Bath has been fashionable since the Georgians built its honey-coloured town houses, elegant crescents and created a spa in the 18th century. Millions of visitors now flock to this compact city for its architecture, elegant shops and, still, to take its waters - in the form of a smart open-air pool at the Thermae Spa Baths.
With excellent schools, accessible countryside and culture in spades, Bath has seen a large increase in the number of London families moving in. Fast trains from Bath Spa to Paddington take 90 minutes, but an annual season ticket is a steep £7,972 so this is more a quality-of-life choice than a saving on property prices. The average price of a home in central Bath is £314,592 - below London prices but way above national levels.
"Over 80 per cent of our buyers last year came from outside the Bath area," says Charlie Taylor, of Knight Frank. "Families generally want property in Lansdowne or around Bathwick or Widcombe. The middle of Bath is Georgian but if you head a little further out there are Victorian properties with more lateral space."
Historic central Bath
One-bedroom city centre apartments in a Georgian building cost £200,000 while three-bedroom houses a mile or two from the centre start from £350,000. Prices on iconic Georgian streets are far higher. Knight Frank has a two-bedroom lower-ground floor flat in The Circus for £699,000, while in Lansdowne, a steep walk north from the centre, popular Sion Road and College Road both offer well-priced family homes with parking and in lovely Lansdowne Crescent, a ground-floor one-bedroom flat is £495,000 through Knight Frank.
Closer to the centre, Hamptons has a five-bedroom Grade II-listed Georgian town house in busy Bathwick Street for £650,000.
The Royal Crescent
Most of the 30 properties in the Royal Crescent have been divided into flats or become part of a hotel. Unusually, two of only six remaining houses are on the market. Number 20, with five bedrooms, is for sale at £3.5 million through Knight Frank. Number 4 is for sale at £4.5 million through Hamptons. Both houses have access to the private area of park in front of the crescent for a £400 annual fee.
The newly remodelled Southgate shopping centre and ongoing work to Bath Spa rail station has rejuvenated the once-grotty south side of Bath.
In family-friendly Widcombe, 10 minutes walk across the Avon Canal from Bath Spa, parking is easier and there are good restaurants and pubs, excellent local schools and a strong community spirit. A four-bedroom end of terrace Georgian cottage with patio garden is £595,000 through Knight Frank; a Fifties semi with garage and garden is £425,000 through Pritchard & Partners.
Larkhall to the north-east combines value with a bohemian, hippy atmosphere. Pritchard & Partners has a three-bedroom house for £425,000, while in nearby Camden, close to the shops at Fairfield Park and within a mile of the city centre, Whitley & Helyar has a four-bedroom terraced Victorian house for £379,000. Further out at Poets Corner in Bear Flat, three- and four-bedroom town houses start from £400,000.
Knight Frank (01225 325 999; knightfrank.com)
Hamptons International (01225 312 244; hamptons.co.uk)
Pritchard & Partners (01225 466225; pritchard-partners.co.uk)
Whiteley Helyar (01225 447544; whiteleyhelyar.net)
Reside Bath (01225 445777; residebath.co.uk)
Country Homesearch (01225 830930; county-homesearch.co.uk)