Roman Baths & The Pump Room
The highlight here is the Roman Baths (hence the name). About 300 years ago, it was discovered that there were hot springs here that were said to have healing powers. Excavation found that the Romans already knew this from the time of Ancient Rome (before Christ) and had built a large complex of baths and a temple – rivaling Pompeii and Ephesus.
Around the 1700s, the Baths were unearthed, to the surprise of locals and became popular with the English aristocracy. They built the sophisticated Pump Room restaurant overlooking the steaming Baths, and the British elite spent part of their social season here.
Nowadays, you can tour the excavated Baths, which are very well-preserved. Amazing. We spent a couple of hours exploring and listening to a wonderful audioguide – and enjoying the great view of Bath Abbey next door. Then, just as the English aristocracy, we had Afternoon Tea in the famous and elegant Pump Room.
But most special – 4 nights a year during Christmas, the Pump Room hosts a special Christmas Dinner on the terrace of the Roman Baths. They light torches around the Baths and set up tables with a view down into the Baths. Only 20 lucky tables get to dine overlooking the Baths.
We stumbled across this outing on the website a couple months ago and were excited to get reservations. We were a little nervous in case the dinner was OUTSIDE – as it was in the 30s and rainy, but bundled up and were game to try anything for such a special event. But very relieved when they escorted us to an inside table view a view of the main Bath. They probably wondered why we had so many scarves and hats!
We had to go through two security checks to get in and – wow! To have dinner inside a UNESCO World Heritage Site over looking a 2,000 year-old preserved Roman ruin. Just incredible. (Believe it or not, they had turkey for dinner just like us! [Pictures below.]
Our whirlwind weekend in Bath is coming to a close – next stop: back to the Queen Mary 2.