For years bathing in the hot springs was not possible because an outbreak of disease forced authorities to close the city’s Roman Baths in 1978, confining them to a tourist attraction rather than a working bath house.

All that changed with the opening in 2006 of Thermae Bath Spa, a project designed to utilise the mineral-rich thermal waters and restore Bath to being a popular retreat for those wanting to bathe in the hot springs.

These days, Bath’s thermal waters might not cure your scabies or syphilis, but they’re certainly relaxing. When it comes to soaking your cares away, the designers of Thermae Bath Spa certainly hit the nail on the head.

The centre has a large indoor pool, the Minerva Bath, that swirls you around in a slow-moving whirlpool. There are four giant glass-encased steam rooms to make the sweat flow and the pores open, and treatment rooms for massages, hydro showers, and body cocoons – all very luxurious. The pièce de résistance, though, is the Royal Bath, a roof-top pool where you can float in hot water while basking in the sunshine and taking in the magnificent view over the honey-coloured limestone buildings and monuments.

If you’re on a day trip it’s not hard to spend a leisurely three or four hours in the thermal complex. Then there’s time for a quick stroll around the cosmopolitan city centre and some pub grub and a pint before it’s back on the bus.

After all that steaming and soaking, you’ll feel like royalty on the drive home.

Bath in a day
The centre of the city is compact, so it’s easy to pound the pavement and take in Bath’s sights in one day.

Roman Baths
This remarkably preserved ancient spa, dating back to the first century, is where the Romans built their original bath house on top of a 46?C thermal spring.

Moles Club
A great live music venue for jazz, blues and pop. Oasis, Blur, The Cure and Snow Patrol have all played here.

Royal Crescent
See how the aristocracy lived in 18th-century Bath by taking in the spectacular Palladian homes on the Royal Crescent.

Jane Austen Centre
The famous English novelist lived in Bath for a time, and two of her novels are set in the city, but there’s not a hell of a lot to see at the museum besides some dusty old costumes. For die-hard Austen fans only.

• Trevor Paddenburg travelled to Bath with Anderson Tours (0870-1111 400), who run daily coach trips to Bath with a stop at Stonehenge from £43. Coach travel, including a two-hour spa session, costs £49.