Bath tales: exploring the city of Bath and The Gainsborough Bath Spa
The city entrances with culture, history, art and performances — all the right the ingredients for a rewarding weekend trip.
“Bath is the worst place to get any work done,” so remarked the humanist British politician William Wilberforce in the 19th century. The city, embedded in the rolling hills of Somerset, has a history dating to AD 60 when it was a Roman colony, regaled for its healing waters attributed to the blessings of the goddess Minerva. These famed springs containing over a million litres of mineral-empowered waters have healed both kings and commoners.
Today, Wilberforce’s view holds even greater sway. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city pulses with thriving culture, arts, theatre and food scenes, attracting local and international visitors to its compact, cobblestoned pathways lined with charming shops, cosy cafes and notable restaurants. Also in the area is the city’s only luxury hotel The Gainsborough Bath Spa and its Spa Village, both of which have placed Bath on the radar of travellers who expect only the best.
The Grade Ii-listed 99-room hotel and its spa, named after the artist Thomas Gainsborough, comprises a quartet of former hospital structures — Bellott’s and Royal Hospital Building — that offers exclusive access to the city’s famous healthful thermal waters.
Room interior design is the work of New York-based Champaulimaud Design, combining subtle tones of grey and white that frame upholstery with hints of bucolic English country scenes. Amenities range from a high-tech selection of ipod docking stations, flatscreen HD televisions, retro Roberts radios with Bluetooth connectivity, complimentary WiFi, and for guests’ comfort, radiant-heated bathroom floors.
All guests have access to the thermal pools at Spa Village. Known as the Bath House
ROOM INTERIOR DESIGN IS THE WORK OF NEW YORK-BASED CHAMPAULIMAUD DESIGN, COMBINING SUBTLE TONES OF GREY AND WHITE THAT FRAME UPHOLSTERY WITH HINTS OF BUCOLIC ENGLISH COUNTRY SCENES.
experience, it involves a sequence of natural thermal pools with differing temperatures, infrared and conventional saunas, a steam room, an ornate ice cove and spaces designed for unwinding while sipping a custom-created traditional Georgian hot chocolate peppered with cloves and chilli.
The treatment rooms are elegantly appointed in sophisticated shades of grey. Opt for an invigorating Ginger Renewal treatment, composed of a body exfoliation using ginger and minerals; a neck, shoulder and back massage using ginger oil and hot stones to unknot kinks; and ending with a warm body wrap to seal in all the healing and nurturing properties of ginger.
Beyond the spa, the city and its cultural attractions beckon. In summer, Bath switches on its considerable charms with events such as the Iford Arts Festival, held at Iford Manor’s Peto Gardens with opera performances in English, concerts and proms. In mid-july, visitors descend on the city for the annual Bath Carnival. This year’s theme takes on a South American rhythm, complete with a Mardi Gras procession.
During the second week of September, the city celebrates one of the United Kingdom’s most respected writers. In its 17th year, The Jane Austen Festival is based on a theme from Northanger Abbey, published in 1817 and set in Bath. Among the planned activities are tours, theatre productions and book readings.
For a dose of culture and history from a different time, the American Museum is the only museum outside the United States displaying America’s multi-textural art forms. Located in Claverton Manor, the museum features exhibits such as the Jazz Age: Fashion and Photographs, taking place until 28 October. Besides the work of photographer James Abbe, who captured the modern world’s initial fascination with celebrities, the show includes displays of fashion objects from 1919 to 1929.
Bath is, indeed, a place where one gets little work done, though its distractions are invariably more welcoming that what Wilberforce imagined two centuries ago.
For more information, please visit www.thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk
The beautiful city of Bath hosts some of the finest museums and attractions in Europe, including the Roman Baths (right and below right) and Bath Abbey (below left).