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Hattie Lloyd 23/05/24

Your Guide To Bath

Fancy spending a weekend in a Bath that won’t make your fingers go all crinkly?

Then step right up to the UK’s most illustrious spa town! Britons have been flocking here for almost two millennia to take the healing waters and get away from the big smoke. It’s so culturally and historically significant, it’s been made a UNESCO World Heritage site. Twice. And it’s also stonkingly beautiful, thanks to a second wind in the Georgian period which graced the city with its famous honey-stoned architecture – as well as a lasting love of culture, entertainment and the finer things in life.

bath streets

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Given that it’s reachable in just over an hour by train, Bath makes for an excellent day trip from London – but there are many persuasive reasons to take a whole weekend to relax here, including – but not limited to – dozens of museums, a rooftop spa, and the site where Uranus was first spotted (those last two aren’t connected).

And we’ve listed them all in detail right here…



Take a 2000 Year Old Spa Day at the Roman Baths

The ancient baths in Bath

Bath sits right on top of the UK’s only natural hot springs, so aside from bringing the local barbarians central heating, plumbing, and houses with corners, the Romans also decided to introduce us to bathing. With a few modern modifications, the foundations of an original building are still standing – and it’s seriously atmospheric.

It’s half bath-house, half-temple, since the waters were believed to be connected with the goddess Sulis. Aside from taking a dip here, locals would toss messages to her into the water, asking her to curse their enemies (usually someone who had nicked their bathing suit).

The baths are probably Bath’s most famous historic attraction, so you’ll want to come here early in the day to beat the crowds. And unfortunately, no, you can’t get in the water, unless you want to attract the curses of the staff.

Then Actually Take A Dip, at Thermae Bath Spa

thermae bath spa

Getting in the water is very much encouraged at Thermae. It’s a totally modern – and incredibly popular – spa, where you can enjoy the various delights of the Ice Chamber, the whirlpool baths, the Ancient Roman-styled steam room and the Celestial Relaxation Room… for all of ten minutes, before you make an immediate beeline for the open-air rooftop pool. Naturally heated by the thermal springs below, it’s wrapped by stunning views of the city’s skyline and the surrounding countryside, best enjoyed at twilight.

Go On An Architecture Crawl

bath architecture

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Bath got a second wind in the Georgian era, when London socialites started flocking there every summer. It was very much the Soho Farmhouse of its time. And the city’s famous for its impressively preserved 18th century architecture that makes walking round the city feel like you’re on the set of a period drama.

In the centre there are cobbled lanes and lamp-lit promenades to explore, but walking up to the north-west of the city will take you to Bath’s most famous streets: The Circus and Royal Crescent, two curving terraces of stately Palladian townhouses built over 250 years ago.

Then head over to the eastern side of the centre to…

Cross Pulteney Bridge

pulteney bridge bath

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Inspired by a design for Venice’s Rialto Bridge which ultimately didn’t go ahead, Pulteney Bridge is now one of only a few bridges in the world that’s still lined with shops. Take in the view of the weir from Parade Gardens, then cross over, popping into independent jewellers, florists and er, map shops along the way.

Drop Austen-Style Witticisms at The Pump Room

the pump room bath

The Pump Room was the place to be seen in Regency-era bath. If you didn’t come here to gossip furiously over a glass of health-giving bathwater, were you even minor aristocracy? For a modest fee you still fill a glass from the historic water fountain, decorated majestically with leaping trout. Then wash down its – shall we say, distinctive flavour profile – with a slap-up brunch or afternoon tea, accompanied by a live trio of musicians.

Figure Out Who’s A Waxwork & Who’s Real at the Jane Austen Centre

jane austen centre in bath

When Jane Austen moved away from Bath with her family after 6 years, she described it as “a happy escape.” Bath responded with a dedicated Jane Austen Centre, daily walking tours, and the world’s biggest annual Austen fest. Superficial as she found the social scene here, Bath provided the setting for her novels Persuasion and Northanger Abbey (and probably a goldmine of character studies). And you can come face-to-face with the author here in her old house, where a life-size, forensically accurate waxwork presides over journals, sketches and other personal effects.

If niche museums are a personal favourite of yours, you can also stop by the old house of astronomer William Herschel to see where he first spotted Uranus; explore the art collection at the palatial Holburne Museum, the city’s oldest public gallery; then compare notes at the Victoria Art Gallery, which hosts regular exhibitions alongside a permanent collection of paintings by Gainsborough and Walter Sickert.

Go To The Theatre

ustinov studio bath

Philip Jeffrey

Sure, we have plenty of great shows in London, too. But it’s definitely worth checking what’s on at Theatre Royal Bath, which regularly draws broadsheet praise and pulls in some major players to tread the boards. Theatre, musicals, opera and ballet are staged in the Main House (a glitzy building from 1805), as well as touring productions of West End hits you might have missed, like Life of Pi. The much younger Ustinov Studio gets the more edgy stuff, while the Egg is for family-friendly (but still envelope-pushing) productions.

Browse The Stalls at Green Park Station

green park station bath

Green Park’s life as a station may have terminated in the 70s, but good service has been restored now in the form of a weekly covered market. Every Saturday the old concourse throngs with traders, who along with a handful of independent little shops in the old station building hawk records, candles, coffee, and handmade bits and bobs. Later in the day Bath Pizza Co fire up the ovens, and more often than not there’s a little live music on, too.

See the City by Hot Air Balloon

hot air balloons bath

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Fittingly, the price is pretty steep – but it’s one of the most memorable ways to get the lay of the land. You’ll get about an hour up in the air as the sun sets, plus a glass of Prosecco when you touch back down on solid ground (or before you go up, if you need a little Dutch courage).

Or Take In The Views On Solid Ground

bath skyline walk

Derek Harper/Wikimedia

The Skyline Walk takes you through the fields & meadows surrounding Bath, ending up with glorious views of the city through the hills. It’s pretty gentle, and it takes about 4 hours to do the whole loop. Along the way you’ll pass fake, modern castles (that are almost 300 years old), an abandoned Georgian tramway, and ancient woodland which, in spring, you’ll probably smell before you see thanks to the carpet of wild garlic blossoming along its paths.

Take a Day Trip To Lacock


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Bath looks comparatively cutting-edge compared to the really ye olde stylings of Lacock. This medieval village is so unbelievably quaint, it’s almost entirely owned by the National Trust. It’s under 40 minutes away by car, so easy enough to visit on an afternoon if you’re spending a whole weekend in Bath. Hundreds of famous films have been shot on its unspoilt timbered streets, which come complete with a bunting-strewn bakery, independent shops, and an 800 year old monastery where modern-day photography was basically invented.

Eat A Sally Lunn Bun

Back in the 1680s, a Huguenot refugee named Solange Luyon fled from persecution in France and washed up in Bath. She started work in a bakery on the tiny Lilliput Lane, where they gave her a new name… and she gave them a smash hit. She poured her knowledge of French brioche into her own bun – part cake, part bread, both savoury & sweet – with a secret recipe that’s still fiercely guarded. 350 years later, it’s just as popular. Take one to go, or sit in to enjoy it topped with cinnamon butter, ham & picalilli, grilled cheese and more. As (probably) the city’s oldest building, it doubles as a museum – and because Bath loves a waxwork, you’ll see Sally working the ovens in the basement.

Climb To The Top of Bath Abbey’s Tower

bath abbey

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Ok, so as abbeys go, Bath is a real showstopper. It’s stood here in various forms for centuries, and owes most of its current Gothic splendour to Sir George Gilbert Scott (who designed the famously lavish Midland Grand Hotel at St. Pancras). After craning your neck up at the vaulted ceiling, readjust by climbing up the abbey’s tower to look down over the city – you can even book a private tour and enjoy a glass of Champagne at the top.

Try To Resist The Luxury Goods at Berdoulat

Despite opening just a few years ago, Berdoulat looks like it’s been untouched since the 1800s. Founders Patrick and Neri Williams run a design studio specialising in period interiors & restoration, and their bewitching emporium is the bricks-and-mortar embodiment of their talents. Among antique weighing scales, mahogany cabinetry and 19th century fittings, you’ll find an array of tempting provisions, homeware, books, furniture, jewellery and more – in fact, they don’t sell anything that hasn’t been sold on the premises in all its previous incarnations. You can also pick up another local speciality, the Bath Oliver biscuit – a recipe invented in 1750 for good health, and delicious with cheese. And wine.

See A Bit of Everything at Komedia

komedia bath

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A grade II listed cinema reborn as a one-stop-shop for comedy, music, talks and cabaret. It was the first cinema in the West of England when it opened in 1908; now it’s the country’s first community-owned live venue, with over 220 locals steering the ship. The result is a brilliantly mixed bill of stand-up nights, live gigs, and guilty pleasure club nights, with free live music on Sunday afternoons.



Beckford Bottle Shop & Canteen

beckford bottle shop

An achingly atmospheric wine bar & bottle shop whose wooden shelves are stocked to the rafters. There’s over 300 hand-picked wines from around the globe here, and staff with seemingly encyclopaedic knowledge of all of them. Snuggle up in the corner to uncork your bottle of choice, or head next door to the dining room where the team serve Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning small plates in an irresistible setting.

Details: 5-8 Saville Row, Bath, BA1 2QP | Book here


landrace bath

Not content with merely milling their own Somerset flour and running possibly Bath’s most popular bakery, three years ago the Landrace team launched their dining room, Upstairs. Follow the spiral staircase up from the bakery and you’ll emerge into a casually stylish little restaurant, where a daily menu of rustic British dishes is scrawled onto the blackboards. Absolutely get the cheddar fritters if they’re on; then build up a banquet from chickpea panisses with baby artichokes; pork shoulder & black olive ragù; and ray wing with peperonata & aioli.

Details: 61 Walcot Street, Bath, BA1 5BNBook here


oak restaurant bath

Oak is technically a grocer’s, moonlighting as one of Bath’s best restaurants. They’re so passionate about the produce they pour into their plant-forward dishes that they run their own market garden just outside the city, and source everything else from trusted suppliers with scrupulously low-intervention policies. So if you just want to know if the food tastes good, the short answer is a resounding yes. Take your pick from dishes like homemade ricotta with purple sprouting broccoli and wild garlic flatbread; or potato terrine with caramelised cauliflower and smoked mushroom – or let chef decide with a five-course tasting menu, paired with a couple of excellent natural wines.

Details: 2 North Parade, Bath BA1 1NX Book here

Noya’s Kitchen

Noya Pawlyn’s Vietnamese cooking has rightly won her a legion of fans. She started out by hosting supperclubs at a small café near her house; now she runs her own fully fledged restaurant that’s consistently buzzing. The supperclub spirit lives on on Friday nights, when Noya serves a special five-course menu to every table in the restaurant at the same time. By day the lunch menu offers freshly-made marvels like crispy pork dumplings with fish dipping sauce; tender beef brisket pho; and grilled pineapple chicken noodles. The sunny back garden is worth knowing about, too.

Details: 7 St James’s Parade, Bath, BA1 1UL Book here

Dos Dedos

dos dedos bath

A relaxed cantina taking inspiration from the street food of Mexico City, housed, somewhat unexpectedly, down a cobbled mews. Daily specials join a reliable roster of nachos (fully loaded with salsa roja, hot sauce, pickles & coriander) and tacos (the tequila-chilli braised beef is a stand-out, paired with charred scotch bonnet Kewpie mayo for added heat). It’s a handy lunchtime pitstop, but it’s worth returning as the sun sets to make use of their margarita happy hour, or to sample their rum-spiked horchata or a negroni remixed with sotol and tequila…

Details: Edgar Mews, Bartlett Street, Bath BA1 2QZ Walk-ins only

The Scallop Shell

Ed Schofield

The Scallop Shell is Bath’s reigning champ when it comes to seafood. The daily catch – sourced from every corner of the British high seas – is kept chilled over ice in a miniature bathtub, which is then plundered to put together platters of shellfish and dishes like ray wing with salsa verde; smoked sardines & tomatoes on toast; and garlicky hand-dived scallops (almost all of which come with chips as standard). Up at the top you’ll find The Little Scallop, a nautical nook with a retractable roof that plays host to inventive supperclubs and starlit dinners.

Details: 22 Monmouth Place, Bath, BA1 2AY Book here


corkage wine bar bath

This charming wine bar and bottle shop is home to one of the loveliest al fresco spaces in the city. Their courtyard has been moulded directly around a tree trunk, all garlanded with festoon bulbs that add a romantic glow to the garden as the sun sets. On really chilly nights, though, you can escape to the bar’s eclectic interior and ask the team to recommend a bottle of something – their wines are all hand-picked and they’ve selflessly taken the time to get personally acquainted with them all…

Details: 5 Chapel Row, Bath, BA1 1HN Book here

The Dark Horse

An award-winning cocktail bar whose every nook and cranny is adorned with vintage prints, antique curios and softly glowing Tiffany lamps. The menu changes with the seasons – highly necessary, since they source most of the ingredients for their house infusions & syrups from local growers. Signature creations like the Sea Witch (which combines local aged Somerset cider with pisco, red grape & thyme syrup and peach bitters) sit alongside reimagined classics like the Piña Colada made with salted coconut sorbet. And then there’s the Infinite Daiquiri – pick a rum for the team to add into the ‘mother blend’ and you’ll receive a one-of-a-kind drink in return that adds another link in the chain for all its future drinkers, too.

Details: 7a Kingsmead Square, Bath, BA1 2AB | Book here


No. 15 Great Pulteney

bath hotel london day trips

The Guesthouse team love two things: hotels with easy-to-remember addresses, and show-stopping interiors. Their Bath hotel, set in a Regency-era townhouse, is awash with the city’s honey tones inside and out, with stunningly plush rooms boasting Hypnos beds, coffee machines, record players and charming views for the ultimate lie-in. When you finally emerge from your room, a freely raidable pantry, sleek cocktail bar and luxurious spa await, with a candlelit copper bath in the vaults big enough for two.

Details: 15 Great Pulteney Street, Bath, BA2 4BS Dog-friendly? YesPrice? £170+ | Book here

Broad Street Townhouse

broad street townhouse bath

A set of cosy but lavishly-appointed rooms, tucked up above a bohemian café on Broad Street (which also provides you with a slap-up breakfast the following morning). Every room has knock-out views of the city, and the amenities are second to none: Roberts radios, Bramley toiletries, rainfall showers and a mini bar stocked with all kinds of local delights come as standard. You’re in easy walking distance of all the main sights, too.

Details: 32 Broad Street, Bath, BA1 5LP | Dog-friendly? YesPrice? £140+ | Book here

The Pig Near Bath

the pig near bath

If you don’t mind a taxi in and out, and have no plans to rush up in the morning, hotels don’t get more luxurious than The Pig… near Bath. It’s about a 25-minute drive from the hotel to the city centre, making this a proper retreat – you’ll be nestled in the Mendip Hills with nothing but the sound of birds, sheep, and possibly wandering deer at your window to wake you up in the morning.

The Pig is more than a place to rest your head: the restaurant alone is worth the drive, with many ingredients grown on-site in the kitchen garden. There’s a cosy wood-panelled bar serving English wines and botanical cocktails. The extensive grounds are criss-crossed with rambling routes where you’ll meet plenty of wildlife. And the two potting sheds in the gardens are actually miniature spas in disguise, where you can unwind with a restorative facial or massage.

Details: Hunstrete House, Pensford, Bath, BS39 4NS | Dog-friendly? NoPrice? £255+ | Book here


Looking for more travel inspiration? Take a look at our Edinburgh guide