The Roman Bath

The Roman Bath

St Sampson's Square

Tel: 620455

RENOVATED and restyled a few years ago, The Roman Bath was formerly structured to allow punters to look down onto the 2,000 year old caldarium from which it takes its name. This was done by peering awkwardly through a glass partition in the floor and much pint-spilling invariably ensued.

Now, however, you have to put down your beer and ask manager Willy Leech nicely to let you go downstairs and see it. The privilege will also cost you a quid, by the way (or roughly ten denarii to you, Voluptua), but that's a small price to pay to avoid a cricked neck and beer-stained chinos.

These days you can walk around a relic that's open to the public for the first time in around two millennia. Fortunately, they've emptied the bath water...But the old legionary bath is not the only culture on offer. Most Monday nights feature resident rockers Stone Cold Sober (a misnomer if ever there was one) led by accomplished vocalist Garry Barrett. The band's set often features guest appearances from certain other, ahem, artistes and one of these is 'Wild' Willy Leech himself. Willy's warbling is renowned and, some would say, feared across the city - and nobody's quite worked out whether his broad north eastern accent is a blessing or a curse. Either way, the lads always draw a good, lively crowd.

Incidentally, multi-media megastar Willy also has a weakly 'joke spot' on local radio station Minster FM each Saturday morning (and I mean 'weakly' - as you'll realise if you hear the jokes!).

Aside from that, there's guest bands most weekends and a pop quiz each Tuesday night. In fact this writer and mates have won top prize so many times that quizmeister Martin Brown has threatened to ban our merry band! Well, at thirty-five quid for the winning team it's definitely worth checking out - and basically it's a good laugh win or lose.

Beers on offer are the usual fare - there's no rotating guest ales unfortunately - and the pub serves a varied menu all day long. Children are welcome, but only when dining and are confined to certain parts of the pub. Quite right too!

Outside, and just across the road, is a seating area where punters can enjoy tea, coffee and soft drinks during the sunnier weather and a small beer garden to the side of the pub is licensed for the stronger stuff.

Price-wise it's about average for a city-centre boozer - well, maybe slightly more expensive than most. Actually, this writer is convinced that owner Liam hiked up the price of a pint even before chancellor Gordon Brown had opportunity to sit down on Budget Day! However, given the friendly bar staff, the good background music and the genial atmosphere it's worth a few extra pennies for a beer or three.

As an added bonus the walls of The Roman Bath are covered in frescoes showing scenes from Roman life. Many hours of fun can be had thinking up daft captions for these entertaining creations. The one with the guy standing in the hot bath with bubbles and vapour rising up around him has given cause for much lavatorial humour on a wet, windy Wednesday!

All in all, The Roman Bath is a fine hostelry full of diverse types and boasting its own unique chunk of local history down the stairs. Not only that, but it's slap bang in the centre of the city - so what more could you want, people!

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