Bathe with a view
The most famous drawof this elegant city is its World Heritage-status Regency terraces, colonnades and crescents, which have played host to many a film set for adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels. A luxurious way to enjoy them is from the heated rooftop pool of the Thermae Spa, a modern take on Bath’s original Roman baths.
The more adventurous can experience glorious views on the National Trust’s most popular walking trail, the Bath Skyline.
Fast train to London
Bath is so easily reached from the UK’s capital that some locals knowingly call it “west west London”. A 20-minute drive to the M4 junction (and from there 90 minutes to Heathrow airport and two hours to London) makes Bath an achievable commute. It is even easier on the train: from Bath Spa it takes 90 minutes to reach London Paddington.
The line is currently undergoing an electrification project that will introduce Hitachi hybrid trains and cut the journey time by 10 per cent. The estimated completion date is 2019.
A stable investment
In the past five years, prime property prices in Bath have increased 24.4 per cent, while properties in the surrounding area decreased 0.1 per cent. “Bath is a bit of an island,” says Luke Brady, head of Savills’ Bath office. “It is geographically south-west, but economically it is more akin to towns and cities in the south-east [of England].” Popular with buyers from London (one in three people looking at properties worth more than £1m have London postcodes), it has stayed solid at times of UK-wide property wobbles. “In a market downturn, people in Bath don’t move, so it is not price that is affected but turnover. It is an aspirational place to live,” Mr Brady concludes.
Jane Austen has become more or less synonymous with Bath but there is far more to the city’s arts scene than the museum and festival dedicated to the writer. Topping & Company is an addictively atmospheric bookshop with regular readings from top-flight authors.
The Theatre Royal, one of Britain’s oldest and most revered theatres, regularly hosts pre-West End productions and the Bath Festival — an amalgam of the city’s renowned Literature Festival and International Music Festival — packs out the city for 10 days each May.
Babington House et al
Country get aways are temptingly close. Try Babington House, a rural outpost of Soho House & Co, the private members’ club for people in the creative industries, for a refined Sunday lunch.
The Pig near Bath is a cosy Georgian mansion with a “potting shed” spa and kitchen-garden menu. Bath is also underan hour’s drive from Tetbury, a small town renowned as an antiques mecca. Lorfords — two enormous aircraft hangers filled with decorative antiques large and small — is much loved by discerning London designers.
Photographs: LatitudeStock/Alamy; Julian Foxon Photography; MSP Travel Images/Alamy; eye35.pix/Alamy; Philip Pound/Alamy; Justin Black/Alamy
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