There’s never a bad time to visit Somerset’s prettiest city
The stunning UNESCO-listed city of Bath draws plenty of visitors with its rich history and trademark sandstone architecture. For most, a visit to Bath includes a generic spa visit, a trip to the magnificent Roman Baths, and — for literature lovers — a quick stop at the Jane Austen Centre. And while that makes for a great trip, insiders will know that Bath has so much more to offer. Below are some of our favourite, more off the beaten track experiences.
Behind its gorgeous Georgian façade, this magnificent property pays stylish tribute to Bath's healing waters. The Gainsborough's 99 guest rooms are tastefully designed, while its in-house restaurant serves up delicious seasonal menus and lavish afternoon teas. However, it's the Spa Village that remains its main draw. Inspired by the original Roman Baths down the road, the Spa Village features a full circuit of heated pools, steam baths, and saunas — all decked out with Romanesque columns and colourful tiled mosaics. Upstairs, treatment rooms are a calming respite offering the most indulgent of treatments.
Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights
This space boasts a wonderful independent bookshop, but book (far, far) in advance for its Reading Spa experience. It starts off by lounging in an exclusive "bibliotherapy room" and discussing the finer points of literature with a knowledgeable bookseller. Based on your interests, you'll get a number of books to take home. The full bibliophile experience includes a tote for schlepping the books home, as well as a mug for that cup of tea to go with the books, naturally.
Sally Lunn's Buns
Arguably Bath's most famous dining destination, its reputation is built on the legacy of Huguenot baker Sally Lunn, who created her claim-to-fame buns in Georgian Bath. Peek into a recreation of Lunn's kitchen — don't miss the display that showcases Bath's street levels through time — then settle in at the dining room and order her famous buns with your choice of sweet or savoury toppings. The dulce de leche is a sinfully sweet, but a definite must-try.
The Fashion Museum at the Assembly Rooms
Once upon a time — the 1800s, to be exact — the Assembly Rooms were where the finest in society gathered to primp and preen. Today, they also house the Fashion Museum Bath, which boasts a truly world-class collection of historical and contemporary costumes. For a quick look at dressing through the ages, walk through the A History of Fashion in 100 Objects exhibition which features Regency dresses, Georgian duds, and even unique items from Christian Dior and Nike.
No. 1 Royal Crescent
Located on Bath's most prestigious street, this museum has been designed to showcase Georgian domestic life as experienced by the house's first owner, Henry Stamford. Every detail has been considered, in order to replicate what the house would've looked like when Stamford lived there between 1776 and 1796. The result is intriguing and just ever so slightly kitsch.
Abbey Ales Brewery
Founded in 1997, this is the only brewery in the city of Bath. While you can't tour the facilities, you can duck into the company's pubs to sample their beers. Grab a seat at the bar at The Star Inn, The Assembly Inn, Coeur de Lion, or The Trinity Inn, and prepare to spend a few hours nursing a pint of Bellringer (a clean, golden bitter) or Bath Water (a dry amber ale).
Prior Park Landscape Gardens
Beautifully landscaped gardens are very much a thing in England, and in Bath, there's no greater example of the art than this 18th century creation. Developed with input from poet Alexander Pope and legendary landscaper, Capability Brown, this stunning spot of nature boasts magnificent views over Bath, a breathtaking Palladian bridge, inquisitive wildlife, and plenty of secluded spots for picnicking.
With its stunning architecture and historical views, it's no surprise that Bath has featured in a huge number of movies and TV shows. Download the free walking map and as you walk around, you may just recognise the dramatic backdrops from Poldark, Persuasion, Les Misérables, and The Duchess, amongst others. Even if you don't, you'll feel like you've stumbled into your very own movie set.
Savouring Bath Food Tours
Foodies will find their taste buds sorely tempted in Bath as there are so many tantalising food experiences on offer. To get the full local taste, sign up for one of the three tours by Savouring Bath. You'll be strolling through the city's 18th Century alleys while sampling local brews at ancient pubs, sipping artisanal coffee, loading up on fresh bread, and perusing the freshest fare at local farmers' markets.