Eight Cultural Things to Do in Bath

Bath is the perfect place for a cultural weekend away.  Not just a UNESCO World Heritage Site but one two times over.  First of all for all those honey coloured buildings that surround you and also, since 2021, as one of the Great European Spa Towns.  Add to that top notch literary connections; Jane Austen lived here and Bridgerton was used as a set for some of Bridgerton. 

Eight Cultural Things to Do In Bath

First things first, there are enough cultural things to keep you occupied for a fortnight in Bath but if you only have a weekend then eight is enough to do without getting home and feeling you need a holiday to recover.

Bathe like a Roman at the Bath Thermae Spa

Early morning rooftop pool Thermae Bath Spa
Rooftop Pool at Bath Thermae Spa

There’s a reason that UNESCO added Bath to the list of top European Spa Towns. People have been going for a spa break in Bath since before the Romans.  At Bath Thermae Spa you can wallow in a naturally heated spring water just like the Romans, unlike them you can do so in a rooftop pool with views over Bath Abbey.  Even better Bath Thermae Spa is owned by Bath Council and so whilst it is luxurious the cost is not expensive.   Luxuriating in naturally warm spring water in the roof top pool is one of the best things I have done, ever.

  • Thermae Bath Spa, Hot Bath Street BA1 1SJ
  • Open: Daily 9am – 9.30pm
  • Admission: Weekday £38, Weekend £43 for a two hour session in both pools and the wellness suite.
  • Booking: is advisable but not necessary
  • What to Bring: Just a swimming costume … towel, robe and flip flops supplied

Take the Waters at the Roman Baths

Bath Roman baths with pool and Bath Abbey behind
Roman baths at Bath

Right next door to the modern spa are the Roman Baths.  Well, we call them Roman but in actual fact it was the Celts that first started wallowing in the waters at Bath, it was the Romans that built  the impressive complex bath complex.  Much rebuilding has occurred since the Romans.  The elegant surroundings on the main pool that we see today were built in the 18th century.  However tempting the water looks …. do not touch and certainly don’t drink it as the water quality today is not what it was in centuries gone by. There is however a special tap for you to draw yourself a cup of spa water to drink … let’s just say that it is an acquired taste.  For a nicer tasting beverage pop into the adjoining Pump Rooms for afternoon tea, you can even buy a baths/tea/brunch combo ticket.

  • Roman Baths, Abbey Church Yard BA1 1LZ
  • Open: Daily 9am – 6pm
  • Admission: Adult £20 (£25.50 weekends) concessions and family tickets available

Pay a call on Lady Danbury at the Holburne Museum

You’ll recognise the Holburne Museum, it is Lady Danbury’s home in Bridgerton.  Whilst seeing the Duke of Hastings is a very remote possibility seeing great art is a certainty.  Gainsborough paintings and Meissen china are the big draws.  Even better there is an excellent garden cafe at the back of the museum.  From time to time there are special exhibitions until 28 May 2022 Tudor Passion and Power has all those Tudor portraits that you remember from school history books.

  • Holburne Museum, Great Pultney Street
  • Open: Daily 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: Adults £12.50 Artfund half price, concessions available

Get Dressed Up at the Fashion Museum

Two women in period costume at Bath Fashion Museum one wearing a top hat
Cultural Wednesday and friend dress up

Bath Fashion Museum can be found in the basement of the Assembly Rooms.  If you love textiles, do not miss the fashion museum.  It skilfully tells the History of Fashion in 100 objects starting in the 1600’s and ending at the present day.  Everything from extravagantly embroidered waistcoats, through delicate pin-tucked undergarments to velvet trousers are on show.  Most thrillingly of all, the dress up clothes come in grown up size.  I confess my friend and I loved this.

  • Fashion Museum Bath, Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street,
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: Adult £10, Artfund, free, concessions available

Seek out Bridgerton Bath

As already mentioned the Hoblburne Museum stood in as Lady Danbury’s house.  You can soak up the Bridgerton vibe elsewhere too.

Assembly Rooms

Bridgerton Ball scenes were filmed at the Assembly Rooms.  You can see why, when you walk in you just want to put your dancing slippers on and twirl around the dance floors at the Assembly Rooms.  They sparkle with extravagant chandeliers and have the been the elegant place to party in Bath since the 18th century.  

  • Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
  • Admission: Free

Visit the Modiste

Well not actually the Modiste, rather The Abbey Deli at 2 Abbey Street right outside Bath Abbey.  Even better you can take afternoon inside the shop.

At home with the Featheringtons

No 1 Royal Crescent was used as the home of Featherington Family in Bridgerton.  No need to stand on the pavement and imagine the interior No 1 is open to the public.  It has been lovingly conserved by the Bath Preservation Trust and is a delightful way to meet a family who have come to Bath for the season.

  • No 1 Royal Cresent
  • Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5.50pm
  • Admission: Adult £11 concessions available

Bath Guildhall 

The Banqueting room of Bath’s Guildhall used to film Bridgerton ball scenes.  It is free to visit, well sort of.  In the main the Guildhall is used for private events.  IF you ask nicely at Reception and IF the room is not being used then you MAY get a quick peak.  If not the same building houses Bath’s market, not so glamorous but interesting all the same. 

Wander around the UNESCO listed streets

Royal Cresent Bath
Royal Crescent Bath

Aimlessly wondering around the honey coloured streets of Bath is a great joy.  During the 18th century three local property developers set about making Bath into one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.  Beau Brummell soon came to take the waters and enjoy the social life and the rest of society followed.  The great curving Royal Crescent is the great set piece but there are squares, parks and streets to be enjoyed beyond that.  Maybe you could theme your stroll with a spot of Bridgerton.  Alfred Street, Bath Street, Trim Street and Beauford Square have all featured in the series.  So pretty is Bath that it has been used as a film set many times the council even has a handy movie map which you can find here https://www.fashionmuseum.co.uk/sites/fashion_museum/files/heritage/Bath%20Movie%20Map.pdf

See Jane Austen’s Bath

Before Bridgerton there was Jane Austen, she lived in Bath for five years.  Both Northhanger Abbey and Persuasion are set here.  You can visit the Jane Austen centre for the full lowdown on Jane in Bath.  If it is real immersion you are after the Cross Bath at the Bath Thermae Spa is where Jane’s brother and father bathed is available for private hire. For the Janeite experience you could attend the Jane Austen Festival which will be held 9 – 18 September 2022. No 1 Royal Crescent does a rather splendid Jane Austen experience on the last Friday of every month

Explore at Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey fan vaulting
Fan Vaulting at Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey is right next to the Roman Baths.  Look carefully at the carvings on the facade  that tell the tale of how Bishop Oliver King had a dream that led him to restore the Norman Abbey in 1499.  Make sure that you go inside as the interior is stunning. Once you are in, look up.  The whole ceiling is covered with the most stunning fan vaulting.  In the aisles the vaulting is from the sixteenth century and in the nave a Victorian restoration, can you tell the difference?  Take advantage of the mirrors that let you examine the vaulting without getting a crick in your neck.

  • Bath Abbey
  • Open: Monday – Saturday 10am – 5.30pm Sunday 1.15 – 2.30pm & 4.30 – 6pm Bath Abbey is a working church and so is sometimes closed to the public for services
  • Admission: Free but a donation is appreciated
  • Tower Tours: £10

Where to Stay in Bath

Bath has been welcoming visitors for centuries and is awash with hotels.  We chose the Francis Hotel that takes up one entire side of Queen Square, one of those Regency squares, right in the centre of town, most important for us it was an hotel in Bath city centre with parking.  Once parked we were within distance of every where that we visited.

HOW TO GET TO BATH

We both drove down the M4, the journey from Surrey took me about two and half hours.  Bath is close the M4 and M5 making it easily accessible from the West Country, Wales and the Midlands.  Trains with Great Western Railway from London Paddington take an hour and half, making Bath perfect for a day trip from London.

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Disclosurer:  Visit Bath provided us with a Press Pass to get into the paid attractions and we were guests of Thermae Bath Spa, all opinions and cake consumption are my own.
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