Thermae Bath Spa

Thermae Bath SpaAfter simmering unused for a quartercentury, Bath’s natural thermal springs once again offer R&R for the masses. The state-of-the-art spa is housed in a complex of three buildings that combine historic structures with controversial (and expensive) new glass-and-steel architecture.

Is the Thermae Bath Spa worth the time and money? The experience is pretty pricey and humble compared to similar German and Hungarian spas. Because you’re in a tall, modern building in the city center, it lacks a certain old-time elegance. Jets are very limited, and the only water toys you’ll see are big foam noodles. There’s no cold plunge—the only way to cool off between steam rooms is to step onto a small, un-glamorous balcony. The Royal Bath’s two pools are essentially the same, and the water isn’t particularly hot in either—in fact, the main attraction is the rooftop view from the top one (best with a partner or as a social experience).

That said, this is the only natural thermal spa in the UK, and a chance to bathe in Bath. If you visit, bring your own swimsuit and come for a couple of hours (Fri night and all day Sat-Sun are most crowded). Or consider an evening visit, when—on a chilly day—Bath’s twilight glows through the steam from the rooftop pool.