The Romans did it in fine linen towels. Ladies of the Georgian period did it in ankle length dresses. People have flocked to bathe in or ‘take’ the healing waters of Bath since this Spa city, originally called ‘Aquae Sulis’, was first inhabited around 50AD.
But it was the architects of the 18th century who, under the stewardship of Richard ‘Beau’ Nash, played the greatest part in creating the masterpieces that define the city today: Queen Square, The Circus and the Royal Crescent amongst them.
By the 19th century Bath had become the place to ‘see and be seen’ for members of fashionable society. Scenes in several of Jane Austen novels take place at some of the city’s most well known locations including the ‘Assembly Rooms’ and ‘Milsom Street’.
Today Bath has managed to retain its Georgian grandeur whilst forging a reputation as a creative and dynamic city with excellent transport links, popular annual contemporary Arts Festivals, street performers and a vibrant nightlife.
The bad news is that rents in Bath are amongst the highest in the UK outside London. The good news is that Bath has a thriving student population. This means that there are plenty of landlords targeting the lower end of the rental market. Bath is a popular holiday destination for both UK residents and overseas visitors. But if you are careful to avoid peak tourist seasons like summer and Christmas – and also UK school holidays – you should be able to find good value accommodation, especially if you are prepared to stay a little way out of town.
Airbnb has rooms in shared accommodation from £20 a night rising to £50-70 a night for a self-contained apartment. You should be able to negotiate a reduction for a longer rental.
Bath University offers double rooms on campus from £72 a night and often has cheaper shared student accommodation available during vacations.
Hotels and guest houses: Bath has a good range from the Aquaesulis Hotel (just outside the city) from £50 per night for a double room to the central Paradise House Hotel from £130 a night for a double room.
Hostels: There are a number of hostels in Bath including the YMCA which is right in the centre of the city and offers a bed for just £15 a night in a shared – newly re-furbished – dorm.
Bath Evening Chronicle also has a property section where you can search - and also advertise - for property
Bath is a wonderful place to wander around and get lost in. The ‘old’ part of the city is compact and is based around Milsom Street, from where it takes just minutes to walk to the Roman Baths, the Pump Room, the Cathedral, Pulteney Bridge and the Royal Crescent.
The ‘newer’ part of the city, a 15-20 minute bus ride from Milsom Street, dates from the 1960s and is where the train and bus stations are located. The train station is called ‘Bath Spa’.
Trains: From ‘Bath Spa’ you can travel to and from London (just over 2 hours), Bristol, Cardiff, and Exeter and connect with trains that will take you throughout the UK. Excellent news for those looking to work abroad or teach abroad. It is much cheaper to travel after 0930 and before 1600 and it usually pays to book tickets in advance.
Fares and timetables can be found via the link below although this site charges a supplement for booking, so best to buy tickets directly from the station or via the train company’s website.
Buses: Bath is well supplied with buses to transport you throughout the city. Bus stops are usually clearly marked with bus numbers and routes.
Timetables can be found here:
Young people (16-21) and students (of any age if in full time education), including those in Bath to intern abroad, volunteer abroad or study abroad can get a 30% discount on all tickets. You will need a photo ID that includes your date of birth and an international student card if you have one.
BathRider bus tickets allow a week's unlimited travel on all Bath buses (apart from the Park & Ride services and private tours) for £17.50.
The FirstDay ticket offers unlimited travel in and around Bath per day for £4.10 off-peak (after 9am Mon-Fri and Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays)
One of the best ways to spend a Saturday afternoon in Bath is to wander along Milsom Street to the Cathedral and take in (and drop some pennies into the hat of) some of the really excellent musicians and street performers who come out to play at weekends.
But there are many other forms of entertainment to enjoy in this diverse city. If you lucky enough to be in town for any of its Festivals – Literature, Children’s Literature and Music (all usually held in May) you will be able to hear from some of Britain’s leading artistic figures. Some of the events and performances are usually free and student discounts are offered. Check out the site below, there are also opportunities to volunteer abroad here.
Bath also has a small but atmospheric “Theatre Royal”. Its Christmas pantomime is very popular and many productions from London visit Bath as part of their regional tours.
Students receive £1 off ticket prices and there are 40 tickets a day available for £6 at noon on the day of the performance.
No trip to Bath would be complete without a visit to the Roman Baths where you can imagine all those Roman soldiers soaking in the steaming hot springs lamenting been forced to leave warmer shores for the chilly climate of Britannia. Sadly visitors today can no longer ‘take the waters’ as the lead lining in the pools has been deemed a health risk.
Ticket’s start at £14 with a discount for students from abroad.
Eating and Drinking
There is no shortage of opportunities for either of the above in Bath – and the good news is that there are some options that offer excellent value too. Take your pick from the wide range of pubs where you can sample locally produced beers and ciders as well as all the international brands. For more affordable quaffing The Old Green Tea, 12 Green Street is a proper old skool boozer.
Bath doesn’t lack expensive high-end restaurants but it also has some suprizingly interesting cheaper places to eat too. Try Same, same but Different, a tapas-based restaurant which uses only local ingredients (around £10 for a main course) at 7a Princes Buildings (entrance Bartlett Street) or The Raven of Bath, 6-7 Queen Street, renowned for its pies (main course also around £10).
Finally .. for a late night experience check out the dark, dingy and underground (in every sense of the word) music venue Moles, 14 George Street
The bottom line
So what does it cost to live for one month in Bath? If you live in a dorm room at the YMCA and go out - and eat out - rarely, you could do it for £700 but around £1,200 is a realistic budget for someone who wants their own space and to enjoy - at least some of - what this great city has to offer.