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Thermae Bath Spa, Bath

Hot Bath Street
England BA1 1SJ
Tel: 44 1225 335 678's insider take:

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.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.