Set on the southernmost edge of the Cotswolds, little over an hour by train from London, Bath is the ideal spot for a weekend break. Long famous for its natural hot springs and classically grand architecture, Bath today is a pretty juxtaposition of old and new. Sweeping Georgian crescents, ancient cobbled streets and carved stone angels sit alongside trendy restaurants, independent boutiques and state-of-the-art spas. Here’s where to stay, eat and what to do.
Afternoon: Check into Henrietta House
Bath isn’t short of fine hotels, but if you’re seeking a more personalised experience, a boutique B&B may be a better choice. One of the best is Henrietta House, an elegant, double-fronted Georgian townhouse that’s just minutes from Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths, the shopping area and Thermae Spa. Built in the 1780s, this listed four-storey building oozes character, and small touches, such as homemade jam available to buy at reception, make Henrietta House a homely yet chic choice. Rooms are charming and comfortable, with rugs, shuttered windows, powerful showers and an eclectic collection of well-thumbed books. You’ll get a warm welcome from managers Olaf and Agnes, and in the mornings the smiling young staff serve up an award-winning breakfast. Medium doubles from £145, large doubles from £160. Rates include breakfast.
Evening: Dine at The Circus Restaurant
The Circus Café and Restaurant sits between Bath’s most iconic architectural gems, Royal Crescent and the venue’s namesake The Circus, a magnificent ring of Georgian townhouses. The seasonal menu uses fresh produce sourced from the West Country, and under soft lighting, well-heeled diners tuck into classical dishes brought up to date by owner Alison Golden’s simple yet flavoursome menu. Begin with ceviche of Cornish turbot marinated in lime, then move on to Sichuan aubergine spiced with fermented bean curd, before dithering over rhubarb and custard trifle or Venezuelan dark chocolate, toffee and almond frangipane with crème fraîche and kirsch-soaked cherries. The wine list is excellent, as are the cocktails – ask the attentive staff if you can’t decide.
Morning: Visit Thermae Bath Spa
For more than 2,000 years, visitors flocked to Bath to bathe in the naturally warm, mineral-rich waters, and today you can do the same – just in a rather more luxurious setting. A session at the award-winning Thermae Bath Spa gives you access to the indoor Minerva Bath, the open-air rooftop pool and the Wellness Suite, which features steam rooms, an infrared room, an ice chamber, a celestial relaxation room and experience showers. Afterwards, treat yourself to a massage or facial – or, for something different, the water-based Watsu treatment, which combines elements of shiatsu massage and acupressure to soothe mind and body. From the rooftop pool you can admire splendid panoramas of honey-coloured buildings and rolling hills, and as you float you’ll get a new appreciation for the way this city blends old and new. Finish off with lunch at the Springs Café & Restaurant. Prices for a spa session start from £36; packages with treatments start from £78.
Afternoon: Hit the shops
Bath is known for its stylish boutiques, so why not spend the afternoon picking up some souvenirs? Visit Vintage To Vogue on Milsom Street to find some glamorous vintage pieces; from Sixties sailor suits to silk bathrobes and Fifities accessories, the quality is exceptional (and the price tags reflect it). The gift shop Prey, on George Street, is an Aladdin’s cave of treasures where you can buy quirky cushions and sweet-smelling homemade soaps before browsing the fashion boutique. To pick up some new reading material, head to Topping & Company Booksellers: the floor-to-ceiling shelves are stacked with every book you could possibly wish for, and if you don’t know what you’re looking for, the well-read staff will point you in the right direction.
Evening: Dine at Yak Yeti Yak
Nepalese food may not be the first cuisine that comes to mind when you think of Bath, yet tucked away in a townhouse basement on Pierrepont Street is the must-visit restaurant Yak Yeti Yak, which serves up fragrant and delicious dishes, including a good selection of vegan and vegetarian options. Start with rich dals cooked in mild spices before indulging in vegetable dishes such as Hario Cauli ra Kurilo (delicately spiced broccoli and asparagus stir-fried with peppers) or, for omnivores, Muglingko Kukhura (chicken on the bone with spices, tomato, onion and ginger). The staff are friendly, the food outstanding, and you can eat at tables or in the traditional style, seated on the floor on cushions.
*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.co.uk
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors