Bath - the alternative to a European city break
1st May 2009
Forget city breaks in Rome or Paris this year with the expense of the Euro, the stress of queuing at airports, or worrying about your carbon footprint. Take a short journey to the beautiful city of Bath where you'll discover all the delights of a continental city culture with stunning architecture, history, heritage and irresistible food and shopping, easily rivalling that of its European counterparts. Here are 5 reasons to choose the elegant Georgian city in favour of a European alternative.
1. UNESCO World Heritage Site
The historic centre of Rome is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, but the entire city of Bath carries the same title due to its rich Roman and Georgian heritage. In Bath you can discover some of the most impressive architectural sights in the world; the Royal Crescent, the Circus and Pulteney Bridge. Bath's architecture is one of its defining features and with around 5,000 listed buildings visitors have plenty of opportunity to marvel at the rows of graceful Georgian townhouses and crescents, grand parades and cobbled side passages, which make Bath a wonderful place to explore and a true feast for the eyes.
Nourished by Britain's only natural hot springs, Bath is a city shaped by its waters. Thermae Bath Spa is one luxury definitely worth indulging in and for just £22 for a 2-hour session it is affordable too. The entire roof is an open-air pool bubbling with warm water where bathers can relax and unwind and gaze across the surrounding city. The Spa also has an indoor pool and four scented steam rooms. Pre-bookable treatments are on offer, from luxurious thermal treatments and body wraps to relaxing massages and facials, all in the most beautiful of surroundings.
Bath is a city that was built around hospitality and has enjoyed an excellent reputation for food ever since. The West Country is one of the UK's richest farming areas so fresh produce is very much a feature of the area. Freshly caught fish, locally grown fruit and vegetables, hand made cheeses and organically reared meat are all readily available. Bath's success for great food is evident with celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall opening up restaurants here, and Michael Caines taking over as Executive Chef at one of the top hotels in Bath, the Bath Priory. For those late summer evenings or lazy afternoons, it's easy to find a picturesque location to enjoy alfresco dining. Bath has plenty of cafes and restaurants with outdoor eating areas so visitors can really enjoy a true European dining experience. Bath also has an impressive number of food outlets selling local and delicious produce including cheese shops and delicatessens, so pack up a hamper and head to Royal Victoria Park, with the beautiful Royal Crescent as its backdrop, and enjoy the perfect picnic.
Shopaholics can easily get their fashion fix at Bath's Upper Town which is bursting with boutique and designer outlets offering a flavour of the stylish 'Champs-Elysées'. Milsom Place, a chic and recently redeveloped shopping area, features well known brands like Hobbs and Cath Kidston as well as some of Bath's long standing independents such as Quadri with its Alessi collection, AH Moda and Image. Just around the corner on Milsom Street is Duo; pioneers of perfectly fitting boots and shoes. Duo is a unique and innovative footwear retailer selling a huge collection of must-have boot styles which are available in up to 21 calf widths. Picturesque Margaret's Buildings is a pedestrianised street located between The Circus and The Royal Crescent and is home to Sassy & Boo - an intriguing boutique selling hip fashion, jewellery and accessories and an original collection of 1920s dresses - and Liz Cox - a landmark shop in Bath with distinctive chenille and leather bags. Nearby Bartlett Street is also home to several well-reputed boutiques including Mee and Toast.
5. Attractions & Galleries
It's easy to soak up the culture of Bath with an exceptional collection of museums, galleries and attractions to choose from. The Roman Baths is always a good place to start and a great introduction to the city. Here, visitors can learn all about the beginnings of this spa town; see Roman artefacts and walk on ancient pavements around the steaming waters of the original baths. Head next door to Bath Abbey and discover one of the last great medieval churches in the country. The Abbey has recently started new tours which take visitors to the very top of the church tower giving an unrivalled bird's eye view of Bath. Whether serious about collecting art or an enthusiastic amateur, Bath has an amazing collection of galleries, many privately owned with unique pieces. There are some 16 galleries in the city and reputedly 200 artists working in or near Bath. Victoria Art Gallery houses work from leading artists from the 15th Century to the present day. It also has one of the best temporary exhibition programmes in the region and is currently showing Sophie Ryder's 'New Sculptures and Wire Drawings' exhibition. Sophie's famous and striking Minotaur and Lady-Hare Torsos are currently on display in the Abbey Churchyard until September and other sculptures can also be seen around the city. Smaller galleries around Bath are equally worth discovering including Nick Cudworth which holds original oil paintings and pastel drawings with stunning scenes of Bath, Beaux Arts on York Street near the Abbey, and Mauger Modern Art which is a commercial gallery showing work from well known artists such as Andy Warhol, Peter Blake and Lucian Freud.
Bath's surrounding countryside is also well-worth exploring. Like Rome, Bath is surrounded by 7 hills and is lucky enough to be on the edge of breathtaking countryside with the Cotswolds, Somerset and Wiltshire all on its doorstep, and within easy reach from the city.
With such a vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere there's no need to head to Europe to enjoy a city break full of history, heritage and culture. Plan a visit to Bath instead and enjoy some of that continental feel right on your doorstep!
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Notes to Editors:
For further information or images to illustrate this information, please contact Lucy Weaver at Bath Tourism Plus on 01225 477441 or email: email@example.com
Bath Tourism Plus
Working with the public and private sectors, Bath's destination marketing organisation, Bath Tourism Plus, takes full responsibility for co-ordinating the work of a busy tourist information centre, the marketing of Bath and the surrounding area to leisure and business travellers, PR activity to attract the nation's top travel writers, a conference office, and development of Bath's official destination website www.visitbath.co.uk. For more information about the services that Bath Tourism Plus offers to meetings, conference and incentive travel businesses, see www.bathconference.co.uk
Travel to Bath
Bath is easy to access from all over the UK and the world. High speed, direct train services operated by First Great Western link Bath Spa train station to London and its major airports. Bath Spa train station is well situated, just 5 minutes level walk into the city centre's main shopping and tourist areas. See: www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk . Bristol International Airport is just 15 miles from Bath and operates direct flights from New York and Orlando in the USA, as well as most major European and UK airports. An express bus service to Bristol Temple Meads train station operates throughout the day, and Bath is just a 20 minute train journey from there. See: www.bristolairport.co.uk . Bath is also easy to access by car, from junction 18 of the M4 motorway which links Bath to Bristol, London and South Wales. There are 3243 pubic car parking spaces in Bath with the main long stay car parks at Charlotte Street and Avon Street. There are three Park & Ride services on the outskirts of the city which operate fast, frequent services into the city centre, offering a hassle free, cost effective way of reaching the city centre. There is also a Park & Ride service that operates on Saturdays only from the University of Bath.