Unique, historic and beautiful – three adjectives that probably do not do this UNESCO World Heritage site justice. Welcome to Bath…
In need of some time away, our trip was from a Sunday to Tuesday; albeit not the conventional ‘weekend break’ but I would definitely recommend looking at similar days as accommodation pricing is cheaper!
From Cornwall, we had around a three and a half hour drive and the most memorable part of the journey is the last 10 minutes or so, as you start seeing the buildings constructed from that iconic Bath Stone, before you know it you’re surrounded by limestone townhouses on evergreen terraces.
Accommodation for the duration was The Thief Hotel, just a short 5-minute walk from the centre of Bath. Perfect for those looking for easy access without having to rely on public transport.
For just £40pppn and after looking at the beautiful gallery on the website, we thought we were getting a steal but in truth, the room was tired and damp, situated right next to the bar courtyard where drinkers would chat until late evening (the yard closed at 10.30pm).
On top of this, our door was right next to the main entrance so we heard everyone coming and going, it was beside a WC and a hand dryer would go off at random times, there was a boiler above the room that was on throughout the night.
Not the best start, but yet Bath does not disappoint. We set out our plans to visit the ‘sights’ on foot, making sure we could get everything in whilst making the most of the good weather.
After acclimatising ourselves, the first stop was famous Royal Crescent; this is Bath at it’s best. The towering (almost) half-moon of beautiful Bath Stone buildings.
You have to wonder what it was like shortly after being built, without the vehicles and traffic.
Now to the other side of Bath, a downhill 15-minute walk over to the 340-year old Pulteney Bridge presiding over the River Avon as it cascades over man-made falls, we followed the Avon down towards the Parade Gardens to get up and close to the river.
As you leave the gardens you’re faced with the towering Bath Abbey, over 1,300 years since it was first founded and even for the average atheist, it is breathtaking.
The interior matches the exterior stride for stride in terms of beauty, with most of the walls made of stained glasses, it’s so light and airy – with the stained glass at the eastern end of the nave enough to take your breath away.
After a day of exploring, the evening was made for food and drink, making the most of being out of Cornwall and whilst we could, we headed to Wagamamas for some chili squid before we stumbled upon an absolute gem of a cocktail bar, The Dark Horse.
With table service and a cocktail menu predominantly featuring local suppliers, the dark and moody atmosphere is lightened by the attentive service with an extensive knowledge of the cocktails on offer – this is a go-to place if you like cocktails.
If my recommendation isn’t enough, well The Dark Horse was nominated as one of the world’s best cocktail bars.
Up bright and (not very) breezy, the first stop of the day was the Thermae Spa Bath. For a two hour session which included access to the stunning rooftop pool, indoor pool, saunas, steam rooms, ice room and infared room. At £35pp it seemed expensive but it truly is value for money considering how special this place is.
After showering and freshening up, the Roman Baths beckoned. In truth, I had mixed feelings about this place, the history is impressive and the amount of work that has gone into it, also impressive (to the point where I didn’t actually get any photos of the baths themselves).
I just can’t help but think it was all a bit OTT and although admission was more than half that of the Thermae Spa, I’d go as far to say it’s worse value for money.
After spending the rest of the day shopping in the various districts, we decided on dinner at a local restaurant, Joya. This Italian delight is right next to the Pulteney Bridge and serves the most delicious food! We had pizza and pasta, both cooked the Italian way and absolutely gorgeous, washed down with a smooth Italian beer.
I love Bath. Quite simple really.
I’ve found that it’s ‘not too big’ nor is it ‘too small’, it’s in my own personal ‘Goldilock Zone’ of UK-cities, coupled with the stunning architecture and with so much to do. It is now one of my top city break locations.