Set on the southern tip of the Cotswolds, a collection of honey-coloured villages surrounded by rolling hills, Bath is easily one of the prettiest towns in England. Just over an hour from the capital, Bath has long been famous for its natural hot springs and grand Georgian architecture, and today it remains a popular tourist destination. Sweeping crescents and cobbled streets sit alongside outstanding restaurants, stylish boutiques and luxurious spas, and few towns in Britain offer such unique history and culture in such a stately setting. Here’s the insider’s guide to Bath.
Where to Stay
Henrietta House | Bath isn’t short of fine hotels, but recently boutique B&Bs have taken precedent for those seeking a more personal experience. One of the very best is Henrietta House, an elegant townhouse that enjoys one of the best locations in the city. You definitely don’t need a car if you’re staying here – a good thing, because these historic streets were made for walking. Built in the 1780s, the rooms in this listed four-storey building are charming, cosy and comfortable, with rugs, shuttered windows and sweet touches like jars of homemade cookies. As you walk through the building, eyes follow you from the many paintings that hang from the walls (the owner is an art collector), and in the mornings the friendly staff serve up a hearty breakfast. Medium doubles from £145, large doubles from £160. Rates include breakfast.
Where to Eat
Yak Yeti Yak | Tucked away in the basement of a Georgian townhouse on Pierrepont Street, Yak Yeti Yak has the honour of being the first purely Nepalese restaurant in the UK, and it soon rose to become one of the city’s most esteemed eateries. Start with earthy dals cooked with mild spices before moving onto dishes like Cauli Keraw (cauliflower and green peas stir-fried with Yak Yeti Yak’s own spice mix) and Muglingko Kukhura, (chicken on the bone with tomato, onion and ginger). The staff are friendly, the food delicious, and there’s a good selection of vegan and vegetarian options, too; the only downside, if you can call it that, is that you’ll leave with a brand-new, all-consuming desire to book the first flight to Nepal.
The Circus Restaurant | Serving up modern European food, The Circus Café and Restaurant is widely considered one of Bath’s best restaurants, and situated between the city’s most famous architectural gems (Royal Crescent and The Circus), it certainly has one of the best locations. Using fresh, seasonal and local produce from the West Country, the simple yet flavourful menu is a delight, and most dietary requirements, including vegan and gluten-free, are catered for. Begin with starters like Wiltshire watercress soup swirled with cream and duck egg before moving onto mains including pan-fried Guinea fowl breast with steamed spring greens. Desserts, like the passionfruit crème brûlée, are divine, as are the aperitifs. Ask the knowledgeable staff if you need help choosing a wine.
What To Do
Visit Thermae Bath Spa | Set in the heart of the city, the award-winning Thermae Bath Spa allows you to follow in the footsteps of the Romans and Celts as you soothe your mind and body in these warm, mineral rich waters. Enjoy a swim in the indoor Minerva Bath before heading up to the open-air rooftop pool, which provides sweeping vistas over the town and surrounding hills. The Wellness Suite features both Roman and Georgian steam rooms, an infrared room, an ice chamber, a celestial relaxation room and experience showers. Afterwards, treat yourself to one of the spa’s 40+ indulgent treatments: if in doubt, go for the Watsu treatment, where a therapist gently stretches and guides you through a series of movements in the pool. This uniquely uplifting treatment will have you feeling like a whole new person! Prices for a spa session start from £36; packages with treatments from £78.
Get a dose of culture | The beautifully restored Roman Baths are an obvious must-visit and offer a captivating glimpse into what Bath was like 2,000 years ago. Fans of Pride & Prejudice should head to the Jane Austen Centre, where you can try on elaborate Regency costumes as you learn about the celebrated author’s connection to Bath. Visiting the Holburne Museum, with its incredible light installations, sculpture gardens and baroque cabinetry exhibitions, is a great way to spend a few hours. Architecture enthusiasts will be bowled over by Royal Crescent (be sure to visit the museum at number one!), The Circus, Great Pulteney Street and Milsom Street.
Go shopping | Bath is known for its stylish shops and boutiques. Visit Vintage To Vogue on Milsom Street to find vintage pieces like silk bathrobes and 1950s accessories, or head to gift shop Prey to pick up handmade cushions and sweet-smelling soaps. Bookworms will want to lose themselves in Topping & Company Booksellers, where the floor-to-ceiling shelves are stacked with every book imaginable. For high quality underwear, pretty dresses and fabulous costume jewellery, pay a visit to Mee Boutique, and for gorgeous, inexpensive boots (in over 20 sizes!) head to Duo.