Stole this introduction from University of Bath Website.
Bath is a spectacularly beautiful city which stands on the River Avon among the hills of England’s West Country. The city’s compactness and striking architecture – Roman baths and sweeping Georgian terraces – combine to produce one of the most elegant sights in Europe. The ancient Celts, who first inhabited this area, believed that Bath’s hot springs were sacred, but it was the Romans who built the temple and the famous baths – now restored to their original grandeur.
In the early eighteenth century, under the direction of the socialite, Beau Nash, Bath became England’s premier spa town, where the rich and celebrated members of fashionable society gathered to ‘take the waters’ and enjoy its theatres and concert rooms. During this period the renowned architect, John Wood, laid the foundations for a new Georgian city to be built using the honey-coloured stone that gives Bath its mellow and indefinable quality.
However, Bath is far from a fossilised museum piece. Besides the annual Bath Festival – now recognised as one of the most prestigious festivals in Europe – there are countless other arts activities spread over the year. Art is permanently on show at the Victoria Art Gallery, at the University-run Holburne Museum and at many other, more intimate galleries and shops. Bath is also home to the Museums of East Asian Art and Costume.
London is approximately one hour and a quarter from Bath by intercity train, and Bristol is about fifteen minutes away. For those seeking quieter retreats, Bath is surrounded by beautiful countryside, with the Cotswolds to the north, the Mendips to the south-west and, just across the Severn Bridge, the Wye Valley and the Forest of Dean. The coast at Weston-super-Mare or South Wales is also within easy reach.
It really is a small city with The Rec absolutely in the middle. Possibly the closest comparison is Cardiff, with the stadium and train slap bang in the middle, but Bath is much smaller and less spiralled than Cardiff. Apart from all that it is exceptionally rugby friendly!
How to get there.
Your best bet is to fly to Bristol (Ryanair, easyJet) and get a train. It’s only approximately 15 minutes from Bristol Temple Meades to Bath using First Great Western Railways and it is advisable to pre-book as ticket prices can range from around £6 return if you pre-book to £18 return if you leave it to the day of travel. You’ll also need to factor in getting from the airport to the train station and this takes about 30 minutes using the Bristol International Flyer which costs around £9.00 return.
Other options are flying to Cardiff (Flybe, bmibaby) where it’s a 70 – 80 minute train journey to Bath or London Heathrow (bmi, Aer Lingus) where there is a half hourly service from London Paddington for the 90 minute journey to Bath. Definitely book your train tickets in advance in these cases as you can save up to £80 if travelling from London.
If all else fails it is possible to fly to Birmingham (Flybe, bmibaby) or Exeter (Flybe) both of which have a regular train service to Bath. The train journey time is approximately two and a half hours. Again train tickets can be booked in advance from First Great Western.
How to get tickets.
Bath will sell out for Heineken Cup games. Your best bet is through Ulster Rugby and you’ll probably need to be a season ticket holder to stand a chance.
How to get to the ground.
It’s less than 15 minute walk from the train station to The Rec, but it’s easy to find from anywhere in Bath City centre.
If you want to make an afternoon of it Flat-top, our man in Bath, recommends the following nearby pubs.
Sam Wellers – City centre pub with good food and good selections of local beers. Not the cheapest but owned by two Bath season ticket holders and therefore good to support and right next to the Volunteer Riflemans – another good bar.
The Boater – Closest to the ground and definitely a rugby pub. The biggest pub area if a lot of fans expected as most other pubs are small and compact. The Boater has a larger outdoor area so good for meeting groups and next to the entrance to The REC so last minute beer easy here also good place to meet after game if fans split up in ground.
All Bar One – Typical wine bar type pub, very popular and where many bath players go at night, usually too pissed and scruffy after I leave the ground to bother with that one but as I say popular with many.
– Not best selection of beers but cheapest in town other than Weatherspoons (which I would avoid). Of course being in the ground the atmosphere is better than anywhere else and good place to meet rival fans. Downstairs bar is public access from when it opens (two hours before kick-off) and again after the final whistle, being here early will help get a good place on the very busy terrace if that is where your ticket is.
You can find other pub details on the unofficial Bath Supporters website here. Check back nearer the date and we’ll see if there is any special events being organised for Ulster supporters.
Where to Stay.
Again you can find details on the Bath Supporters website but the following are Flat-top’s recommendations.
Bath Waterside Travelodge – Be mindful that there is also a central Travelodge in Bath (really is in the centre and therefore by clubs and pubs so good atmosphere but noisy
). The Waterside is, good value and one of a few that allow one night only stays at the weekend. Most hotels in Bath will have minimum of two nights for weekends. Very close, via the river walk, to the Rec.
The Bath House – One of a hundred guest houses but I had a friend stay and thought it deserved its 4 AA stars. On the Upper Bristol Road so not too far out of town and about £100 per double/twin so sort of reasonable – again bucks the trend by allowing single nights stay.
Aquae Sullis – On the opposite side of the city on Newbridge Road. About a 20 minute walk to town but not too hilly, and being out of town it’s quieter and has off road parking if necessary. Has it’s own bar.
Pulteney Street – Has so many B&B’s and exactly what tourist like, all made of Bath Stone, Grand buildings and brill location. They will charge top whack and probably want two nights as minimum but certainly the “Bath Experience” if that is what you are after.
Accommodation in Bath itself is apparently more expensive than even London, so some may choose to stay out of city and travel in. I would never recommend people staying in Bristol but in truth they have all the big hotel chains that Bath avoid and it is easy to train in to Bath so maybe cheaper options… not really the point in coming to Bath though is it!
After The Match.
It’s well worth hanging around The Clubhouse Bar at the ground. The players meet the fans post-match in the upstairs bar of the clubhouse which is restricted to ticket holders for the first hour after final whistle then open to the public. I have to say I enjoy that part of the day so my recommendation would be to stay in the downstairs bar after the game and wait the hour until they open the upstairs. I would then stay there for an hour or two before going into the city. No problem in any pub with rugby shirts during the day or even at night BUT lots of clubs and late night bars (with doormen) will not appreciate rugby gear after say 7 or 8pm when the clubbers start appearing.
Disclaimer. This guide is about our own personal preferences. Our preferences may or may not correspond to yours. We do not stand over anywhere that we recommend beyond the fact that we have enjoyed them in the past. If there is anything you disagree with or if there is anything you think we should include please contact us here.