Hot Bath: Get perfectly pampered at the UK's finest spa break
UK Holidays & Spa Breaks
The Gainsborough Bath Spa is one of the finest in the UK, says a blissfully rested Nicola Brady.
Set the Mood
Bath is a city known for many things: its honey-hued architecture, rambling cobbled streets, and the ancient thermal springs found underfoot. The Roman Baths are a huge tourist draw, but why simply tour them, when you can dive in yourself?
The Gainsborough Bath Spa is the only hotel in the UK with access to natural thermal waters, which flow into its stunner of a Spa Village. Smooth limestone walls frame the pools, while light floods in from the glass ceiling. You amble between top-notch steam rooms and saunas, pause for a lavender-scented ice scrub, before easing your body slowly into the therapeutic waters.
I've been to plenty of spas in my time but The Gainsborough surely ranks as one of the finest.
The treatments in the Spa Village come with a hefty price tag but oh, are they worth it. I opted for the Malay massage (from £120/€140), a truly blissful therapy that was gentle enough to be relaxing but firm enough to work out some deep knots.
Treatments start with a visit to the Aroma Bar (above), an apothecary of sorts where you sit, donned in the fluffiest of robes, for a consultation.
While you sip on a homemade probiotic juice, your own bespoke aromatherapy scent is created in a silk sachet, ready for you to sniff throughout your journey. It's touches like this that make all the difference.
Pop around the corner and you'll find the Thermae Bath Spa (thermaebathspa.com), Britain's original thermal spa. A session here starts at £35/€41, for which you can drift between floors of pools, steam rooms and saunas.
The rooftop pool is the real winner, where you enjoy views over the city's rooftops while shrouded in the bubbling, steaming waters. Utter bliss.
If you want a walking tour without the slightly cringeworthy guides, download one of the free audio guides from visitbath.co.uk.
Don't skip dinner in the Gainsborough's restaurant (mains from around £24.50/€28.70). There's a vague Asian influence to the menu, which showcases some stellar local ingredients. I'm still dreaming about my plump fillet of lamb, served with a delicate courgette flower and toasted seeds.
For a relatively small city, Bath has several stonkingly good museums. There's free admission at the beautiful Holburne Museum (holburne.org), and The Fashion Museum (fashionmuseum.co.uk) is a must for fans of Austen-era dresses.
Oh, and the Herschel Museum (herschelmuseum.org.uk) is where William Herschel discovered Uranus (no giggling, please). Afterwards, follow your nose to its fudge kitchen.
Staying at The Gainsborough doesn't grant unlimited spa access - entrance is complimentary only from 7am to 9am and 8pm to 10pm, unless you're booking a treatment. Over at Thermae, the steam rooms are looking a little worn around the edges, though they are receiving a hefty renovation this January.
Get me there
Rooms at The Gainsborough Bath Spa (thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk) start at £285/€336, which currently includes a bottle of champagne and a 60-minute spa treatment for midweek stays, if booked directly.
The bedrooms are the epitome of laid-back luxury, with raised, cocoon-like beds, huge windows and heated bathroom floors. The complimentary minibar is seriously well stocked, too.
Ryanair (ryanair.com) flies to Bristol, from which Bath is an hour away by bus (parking in the city is a nightmare, so stick to public transport).