Tracking the World Heritage Sites
You know London, but England remains quite a mystery to you? Well let me tell you about my recent weekend trip in the south of the country.
The journey started at London Heathrow airport where I rented a car to be as free as a bird. But believe me, trying to find my way out of the airport, driving on the left side of the road for the first time in my life, was stressful 🙂
It took me about an hour to reach Highclere, a small village, home to the famous Highclere Castle. Highclere Castle being the actual main shooting place of the world famous tv show “Downton Abbey”. I’m a huge fan of the show and I had been waiting for months to finally be able to walk the main alley leading to the castle.
This first night I chose to stay at the Carnarvon Arms Pub & Rooms. A small but very warm hotel only 1km away from the castle. They say some of the actors of the show sometimes slept there. I only spent 81€ for the night and 2 breakfasts, which is very competitive given the quality of services.
In the morning I woke up to 25 cm of snow on the ground and a sunny weather… ideal and very rare conditions to see the castle. After a good old full English breakfast, I hit the road by feet and it took me less than 30 minutes to face the Highclere castle… You cross the huge estate and finally get there, just like you saw it on tv… you can even hear the main theme playing in your head… so iconic. The actual visit that we had planned and booked was cancelled the day before due to the heavy snow which made it dangerous to access the castle by car. So, it all was a bit frustrating, but simply seeing the castle in front of me was recomforting enough. And funny thing we ran into a couple people, one of which was the actual butler of the castle… He looked nothing like Carson but funny enough 🙂
After this reviving moment I drove 50 minutes south west to Stonehenge, the famous prehistorical and World Heritage site with those mystery stones forming a circle. There again, the snow played its part and the scenery was one of a kind.
Last stop on my trip was Bath, one of the most touristic cities in England after London and also a World Heritage site. It is well known for its Roman-built baths, its Rugby team and its universities. There I was lucky to stay at the Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel. A 5-star hotel with charming bedrooms. The hotel benefits from a very nice Spa, a reputed restaurant, a tea room, a snack restaurant and a bar with lovely cocktails. It is about a 20-minute walk from all the main points of interest in the city. Room rates start at 157 € (about £139)
If you ever stop by the city of Bath, you must visit the Roman Baths which is one of the most visited Heritage attractions in the UK. They are remarkably preserved remains of one of the greatest spas of the ancient world. The Baths still flow with natural hot water. Tickets are sold at £14.40 and can go up to £19.80 depending on the time of year and of the week.
One other MUST DO attraction in the city is probably the Thermae Bath Spa. You can enjoy the naturally warm, mineral-rich waters in very modern facilities. From the inside pool called Minerva Bath to the Wellness suite offering beautiful steam rooms and sauna, without forgetting the mind-blowing rooftop pool overlooking the city and the Abbey… You will have an unforgettable moment of relaxation. The entrance is £36 on week days and £40 on the weekends for a 2-hour session. Of course, you can book a treatment with an additional cost.
There are many other places and things to do in the city of Bath. Among them I could recommend that you stop for lunch at Chez Dominique. They serve affordable and tasty French cuisine. You can also treat yourself to the famous Pump restaurant which is part of the Roman Baths building.
Also you may want to visit the Bath Guildhall market, climb up the Abbey tower, take a stroll on the Bath Skyline Walk, or stop at the Bridge coffee shop for some pastries and hot beverages while overlooking the Pulteney Bridge.
Then it will be time for you to return home. Bath is less than 2hr away from London Heathrow’s airport. But you may also choose to fly out from Bristol which is only 40 minutes away. Fly home safe and remember to drive on the right side of the road when you are back! 🙂