Explore: Bath

As I turned thirty this year {cue gasps of incredulity}, my autumn has been full of rather wonderful treats. There was a gorgeous afternoon tea at the Soho Hotel, not to mention the sweet gifts that my kind, sweet friends gave to me. When my super-generous friend Vicki said her gift for me was a trip to Bath complete with spa visit I almost popped with excitement. Being the planning type, I immediately set to work deciding the must-visit destinations, including restaurants, shops and sights. As we only had a couple of days there time was limited but we made plans and this is what we got up to…

Where we slept: 

Vicki had taken care of all the arrangements here, but we stayed in the ever-so-wonderful Oldfields BnB. The delightful house stands on top of a lovely hill which overlooks the centre of Bath. One treat was the rather well-stocked DVD library - we made the most of this by watching Northanger Abbey {well, when in Bath…} as we fell asleep. Speaking of sleep, wow, what sweet sleep it was. I’m not over-exaggerating when I say the bed was one of the comfiest I’ve ever slept it. What a treat.

Need to know:Oldfields, 102 Wells Road, BA2 3AL.

Where we ate:

We shared the most delicious lunch at Cafe Lucca. There was a decidedly wonderful sense of calm about the restaurant - something this often rather stressed Londoner enjoys a great deal! There was one rather dangerous side to this lunch, though. The restaurant shared space with a shop. Even the most restrained person would find such a place tempting. There were clothes and accessories galore, but what really caught my eye was the homewares. Stocking House Doctor among other things, it was all incredibly covetable. And with Christmas around the corner I was in my element. I plumped for a gorgeous, bright House Doctor bag and another item which must remain secret, as it’s a Christmas gift - suffice to says it’s very very pretty.

Later on that evening, we ate dinner at Yammo, making our decision based solely on Trip Advisor ratings. The music was playing up-beat tracks and the friendly staff were lovely and attentive. The burger I had was delicious, and the cocktails were divine. It was very purse friendly too, which allowed for more indulgence at the gin bar up the road. {More on that below.}

As gin features highly on my 'favourite things to drink' list it seemed rude to come to Bath and not visit the Canary gin bar. That’s right, a whole bar dedicated to the strong stuff. The bar staff certainly know their Hendricks from their Tanqueray {and heaps more besides…}. We had fun going off-menu, asking for get their recommendations based on our flavour preferences. I love Hendricks, so I was recommended a lovely, refreshing cocktail complete with apple slice. That was one of my five-a-day, right there. I then took it back to basics with some sloe gin, straight up. Strong, sweet and to be sipped very slowly indeed. Must-visit bar. I'll be back.

Need to know: Cafe Lucca, 1 Bartlett Street, BA1 2QZ. / Yammo66 Walcot Street, BA1 5BD. / The Canary, 2-3 Queen Street, BA1 1HE.

What we did:

It should be illegal for first-time visitors to go to Bath and not see the Roman Baths. This fair isle of ours has a pretty incredible history, and it's always fascinating hearing more about it. So, audio guides in hand {I switched between Bill Bryson’s guide and the kid’s guide, Vicki listened to the one for grown-ups}, we wandered around the baths. A huge site; there is heaps to see and learn. To actually walk on paving that Roman’s walked on is pretty mind-blowing. The whole site was so indelibly marked with a sense of history; I felt like I’d stepped back in time.

After a history lesson at the Roman Baths we hopped into the nearby abbey for a little respite. No matter where I go in the world, I always seek out churches, abbeys or cathedrals - there really is no place else I feel such calm. Bath Abbey was no exception. With vast, vaulted ceilings and dramatic stained-glass windows, marking out the life of Jesus, there was beauty all around. The hush inside the perfect antidote to the busy outside world.

Bath, like any good UK city is replete with shops - lots and lots of them. I won’t list them all here, but it’s worth exploring the side streets to hunt down the many local independent shops that are full of gorgeous goodies. However, one shop that I must write about is The Makery Emporium. Nestled on a quiet street, opposite a lovely little cafe {that sells tasty cheese toasties}, this store is choc-full of all kinds of crafty temptation. Fat quarters, ribbons, buttons, wash tape… it’s all there. The staff are so friendly, and know their stuff, in case you’re in need of help or inspiration. If I lived in Bath I know I’d be popping in all the time - especially for one of the many craft classes they offer in the space upstairs.

After a tough day of shopping and eating, we rounded off our time with a trip to the Bath Thermae Spa. There’s no pre-booking, so it’s just a case of turning up and hoping it’s not too busy. {Those with reserved treatments can book in advance}. The spa has numerous levels, with different delights to behold on each. The highlight of the visit for us was the rooftop pool. It was such a bright, cold, crisp day that getting into the pool was interesting {a case of drop your towel and run!}, but once we were in the warm waters, with steam rising all around we soon relaxed. We bobbed around, making the most of the warm, bubbly water, until our fingers turned to prunes and every stress had evaporated.

Need to know:Roman Baths, Stall Street, BA1 1LZ. / Bath Abbey / The Makery, 16 Northumberland Pl, BA1 5AR. / Thermae Bath Spa, The Hetling Pump Room, Hot Bath Street, BA1 1SJ.

Bath was an absolute delight, and such a treat. A big thank you to Vicki for taking me! If you get the chance to visit then you should grab it with both hands! Trains go into Bath Spa from London Paddington, and take just over an hour. So there really is no excuse, is there?

Have you been to Bath before? If so, I’d love to know of any other must-visit places for my next trip. {I’m already planning a second adventure there…}