Britain’s Finest Georgian City and an Exquisite Country Retreat
A spa destination for centuries after the ancient Romans discovered Britain’s only hot water springs here, Bath was later made fashionable by Queen Anne, who rediscovered its therapeutic waters in 1702, launching its rebirth as England’s premier spa town.
The flourish of 18th-century architecture that followed—sweeping crescents and terraces, noble squares, stately homes of honey-colored Bath limestone—transformed Bath into what is today Britain’s most perfectly and beautifully preserved Georgian city.
Relaxed, refined, and prosperous, the city is a gracious host: no one seems to come for the waters, but rather to relive the epitome of the 18th- century good life while enjoying a taste of today’s best antiquing, shopping, and dining.
The city’s historical heart is at the Roman Baths, Britain’s finest ancient Roman ruins. Overlooking them are the 16th-century Bath Abbey and the 18th-century Pump Room, a noted watering hole and restaurant, where you can still sample the mineral waters from a running fountain, and one of the greatest temples to old-fashioned teatime anywhere.
The Circus is one of Bath’s most spectacular sites, thirty-three subtly differentiated limestone houses forming a huge Colosseum-inspired circle designed by John Wood, the Elder, orchestrator of Bath’s architectural golden days. In 1775 his son designed the nearby, equally spectacular Royal Crescent, a huge semi-ellipse of thirty identical stone town houses overlooking Royal Victoria Park on what is hailed as the most majestic street in Britain.
Bath’s most elegant hotel, the Royal Crescent, is housed in two Georgian town houses. Bath’s heyday is celebrated here in all its patrician glory, so stop by, if only for tea.
After sightseeing in town, retire to Ston Easton Park, a stately Palladian mansion of ocher-colored Bath stone. With an Elizabethan shell gracefully rebuilt in 1740, Ston Easton has recently been exquisitely refurbished.
It is a period gem of the highest order, a delight for those seeking an unforgettable country retreat reflecting the lifestyle described by Jane Austen. The nouvelle fare offered in the lovely restaurant overlooking the river valley is inspired, and the romantic 26-acre parkland was designed by Humphry Repton in the 18th century.