The best spa towns in the UK

Bath, photo by Ian Muttoo

The health benefits of British mineral springs have been supposedly discovered by the Romans, who promptly put them to good use and built thermae where they could indulge in the healing and relaxing properties of these precious waters. These mineral springs were the spark that gave rise to Britain’s many spa towns, which have been immensely popular for the past several centuries. While the baths were the territory of the rich in the 18th or 19th century, nowadays they can even be part of a regular budget trip. So next time you’re in the UK, try the benefits of the mineral waters yourself and you might be surprised! Here are the best spa towns in the UK.

Bath, Somerset

Bath is the quintessential British spa town, lauded for its touristic potential for ages. Even in the times of Jane Austen the wealthy went to Bath to cure their ails and to socialize. But today, perhaps one of the most interesting attractions in Bath are the extremely well preserved Roman baths, which are even better then the ones in Rome. The city itself is a Unesco World Heritage Site, so it is a joy to walk around.

Harrogate Spa, North Yorkshire

Harrogate Spa Pump Room, photo by s*t*e*v*i*e

Harrogate is a picturesque town with sights such as the EHS Harlow Carr gardens, and the famous Betty’s Tea Rooms, and the cherry on the cake is the Victorian Turkish Bath where the English gentility spent their time in the past. The Royal Pump museum will offer you a glimpse of the city’s interesting past and stories.

Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

Leamington was small village until the 18th century, and it would have remained so if two physicians hadn’t discovered the healing springs that allowed the town to go through an incredibly rapid development, turning it into a bustling spa town soon after. The Royal Pump Rooms and Baths is now a very interesting museum and art gallery, and even though they don’t function anymore as a spa, Leamington is still one of the best spa towns in the UK.

Buxton, Derbyshire

Buxton, photo by Smabs Sputzer

Buxton is the only other town besides Bath to be given the Roman title of Aquae, and the warm mineral water found here were though to have been a gift from the goddess of Spring. You can taste the water in the Pump Room, but there are some other attractions in Buxton as well, like Poole’s Cavern, a magnificent limestone cave.

Strathpeffer, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland

Strathpeffer is more a village then a town, but although it is a bit out of the way it used to be very famous for its healing spring water. The marks of Regency and Victorian eras, as well as the special charm of the Highlands are plainly visible in this village, and the beautifully restored historic Spa Pavillion looks better then ever.

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