Let’s go to Bath
Sure, there are the Roman Baths, Jane Austen and it’s stuffed to the gills with gorgeous Georgian architecture – cripes, the whole city’s been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site – but there’s so much more than history to discover in Bath…
For foodies: the meal starts with test tubes at innovative multi-course tasting menu at Menu Gordon Jones. Veggies and vegans will love the Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen. Pizza acrobat Emiliano Tunno makes all sorts of dough – sourdough, hemp, black rice, even seaweed – for his speciality pizzas (and other Italian dishes) at Dough. Go to Chai Walla for Indian street food – veggie curries made by the owner’s mum and delicious bhaji roti wraps with salad, tamarind and mint sauce – sold out of what must the smallest shop in Bath (three people, standing, and it’s full).
Push the boat out at No 15 Great Pulteney, a luxury chic townhouse with quirky decor and a spa in the basement if the mood takes, on one of the city’s grandest streets (the clue’s in the name). Less expensive and a 5-minute stroll from the centre is family-run bijou B&B Brindley’s has just six rooms (said it was bijou). Combine the freedom of self-catering with the luxury of a hotel with the serviced Halcyon Apartments.
Go on the trail of 100 owl sculptures dotted about the city, each individually decorated by artists, designers and celebs. Inspired by the Roman goddess Minerva, to whom the Roman Bath Temple was dedicated in the 1st century, Minerva’s Owls will take up their perches from the end June 2018. Walk and chortle with Bizzare Bath, comedy on the move. For a view of the city from the countryside around it, take the six-mile circular Bath Skyline walk through fields and ancient woodlands, past follies and an 18th century landscape garden.
You’re spoiled for choice for excellent coffee: Society Café, Café Lucca at designer/fashion store The Loft and, where coffees change weekly, Colonna & Small’s. Stop for a pint served from the jug at ye very olde pub (first licensed 1760), The Star Inn. Not just drink (though they do a mean cocktail) but eat, party, live music and more at the newly opened, urban warehousey Walcot House. And onto the wine: Corkage, a wine bar with where you can nibble small plates of food and drink interesting wine – and then buy more bottles to take home.
Head up to Bartlett Street at the top end of Bath’s main shopping drag to the small and perfectly formed Article for unusual artisan homewares, flowers and handmade 100% natural soy candles. Nearby is St Margaret’s Buildings, a little pedestrian street lined with interesting independent shops including stunning designer costume jeweller Alexandra May, eclectic European clothing for men and women at Uber and affordable contemporary art at the Rostra Gallery. Back in the centre of town, get lost in the labyrinthine stairways and wood-panelled rooms of Rossiters, Bath’s idiosyncratic, independent department store.
Where to start? Have tea in the Royal Crescent Hotel or see how the Georgians lived at the restored No 1 Royal Crescent. Cameras out ready to take pix of the super symmetrical Georgian townhouses encircling huge plane trees in The Circus en route to The Assembly Rooms (the place to be seen in the 18th century) with the Fashion Museum downstairs. Climb to the top of Bath Abbey. Take a boat down the River Avon from Pulteney Bridge. You can see the thermal waters at the historic Roman Baths, but you can’t jump in – do that at the rooftop pool at the Thermae Bath Spa.
Bath’s dedicated children’s theatre, the egg has an eclectic programme for kids from 0 upwards, daytime shows, the chance to meet performers and a very nice cafe with healthy, veggie, vegan food – but don’t worry, there’s Prosecco too. A few minutes away, kids will love spending their pocket money on unusual knick-nacks and toys in children’s shop Spotty Herberts. Everyone can let off steam in the huge fun children’s playground – a zipwire big enough for adults, climbing frames and slides, not – in the 57-acre Royal Victoria Park.
Stand on the spot where the planet Uranus was discovered. William Herschel designed his own telescope to identify Uranus at his house, now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy, in 1781. Sister Caroline was an important astronomer too. Find flea and food markets, indy shops and eateries under the huge glass-domed roof of former railway terminus Green Park Station.
Catch a show at the Theatre Royal‘s main auditorium or Ustinov Studio before it hits the West End. Festivals aplenty: the Bath Comedy Festival now on until Sun 15 April; the flagship multi-arts Bath Festival in May has over 180 events over 17 days. Nature in the city at The Forest of Imagination June/July; and the Bath Children’s Literature Festival, the largest in Europe in Sept/Oct. If you must, dress up in Regency gear for the Jane Austen Festival in Sept. Gallery hounds: Holburne Museum (9,000 objects and paintings) and Victoria Art Gallery (along the same lines). Like your culture a bit more raunchy? Comedy, music, cabaret, burlesque and Bath’s biggest nightclub Motorcity at Komedia Bath.
ON THE MOVE?
Check out these city and town guides from the other Muddy editors…