop-lined Pulteney Bridge, England's answer to the Ponte Vecchio and the great Robert Adam's contribution to Bath.
England BA1 1LZ
Tel: 44 1225 444 477
Built by Thomas Baldwin and John Palmer in the late 18th century, the elegant Pump Room is a great place to take tea and get a taste of Georgian Bath. In Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen wrote: "With more than usual eagerness did Catherine hasten to the pump-room the next day...Every creature in Bath...was to be seen in the room at different periods of the fashionable hours; crowds of people were every moment passing in and out, up the steps and down..." The scene today is just as chaotic, but hordes of retirees and teens with iPods hardly have the same stylish effect.
England BA1 1LZ
Tel: 44 1225 477 785
One of the best-preserved Roman sites north of the Alps comprises a temple that was built over a sacred spring, plus a great bathhouse that attracted visitors from all over the Roman Empire. You can see some of the 12,500 coins they offered to the goddess (Britain's largest votive deposit) in the museum here. Also on view: the largely intact Roman plumbing and drainage system and the atmospheric, green, and murky Great Bath with its Victorian colonnades. It's next door to the new Bath Spa. After you visit, take tea in the Pump Room.
1 Royal Crescent
England BA1 2LR
Tel: 44 1225 428 126
Designed by John Wood the Elder and built by John Wood the Younger, this masterpiece is an awe-inspiring curve of 30 houses anchored over 538 feet by 114 Ionic columns. It was built to be approached from Brock Street, the angle of which shields the crescent from view until the last minute, for maximum drama. Number 1 is a museum.
Only slighly less grand than the Royal Crescent is the adjacent Circus, a massive Georgian traffic circle that was once the nucleus of Bath. Built by John Wood the Younger from his father's plans, it features a frieze and three tiers of impressive double columns.
Hot Bath Street
England BA1 1SJ
Tel: 44 1225 335 678
The thermal springs are the reason Bath exists. Over 264,000 gallons of 113° water rise through a geological fault called the Pennyquick every day, though its source remains a mystery (recent hi-tech attempts to locate it notwithstanding). It's been claimed that the mineral-rich waters aid maladies ranging from arthritis and rheumatic disorders to asthma and infertility. They've been considered curative for as long as 10,000 years—nobody knows exactly when the ancient Celts discovered the springs, but we know they established here a shrine to their goddess Sul (later co-opted by the Romans who fused her with their own medical goddess, Minerva).
After almost 28 years of closure, the area around the springs was renovated and reopened to the public in 2006. The ancient Celts' sacred Cross Bath is one of five heritage buildings incorporated into the new complex, the centerpiece of which is the New Royal Bath: a glass-walled edifice containing a great Bath stone cube (designed by Nicholas Grimshaw, architect of the Eurostar terminal at London's Waterloo Station). Inside are various pools and showers and baths and steam rooms; the pièce de résistance is a warm rooftop pool from which you can admire the adjacent abbey. Alongside the traditional taking-of-the-waters and bathing facilities, there are long menus of modern spa treatments.