Call it “Another Side of Britain,” or “icons with a twist,” but VisitBritain is urging visitors, and those who send them there, to look at the destination with fresh eyes, and beyond the tried and true.
A prime example would be the city of Bath – a popular mainstay on the traditional tourist trail, not least a third of the popular Windsor-Stonehenge-Bath day-trip route from London.
A whimsical mix of cobblestone streets, historical sites, and romantic architectural styles, Bath is famed for its history and natural hot springs – the latter two coming together with the founding of a spa by the Romans in 70 AD that is still attracting visitors over 2,000 years later – and is the centre of the city’s sightseeing experience.
Not unrelated, Bath is the only destination in the UK where the entire city is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
However, there are other sides to Bath that don’t revolve around the Roman spa ruins/museum.
Notable among them is literary and cinematic Bath, where names like Jane Austen and Mary Shelley – and most recently “Bridgerton” – share the spotlight.
The latter Netflix smash currently leads the way, having snatched attention from “Downton Abbey” among Anglophiles, and increasingly prompting fans to visit Bath, where the city stands in for Regency-era London (1813) for filmmakers, in part due its stunning Georgian architecture.
Billie-Jo Rainbird of Bath Adventures says the company’s guided 90-minute Bridgerton-themed walking tour is becoming more and more popular as Season 3 looms later this year, especially with North Americans, as fans look to keep up with Penelope and Colin, and see the real-life backdrops to their cinematic romance.
The tour through Bath’s cobbled streets is a leisurely one with plenty of time for photo opportunities and taking in the views, as well as stopping to hear about some behind-the-scenes gossip of the series and the filming process.
Points of interest on the tour include the Featherington’s house, Madame Delacroix’s shop, and Lady Danbury’s house, all while headphones serenade with the music and sounds of the hit series, as well as other tunes from an eclectic list of artists curated by Rainbird, based on having performed in Bath over the years.
As for the soundtrack, which includes the likes of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Coldplay, and commentary on the city that extends beyond the TV show, Rainbird laughs, “It is a ‘Bath and Bridgerton’ tour, so we get a lot of partners (who aren’t necessarily fans of the show) dragged along.”
Rainbird notes that Bath Adventures (riveradventures.co.uk.) will work with travel agents.
Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein
More gruesome than genteel, Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein invites visitors to immerse themselves in author Mary Shelley’s complex and often tragic past and uncover the true story behind the “monster” she brought to life in 1818, having written much of the gothic classic in Bath.
Extending over four engaging floors, including a “dank foreboding basement,”
the award-winning, multi-sensory visitor attraction – which goes beyond a Ripley’s Believe It or Not-style venue – is nevertheless bursting with unusual artefacts, ominous soundtracks, bespoke smells, and special effects, including a 2.5-m. animatronic breathing creature, authentically reproduced exactly as described in the novel by Shelley (banner photo) – which is to say minus the bolts and green skin attributed to Herman Munster-style depictions.
But it also tells the tragic story of Shelley’s life, including a troubled teenage marriage, non-conformity (she was vegetarian, for example), and struggles as a female author in a male-dominated society.
The House also features two rooms illustrating the legacy of her novel in popular culture (enter the neck bolts and green skin), plus an intimate screening room showing the first ever Frankenstein film from 1910, a Frankenstein-themed Escape Room, The Body In A Suitcase challenge, and, for braver visitors, an edgy walkthrough experience in the basement.
Groups can arrange also cocktails at the aptly-named “Bloody Mary Bar.”
Jane Austen Centre
Meanwhile, nearly next door to Mary Shelley’s place, the considerably less horrifying Jane Austen Centre pays homage to the another of Britain’s greatest and most enduring writers – who authored “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility,” among other literary classics, during time spent in Bath.
Visitors can enjoy the talks, displays and activities centred on the celebrated novels of the rector’s daughter, which commented and critiqued the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century, also commonly and uniquely (for the time) offering early feminist themes. Not quite as extensive or, by nature, as colourful as Frankenstein House, a visit to the Austen Centres is best topped off with a cup of tea at the Regency Tea Room, including being served by staff in period costume, to complete the experience.
First published at Travel Industry Today
First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News