When it comes to old spa towns, we’ve got more hanging around here in the UK than might at first meet the eye. It’s usually all about Bath, which means that prices to visit this pretty town have skyrocketed. And looking at the old bank balance, it’s not getting any more likely that I’ll be able to afford an overnight stay here in the near future. So. Where do you go to experience the same great architecture, along with stylish modern trappings like café living? The answer is in the title – explore some of the UK’s other great spa cities!
This spa town in West Yorkshire is full of Victorian architecture, as it was the Victorians who made this a popular holidaying spot. Today the attractions include the annual floral displays that adorn the town centre as well as a Bettys Tea Room and a Marco Pierre White Restaurant. The Manor House is a museum and gallery whilst Ilkley Moor is a stunning place to get a breath or two of fresh air.
Droitwich in Worcestershire became a spa town thanks to the incredible saltiness of the local water – it’s 10 times saltier than the Red Sea! The Droitwich Spa Lido was built in the 1930s to take advantage of the waters’ beneficial properties, and after renovation re-opened in 2006. It features an art deco interior and boasts of being the ‘seaside inland’. Elsewhere, attractions include the Chateau Impney, the High Street and Great Witley House.
To use its full name of Royal Leamington Spa, this Warwickshire town became popular in the 19th Century with the opening of the Royal Pump Rooms and Baths, today a hub of culture in the town. The Town Hall is a grand Victorian design, complete with Queen Victoria statue outside – it was moved an inch by a bomb blast in WWII! A stroll down the High Street and a visit to neo-classical Lansdowne Crescent is a must, whilst All Saints Church is a gothic masterpiece, rivalling many cathedrals in size!
This Welsh spa town in Powys was also developed in the 19th Century, and this legacy is still definitely on show today. Despite the fact that the Rock Park and Pump House Hotel – where the wealthy came to enjoy the spring waters – is no longer in existence, the town centre is full of Victorian and Edwardian charm. Head to Rock Park for the sculptures and Albert Hall for culture, and visit for the annual Llandrindod Wells Victorian Festival in August to really revel in the history.
One of the country’s oldest spa towns, the healing limestone and sulphur waters were touted as long ago as 1774! The Royal Hotel was once the centrepiece of the attractions, although today it’s converted into flats. Georgian architecture abounds so we advise plenty of street strolling and many stops in the cosy local pubs. This is a great pretty location to stay in when visiting York, the Yorkshire Moors and Yorkshire Dales.
Plan your UK break here and explore some of the beautiful spa towns without the high prices and busy crowds.