Cities are always an easy go-to location for a girlie trip away. Thousands of coffee shops, every kind of worldwide cuisine known to man and cosmopolitan bars with lavish cocktail menus along every street. I think I said it before, but I will say it again – I am NOT a city girl. Short term yes, but I could never envisage myself settling into a big city life. That was until I visited Bath. For geographical and historical purposes, it is classed as a city, but it just doesn’t have the suffocating urban feel that most cities possess. It is inviting, chilled and harbours the feeling of a small town even though it is rather huge! My friend and I spent three days here, yet we were never stuck for something to do, see or explore.
After 2 and a half hours of chatting and playing silly games in the car, we turned off the motorway and began to approach Bath. As the car climbed the country roads in the villages surrounding the city, we instantly knew this part of England was going to be for us. Approaching Bath, we instantly stopped talking in awe of the sight before us. It appeared to be a miniature world of its own, with a beautiful array of buildings wrapped in a blanket of woodlands and green pastures. The apprehension of entering a new location became non-existent and was replaced with a feeling of jubilation. We loved it before we had set our feet to the ground. From the outset and throughout our trip, we felt completely at ease, never far from a friendly smile or a crowd of people sat watching a soothing busking singer.
- For an atmosphere with a buzz, grab some lunch and sit in the Abbey churchyard. Losing track of time, we sat for over an hour listening to the variety of busking singers. Children played, dogs wagged, and people chatted in the midday sunshine beneath the ambient sound of the singers.
- For those who prefer to sit in a quieter environment, try the benches alongside the river. Cross the Pulteney bridge and walk past the boat cruise docks and you’ve found yourself a calm and almost silent spot.
- Accidentally, we found this gorgeous spot in Henrietta Park & King George V Memorial Garden when walking back from the Crescent Square. The remembrance garden felt like you were in a fairy-tale garden, with little nooks and crannies behind every plot of plants. Squirrels roamed beside the water fountain and butterflies brushed their wings on the leaves. It is a chance to really relax.
- For a chilled-out experience on the water, you can get on a river boat for as little as £10 an hour. Our tour took us to Bathampton. There is something so calming about being on a river boat. We even saw a kingfisher! That was my day made.
- You can enter the Parade Gardens for a small fee. We would’ve done this, but we had a view of the park from our hotel, so we didn’t feel like we needed to pay to get in. If you have children and foresee being there all day, then it is worth it! It is a perfectly preened park dotted with the iconic red and white striped loungers, brightly coloured flowers and grand statues.
History Heaven (with amazing architecture)
Whether you are a history buff or not, the history that Bath has to offer can be appreciated by all!
You cannot come to Bath and ignore The Roman Baths– you just can’t do it. We arrived for our 11am slot full of excitement. Naively, we didn’t pre-empt the complexity of the design of the baths. Assuming we would walk through to the main bath, we were pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of history we were handed. You can whizz through and go down to the bath, but you would miss the extensive detail in the surrounding structures. Entering the site, you are welcomed with a view of the main bath from above. Guarding the walkway, are weathered, yet regal statues of Roman legends. They look onto the water, as if to immortalise their connection to their historic imprint on English soil. You visit under their watchful eye. The sun was at its highest point when we reached the sides of the water. Its rays cascaded down onto the glorious green water, illuminating and reflecting the surrounding architecture onto its surface. Whilst we contorted our bodies into positions to capture the whole of the bath, we did have time away from our cameras to observe the beauty of its history. Throughout the site, you are enlightened with holographic videos that replicate the roman comings and goings within the baths. Some of the sections are undeniably weathered and are hard to imagine as working roman structures, but it is fascinating to acknowledge that the steps we were walking on, were previously stepped on by roman officials coming to bathe. The same stones, just a different time period. History lives within the site. There are barely any modern additions unless necessary for safety and hygiene. It is a virtually untouched piece of Roman history.
(Apologies for how many times I said bath, there aren’t many synonyms for it really!)
To add to the aesthetically pleasing sights, Bath Abbey sits behind the walls of the baths- almost showing off really! Although my friend and I aren’t religious, visiting religious sites is a thing we enjoy doing. The captivating architecture of this building is one we couldn’t resist. It doesn’t matter how many stained-glass windows I see, or how many riveting roof carvings I come across, I am in total admiration for them every time. I find it hard to comprehend how people centuries ago can create something so specially designed working with the limited materials they had. It is incredible! The symmetry of the walls and stone columns, the precision of the statues and the supreme stained-glass windows that allow just the right amount of light through its splendid selection of colours.
It’s not only Roman design that shines in Bath, the Georgians have stamped their amazing architecture over the city also. As you arrive into the city, the buildings scream Georgian. I recalled seeing these period buildings in Dublin and thinking how lovely they were. Bath is literally the epitome of Georgian. Crescent Square and Great Pulteney Street are the perfect picture opportunity for those who adore architecture.
Everywhere you turn in Bath there are bold and beautiful buildings. The Pulteney Bridge is another example of why this city has possibly the best architecture in England. It is also one of few bridges that have shops/cafes on both sides as you walk over it. The view of the river from the Pulteney Bridge coffee shops is a view I could see before me repeatedly, without getting bored. I cannot speak highly enough of this city for its history heaven and amazing architecture!
Food and places to eat
Food is not an issue in bath. There is a café/bar/restaurant for everyone! Vegetarians, vegans and gluten free individuals will not struggle. Even in the plentiful bakeries, there are options for all! The places we ate/drank are:
- The Cornish Bakery– in the Abbey churchyard
- La Cremeria Ice Cream Parlour- York Street
- Joya (Italian) – Newmarket Row
- Bridge Coffee Shop- Pulteney Bridge
- Pulteney Kitchen- Pulteney Bridge
- Good Day Café– 12 Upper Borough Walls
- Indian Temptation– 9-10 High Street
- All Bar One– 11-12 High Street
- La Baguette – 3 Stall Street
- The market section with fresh produce/ delicatessen style – Bath Guildhall Market
1. There are shops for anything and everything! You name it bath has it! Trinket shops? Yes! Interior shops? Yes! Alcohol shops? Yes! Jewellery shops? Yes! (I managed to bag a Great Gatsby journal that I didn’t need but had to have it.)
2. Dog friendly. Within cities, you don’t tend to see many dogs. Bath is super dog friendly! As much as I would’ve loved to take my baby, he much prefers the beach when he goes on holiday.
3. Our hotel was in the perfect location for everything in Bath. Overlooking parade park, our room was the best place to wake up in the city with a good book and a cup of tea. To the left of the hotel, you can see the sunrise over the distant fields.
4. We explored the city in the sunshine, but even during the winter months, we think it would be still fabulous!
Shops to visit:
1. Pulteney Bridge Flowers – 14 Pulteney Bridge
2. Pinkart – 9 York Street
3. French Grey Interiors – 1 Burton Street
4. Rossiters of Bath – 38-41 Broad Street
Things we wished we had done:
1. Stayed longer.
2. Visited Stonehenge
3. Booked into the thermae spa
4. Not drank the water from the roman baths! Ha!
We stayed in Parade Park Hotel
8,9,10 North Parade,