Is there anywhere on your bucket list that you haven’t visited in the UK, somewhere you really should have been because it’s only a train or car journey away? My bucket list place in the UK was Bath until very recently.
Bath is somewhere that I’ve seen on TV in numerous period dramas and destination travel programmes, with plenty of instantly recognisable landmarks. I have family and friends that have visited, yet I hadn't! The entire city is a world heritage site, a double world heritage site to be exact including all the buildings within it.
So, why did it take until I was forty-something before I visited, I’ll tell you why, so that I could appreciate the sheer beauty of the city. I reckon that if I had visited in my twenties all I would have wanted to do was visit clubs and bars, and my thirties would have been solely about shopping. So, it took until I was in my forties to truly appreciate how much this city has to offer. Yes, there are plenty of clubs and bars and shops, it is a university city after all, but there is also so much more to see and do.
I spent a glorious night at The Francis Hotel on Queen Square, right in the heart of the city. With 98 rooms tucked within the Grade I Listed Building its location is perfect for anyone wanting to be in the centre of things. Queen Square, is surrounded by Georgian buildings including The Francis Hotel, and offers a quaint green space which is open to the public and hosts an array of markets, events and boules tournaments.
The Francis Hotel
My room at The Francis Hotel was a Classic Room overlooking Queen Square, with a king-sized bed, 100 Acres toiletries, and floor to ceiling wall mural in the shower of the famous Roman Baths. Jam packed with mod-cons the room offered a smart TV, Nespresso machine, easy to manage air-con and heating system, complimentary drinks in the minibar, and beautiful Egyptian cotton bedding.
Dinner was taken at Boho Marché, a Mediterranean-Moroccan inspired restaurant within the hotel, a contemporary designed venue with views looking over the square. I indulged in Salmon Crispy Tostadas (£12.50) to start, Chicken Tagine (£16) and Fine Green Beans (£5) for my main, with Sticky Toffee Pudding (£7) for dessert, and a Passionfruit Virgin Mojito (£6.95) to drink. The food was exceptionally good as was the service. The stand out dish was the Chicken Tagine, packed with middle eastern flavours including apricots, sultanas, spices and delicate couscous, it was divine!
After an exceptionally comfy night’s sleep and a bit of early morning TV it was time for breakfast, and then a day filled with experiences around Bath. I packed my bags and left them with reception before heading out to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. Prices start at around £115 and rise to around £300 per night at The Francis Hotel, check with their online booking platform for up to date pricing.
My first port of call was a 2-hour spa session at Thermae Bath Spa (£40 weekday, £45 weekend). Britain’s original natural thermal spa is a treat for couples, singles, or friends as it’s an ‘adults only’ spa, with no one under the age of 16. Towels and robes are included for your visit, and there’s plenty to do whilst in the spa. The top floor offers an open-air rooftop pool which has stunning views over Bath. The naturally warm, mineral-rich waters are enhanced by air seats and bubbling jets. A beautiful place to start your spa experience. If you’re looking for an indoor area then the Minerva bath, on the lower ground floor is the largest of the thermal baths. It has flowing curves, grand columns, and an invigorating whirlpool.
Thermae Bath Spa
Situated on the first floor is the wellness suite, packed with a plethora of sensory experiences including an ice chamber, and two aroma steam rooms. Also, you’ll find an infrared room, and celestial relaxation room which are included within the entry price. If you’re looking to book for any further treatments then they cost extra.
I started at the top and worked my way down, from the rooftop pool, through each of the wellness suite rooms, and finally into the Minerva bath. I was mesmerised by the views from the roof where I could see Bath Abbey, and the Roman Baths, right to the top of the city. Two hours flew by way too fast!
Once I’d left the Thermae Bath Spa I headed into the city to check out the shops (2-minute walk), and I stumbled across Guild Hall Markets, which is free to enter and boasts some wonderful independent shops. I managed to pick up some great bargains before I walked across Pulteney Bridge.
Guild Hall Markets & Pulteney Bridge View
Pulteney Bridge was designed by Robert Adam back in 1769 and is one of only four bridges in the world to have shops across its full span on both sides. It is a beautiful piece of Georgian architecture, and one not to be missed by visitors. I would guess that it’s probably photographed by everyone who visits, including me! The river, the boats, and even the greenery surrounding the bridge make for excellent photos.
After walking around the city it was lunch time and I was invited to No.15 by Guesthouse, a quaint boutique hotel and bar, located on Great Pulteney Street. Literally a stone’s throw from Pulteney Bridge itself is the very grand Great Pulteney Street, with Laura Place Fountain at one end, and Holburne Museum (Lady Danbury’s townhouse from Bridgerton) at the other. A stunningly beautiful Georgian street of townhouses including private residences, independent businesses, and of course No.15 by Guesthouse.
No.15 by Guesthouse
I dined in the private restaurant on the lower ground floor, where the team at No.15 by Guesthouse showcased some delicious food and drink. I even tried a local delicacy called Bath Chaps, the lower half of a pig’s cheek! It was served hot and it tasted like an exceptionally cooked piece of tender pork loin, it melted in the mouth. I also lunched on fresh king prawns, tempura cauliflower, and tuna nicoise salad.
The food was unbelievably good, and the venue couldn’t have been any better, adorned with quirky collections of art, and unusual objects, I think it would be nice to have spent a night at No.15 by Guesthouse.
My next port of call was to the Abbey Hotel in the heart of the city, to their bar area. This is where I joined a workshop with The Bath Flower School to learn how to make a mini flower crown. Verity and Saffy helped me and a further 15 or so guests to produce something quite beautiful with flowers, twine, and tape. This was an excellent way to spend a couple of hours, learning with flowers. The ladies had already prepped everything, it was just a case of choosing which flowers from a collection and attempting to make my very own floral masterpiece. Anyone can book onto one of the workshops, which will be held within The Bath Flower School. There are half day workshops, 3-day courses, professional bridal bouquet courses and plenty more to choose from (prices vary).
The Bath Flower School
The last experience of the evening was a torch-lit visit to the world-famous Roman Baths. What a way to end my visit to Bath, at the 2000-year old Roman Baths, in one of the finest historic sites in Northern Europe.
It was turning dusk, and the torches were lit at The Roman Baths, it was quite a humbling experience knowing that the people of Roman Britain visited to worship the goddess Minerva. They bathed in 46°C natural thermal springs, which still flow into the bathing site today. However, today’s visitors aren’t able to bathe as the site has extensive ruins that can’t be touched due to it being of great historical significance.
The Roman Baths, the original pillars, the underground chambers, the museum, and the Pump Rooms make this attraction one of the most wonderful places to visit in Bath. And, the beauty of being there at night was quite magnificent.
It was time to collect my luggage from The Francis Hotel and make my way to Bath Spa Train Station on to Bristol Temple Meads, and then to board a Cross Country Train back to York. Cross Country Trains are comfy, and the staff are extremely helpful and friendly. I upgraded my return ticket and enjoyed complimentary hot drinks, soft drinks, snacks, and a sandwich for lunch. Dare I say that I even managed a couple of hours sleep before I logged on to the free wifi and did some work on my laptop. We even had to stop for half an hour due to a signal failure near Cheltenham, and the driver managed to get the time back and arrive at my final destination on time. If that’s not dedication to keep Cross Country running on-time, then I don’t know what is.
It was great to leave the car at home and sit back and relax with Cross Country, and let the train take the strain!
So, what are my thoughts on Bath?
It’s a truly beautiful place to visit, you’ll need longer than 1-night in the city to appreciate all it has to offer, and the people are genuinely lovely. This world heritage city is architecturally stunning, the visitor attractions are excellent, and there’s something for everyone to do of all ages. Bath is a must-see UK destination for any traveller.
Visit Bath can help with ideas for where to stay, what to do, and where to go. It’s with thanks to all the following that I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the city of Bath: