Despite its name, the city of Bath has not been able to offer visitors a dip in its hot springs the only natural thermal waters in Britain since 1978. That year saw the closure, due to contamination fears, of the city's last Thermae Bath Spa will finally see the city reconnect to its heritage.
Located 180 km west of London, Bath became a fashionable spa town in the 18th century, remaining so until its springs were eclipsed by the fad for sea bathing in the 1800s. Today, the city's fame principally rests on its exquisite Georgian architecture, which has been stylishly incorporated into the new spa alongside modern additions by architect Sir Nicholas Grimshaw. Highlights include an open-air rooftop pool overlooking the town center and glass steam rooms. Taking in these elegant surroundings, it's hard to believe that the project was plagued by problems since construction began in 2000 (a long-running feud between city authorities and contractors saw costs double to around $64 million and completion was delayed by three years) but thankfully, the dust has now settled.
Spa prices range from $35 for a two-hour visit to $82 for a full day. An onsite restaurant featuring the cuisine of Michelin-starred chef Martin Blunos beautifully completes the facility. Reading its healthy menu in the afterglow of a rejuvenating sauna, it remains an utter mystery how the people of Bath were able to forsake their famous springs for so long.