Drifting at sunset in a rooftop, open-air pool, in waters naturally heated – more than a mile underground – to 91F (33C), is one of the rarest pleasures in Britain.
Thermae Bath Spa (www.thermaebathspa.com), a great glass cube of a building next to Bath Abbey, opened in 2006 to recycle raindrops that fell here 10,000 years ago.
This is indulgence not to be rushed. A range of packages, starting at two hours, give you the run of the complex, including the Minerva Bath, the Rooftop Pool, and the Steam Rooms. Treatments are an optional extra. The top ticket is the Twilight Package, three hours including a meal for £42.
The glorious vision of Bath’s 18th Century designers would impress a time-travelling Roman emperor. They used golden stone from local quarries for everything, and today’s builders must follow suit.
Their two masterpieces are the Royal Crescent, a great curving grandstand of townhouses overlooking a sloping green, and the nearby Circus, a circular street mimicking Rome’s Colosseum.
The open-top bus tour is a good way to link these splendid landmarks. But I preferred a quiet route to the city centre – chancing upon cafes, restaurants and specialist shops – past Milsom Street’s designer shops to another Bath wonder,
Pulteney Bridge, Britain’s answer to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence.
Bath was a starring location in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Jane lived there from 1801 to 1806. Her characters came for bonneted sophistication, gossip, the efficacious waters – and to bump into eligible men on city centre pavements.
Retailers remain in her eternal debt for her line: ‘There are so many good shops.’ The Jane Austen Centre (www.janeausten.co.uk) does a fine job charting her life here, including her own near-miss with matrimony. And you can follow Jane around with a free audio walking tour.
The city’s main claim to fame is its Roman spa, set over the miraculous, warm waters that oozed endlessly up from the swamp that was Bath. The free audio player you get in the museum at the Roman Baths (www.romanbaths.co.uk) does a great job explaining how the entire baths complex once looked.
It’s amusing to learn that there were rule-breakers even then: ‘Always someone jumping in with a tremendous splash,’ wrote Seneca.
The best-known object in the museum’s collection, the Gorgon – a mythical creature with snakes for
hair – packs power, but my biggest tingle came before the bronze head of Minerva, once mother goddess in these parts.
If there’s time, fit in the American Museum, the (free) Victoria Art Gallery, and the Fashion Museum in the Assembly Rooms.
As you would expect in such an elite destination, there are lots of good restaurants and tea rooms – the illustrious Sally Lunn’s waist-popping toasted buns (www.sallylunns.co.uk) are a real treat.
But the talk of the town is a new two-floor gastro pub, Hall & Woodhouse Bath (www.hall-woodhouse
bath.co.uk). The brewer took over a city-centre auction room and fitted it out with a big brass bar in the style of the Long Bar at the Raffles hotel in Singapore, fronting an open kitchen, and a wide central staircase fit for a Thirties Busby Berkeley musical.
It’s all behind huge ‘Why not come in?’ windows. Try, too, the intimate The Hole In The Wall (www.theholeinthewall.co.uk), where the menu is ‘modern British’.
My stand-out smoked wild pigeon breast, and gingerbread and Dorset Blue Vinney terrine with slow-baked plums, came on a slate plate.
Many world heritage sites allow you only to look on in wonder. In Bath, where the entire old city has the Unesco designation, you may savour the splendour from the inside.
I stayed at the Queensberry (www.thequeensberry.co.uk), four terrace houses in Russel Street fused into a boutique hotel, which has lots of changes of level leading to interesting lounges and secluded rear patios.
My roomy bathroom (double shower, free-standing bath) was as big as my bedroom. They are very green: you get £20 off if you come by public transport. Room-only rates from £123.50 a night. Dinner, bed and breakfast from £215.
Bath is such a beautiful city all year round, but there’s something quite magical about Bath in the summer. Especially when there are festivals taking place!
Now – 17th April
Laugh out loud at the annual comedy festival. There’s a mix of stand-up, cabaret, music, kids shows and more!
Weekends in May
Meet over 180 artists and makers as they throw open their studios and showcase their artwork and put on interactive demonstration.
19th – 28th May
The new 10 day festival is packed with fantastic live music, authors and family fun. It all starts with Party in The City, Bath’s biggest free night of music.
26th May – 11th June
Featuring theatre, dance, music, visual arts, comedy, a children’s festival, street theatre and lots more – expect the unexpected!
27th May – 5th August
Relax and enjoy a summer season of picnics, proms and performances in the exquisite gardens of Iford Manor.
29th June – 2nd July
A fantastic forest and outdoor gallery will be popping up around the Bath Skyline. For four days, there will be artwork, outdoor theatre and creative activities for all.
A brilliant one day cycling event with three different challenges to take part in. Jump on your bike for a 25, 50 or 80 mile route around Bath and the surrounding countryside.
The infectious beat of the drums will be thumping again this July when the colourful carnival comes to town. There’ll be live music, parades, kids activities, workshops and plenty of food and drink.
5th -13th August
This nine day festival will have you tapping your feet to Americana, gypsy jazz, world and folk. Enjoy gigs, concerts, open mic, free ceilidh and a variety of workshops.
2017 marks 250 years since the first foundation stone was laid on the Royal Crescent, on 19th May 1767. We’ll be celebrating with over 70 special events and exhibitions throughout the year.
We have had the privilege of having University of Bath Alumni stay with us at the Windsor Guest House for the 30 year reunion. This was particularly exciting as one of our Duty Manager’s is currently studying at the University of Bath and just so happens to be doing the exact same course (Modern Languages and European Studies) as all of them did!
It has been wonderful to hear all about their time at the University, but also how much Bath has changed in the last 30 years.
The Windsor Guest House is also constantly changing to make itself the perfect place to stay by adding new delicious food options to our wonderful A La Carte menu for breakfasts and amping up our reception area so you can have a pre-dinner drink from our fully stocked bar.
So make sure you stay with us when you visit Bath and we will do everything we can to make sure you have a fantastic experience!
If you need further proof, just take a look at some of our TripAdvisor reviews!
The Windsor in Bath is a great place to stay. The accommodation is beautifully decorated and the location to town is perfect.
The staff are extremely friendly and helpful. The breakfast selection was great.
I could not recommend more highly reasonably priced great accommodation close to everything and great staff what more could you ask for.
Thanks to the staff for your help and always service with a smile
A stunning guest house. The staff are exceptional. The room is beautifully appointed. Be prepared to climb some stairs if your on the top floor. But worth the climb. In a very central location. Easy walk to restaurants and local shops. Bath is a wonderful location. Highly recommended.
The Windsor Guest House has upped its game and is now the ideal location for any kind of romantic experience.
Whether you are staying with us to celebrate your engagement, wedding, anniversary or just want to spoil the one you love, we will make sure your experience is the most romantic time of your life.
We will transform any of our rooms into an even more gorgeous setting! Georgiana, our deluxe double with a private garden as decorated to celebrate the wonderful marriage of two of our guests.
Treat yourself to our latest, delicious addition to the A La Carte menu.
Sweet French toast with marbled yoghurt compote and fresh blueberries – a wonderful, flavour-some and nutritious way to start your day.
One of our wonderful chefs has added a new family favourite to our A La Carte menu.
Treat yourself to these light, fluffy and down right delicious pancakes, served with fresh and flavour-full strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Topped with rich, sweet maple syrup and side of thick cream.
We are so pleased that for the 6th consecutive year, we have retained both our 5 star status and our Breakfast Award from Visit England.
Our inspector stayed in one of our Classic double rooms and enjoyed a Continental breakfast followed by Eggs Benedict.
Categories are scored as follows:
Well done to all our chambermaids and man!
As well as our lovely chefs, Niki and Jamie who continue to provide well cooked and beautifully presented breakfasts to all our guests.
As part of the ongoing refurbishment of the public ares at The Windsor, we are currently redecorating our Dining and Reception areas as a way of improving guest experience. A new informal Bar area now sits alongside the Reception area, with a small but well thought list of wines, beers and popular spirits and mixers allows you to sit down and relax with a drink on arrival or during the evening. A small selection of snacks is also available, with our sharing platters proving to be very popular. Redecoration of the Reception room will begin next week with minimal disruption.
Click below to view a clip of the Bath Festival of Light. Enjoyed by all staying with us here at The Windsor, December 2013.
We continue to source the very best of local produce to heighten the guest experience during breakfast. To this end we now serve the very best Organic unhomogenised Milk from local Ivy Farm. These very lucky, spoilt cows graze on clover and grass throughout the year and love the milking process. This wonderful cream coloured milk is how milk used to be and is utterly delicious. Ivy Farms’ milk goes to all the best establishments, being sold and served at Harrods, Fortnum and Mason and Selfridges.