Bath is an irresistibly beautiful city founded by the Romans and is famous for its thermal spa and Georgian architecture. I don’t know why it took me four years of living in England to finally visit this place and fall in love with it.
I took an 8:30 am National Express bus from London Victoria and got to Bath in about 2.5 hours. It was a Sunday morning which was the reason for almost no traffic. This is actually the cheapest way to get to Bath as tickets are available for as little as £10 one way or less if you book a few weeks in advance.
It was too early to check in at the Harington’s Hotel, so instead I dropped my bag at the reception and went to grab some breakfast. At the moment I’m on a gluten-free diet and that means its harder to find a place to eat. A few minutes away from the hotel I found The Whole Bagel which serves amazing food with gluten-free bread. They also do a 50% discount on a takeaway coffee before 11 am. I was there at 10:55 am, just in time!
I started exploring in Queen Square which is a square of beautiful Georgian houses. My favourite is the one with a massive plant decoration on the exterior. I bet it looks amazing in Autumn when all the leaves turn red.
Bath is famous for its connection with Jane Austen. She lived here in different locations, and the one on Gay Street is now a museum you can visit. There you will be told the story of the Austin family and shown 4 portraits that are the only pictures of how Jane might have looked like. However, no one is 100% certain how she looked at all. On the top floor of the museum, there is a tea room to have a little break in before continuing to explore Bath.
Walking up Gay street you then get to the Circus – a historic street of large Georgian townhouses forming a circle. In the middle of the road, there is a gigantic tree which I’m sure would look amazing if you could take a photo of it from a drone.
I still had plenty of time before checking in, so I turned left to Brock Street to explore the shops located in Margaret’s Buildings. It’s a cute little street packed with small independent stores. What grabbed my attention was the Bath Old Books bookshop and Homefront Interiors which was packed full of attractive things I don’t think I need in my flat right now.
Next was a visit to No.1 Royal Crescent to see what was inside this famous Palladian facade. It is considered one of the finest achievements of eighteenth-century urban architecture.
No. 1 was the first house to be built in the Crescent and originally provided luxury accommodation for the aristocratic visitors who came to take the waters and enjoy the social season. Each room is an exquisite example of Georgian interior design with authentic furniture, paintings, textiles, and carpets.
The sun was out so I decided it was time to explore Royal Victoria Park and the recently opened Bath on the Beach. I wrote about it in Unexpected Bath: a pop-up beach in the middle of the city.
After an amazing sorbet at the beach bar and an hour of chilling in a hammock I moved back to the Circle to see the Bath Assembly Rooms that are right behind it.
The rooms were purpose-built for an 18th-century form of entertainment called an ‘assembly’. A large number of guests met together to dance, drink tea, play cards and listen to music – or to just simply walk about. The Assembly Rooms were at the heart of fashionable Georgian society, the perfect venue for entertainment. The rooms were frequented by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, along with the nobility of the time.
There are four rooms: the Ball Room, the Tea Room, the Octagon Room and the Card Room. It also houses the Fashion Museum with amazing examples of dresses and clothing of the past centuries.
Before going back to the hotel for a short rest I walked up Lansdown Road to see Lansdown Crescent and Camden Crescent. The latter offers a great view over the city. There is medium size lawn at from of Lansdown Crescent where you can watch grazing sheep. So cute!
At the bottom of Lansdown road, there is a bookshop with stairs on wheels! Basically, if you need to reach the top shelve, just drag the ladder alongside and climb up! Such a cool idea!
It was finally time to check in at Harington’s Hotel, take a shower and change. Harington’s Hotel is a boutique hotel right in the middle of Bath. The location couldn’t have been more convenient. It took me under 10 minutes to reach all the main sightseeing locations of the city from my room. Perfect! You can book a room here.
I held back exploring the main Bath attractions until late afternoon in order to avoid the busiest tourist times and luckily it was the right move! I walked down cute Broad Street full of shops, grabbed some food to eat at Waitrose and headed towards Pulteney Bridge. There is a little square right at front of the bridge with a few benches to sit and enjoy the view. Pulteney Bridge is one of only four bridges in the world to have shops across its full span on both sides. It’s actually not clear that you are on the bridge when you cross it. I guess it’s the most photographed places in the entire city and I can understand why. The best views are from Parade Gardens and the crescent weir.
A caffeine fix at this point can be done at the coffee shop on the bridge called The Bridge Coffee Shop or in the nearby Cafe Society.
I was on time to see Bath Abbey before it closed. This is a place you just have to see for yourself. Unfortunately, there were no tower tours that day, but this is something I will definitely do next time I’m in Bath. Check the opening hours here.
One of my favourite places in Bath is right next to the Abbey – the Abbey Green Road that forms a little square and small streets nearby. There is the famous The Bath Bun Tea Shoppe, the unique Bath Retro Store and Pickled Greens cafe. All of them are worth a visit.
I deliberately left visiting the Roman Bath until the end of the day. Again, in the evening there are fewer tourists and they turn on torches around the main outdoor pool which makes it look ancient.
If you are in Bath to soak in the spa, your best bet is to go to Thermae Bath Spa. Roman Baths is more a historic site rather than a place to swim (I honestly thought it was possible to swim here hehe). I spent a few hours here because this place is so peaceful and interesting to explore. It has always fascinated me to be able to walk around something that was built many many centuries ago. There are four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the museum holding finds from Roman Bath. The temple was constructed in 60–70 AD and the bathing complex was gradually built up over the next 300 years.
It was the best way to finish my day exploring this stunning city. Going back to the hotel late in the evening rewarded me with empty streets with the street lights turned on – it felt like in a movie. After such an intense day I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow in the comfortable bed of Harington’s Hotel.
In the morning I had a delicious breakfast of poached eggs with salmon on gluten-free toast and then headed to the Thermae Bath Spa. I was invited for a tour before the official opening at 9:00am to take photos. You can read about my experience at the spa in Do like the Romans – bathe in thermal waters! Thermae Bath Spa review blog post.
Before taking a National Express bus back to London I set myself up for a fitness challenge – to climb the REALLY STEEP steps with my backpack on to Alexandra Park for a great view of Bath.
I need to confess here that it’s been a while since I’ve been to the gym last time so I found it tough to make it to the top…. Completely exhausted I reached the viewpoint and I can say it was simply amazing and totally worth it!
Thanks to VisitBath, National Express and Harington’s Hotel for making this trip possible for me. All opinions as always are my own.
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