by Fred Mawer, The Daily Telegraph, August 5, 2016
An insider's guide to what to do on a short break in Bath, including the best attractions and restaurants as well as top spots for foodies and fans of history. By Fred Mawer, Telegraph Travel's Bath expert.
Why go now?
With its sweep of honey-coloured Georgian buildings and attractions such as the Roman Baths, Bath is worth visiting any time of year.
The sun sets over Pulteney Bridge which straddles the River AvonCredit: ALAMY Getting there
Trains from London Paddington take 90 minutes on First Great Western ( firstgreatwestern.co.uk ; from £15 in advance). If coming from the north, you will need to change at Bristol Temple Meads; see nationalrail.co.uk . The bus station is next to the train station; see nationalexpress.com for services.
Where to stay
The Bath Priory (Weston Road; 01225 331922) has the attributes of a country house hotel combined with the attractions of a city. Pretty and elegant rooms from £165.
Read full expert review and check availability: The Bath Priory
With small but stylish rooms, the Halcyon (2-3 South Parade; 01225 444100) is a central hotel in a Georgian townhouse, close to the railway station and the Roman Baths. From £109.
Read full expert review and check availability: The Halcyon
Brooks Guesthouse (1 Crescent Gardens; 01225 425543) offers chic, Victorian-style accommodation, great breakfasts and a good location near Royal Victoria Park. From £79.
Have dinner at Cas anis (4 Saville Row; 01225 780055). The bistro is one of Bath’s most reliable places for a really good meal. In elegant Georgian dining rooms, you are served French dishes prepared by chef patron Laurent Couvreur. Expect to be offered a glass of vin d’orange (homemade, based on his granny’s recipe) as an alternative dessert wine. Mains from £15.
If up for a nightcap, Bath’s best cocktail bar, Sub 13 (4 Edgar Buildings, George Street; 01225 466667) is just three minutes’ stroll away, in stylish, vaulted underground premises.
Sleek and stylish Sub 13 is one of Bath's best cocktail barsCredit: ALAMY Day one
On weekends, the best time to visit the Roman Baths (Stall Street; adults £13.50 (July and August £14); 65 and over £11.75, children 6-16 £8.80) is soon after they open — later on, there can be queues to get in. To get the most out of the UK’s most rewarding Roman site, listen to one of the engrossing audio guides as you go around. Use of the headsets is included in the (steep) admission charge, as is a glass of disgusting, but supposedly health-giving, hot spa water in The Pump Room Restaurant next door.
Get to the Roman Baths early to avoid the inevitable queuesCredit: VISITBATH.CO.UK
Enjoy a coffee at Colonna & Small’s (6 Chapel Row; 07766 808067). Its award-winning baristas prepare speciality brews with meticulous precision.
Have lunch at Same Same but Different (7a Prince’s Buildings; 01225 466856), a laid-back and slightly bohemian café that does great pan-European tapas and more substantial dishes.
Tour Bath’s set-piece Georgian landmarks. Start at the Assembly Rooms (Bennett Street; adults £2.50). Marvellously restored after having been gutted by bombs in a Baedeker raid in 1942, its austere Ballroom, Tea Room and Octagon were the prime meeting places for Bath society in Jane Austen’s time. Bennett Street leads in to the Circus, a triple-tiered Georgian Polo Mint. Continue down Brock Street to The Royal Crescent, the most impressive of Bath’s seven Georgian crescents. Peckish? Tehn dive into The Royal Crescent Hotel (01225 823333), which does an impressive, if pricey, afternoon tea (£26 for the full works — book ahead, especially at weekends).
The Circus is a top attraction for architecture aficionadosCredit: AP/FOTOLIA
Get the evening under way at The Star Inn (23 The Vineyards), a resolutely traditional, civilised pub (no music, no fruit machines), with a “death row” bench for its elderly regulars.
Dine at the nearby King William (36 Thomas Street; 01225 428096), on high-quality, seasonal, locally sourced food. Sit downstairs in the cosy bar rooms, or upstairs in attractive dining rooms. Mains from £14.
A two-hour session in the thermal waters of the open-air rooftop pool and indoor Minerva Bath of Thermae Bath Spa (Hot Bath Street; 01225 331234) is very enjoyable — as long as you haven’t had to queue or been surrounded by stag or hen parties. On weekends, early Sunday morning is usually the most peaceful time. Bringing your own towel, robe and slippers saves £9.
Walk around Prior Park Landscape Garden, a woodland-bordered valley that sits above a rare example of a Palladian bridge, with views across the city. Nearby parking is tricky: a taxi from the city centre costs around £8.
The palatial gardens of Prior Park are just a short cab ride from Bath city centreCredit: VISITBATH.CO.UK City checklist
Go to Bath by public transport if possible (parking is expensive). Stay somewhere central and you won’t need a car.
There are several free walking tours of Bath. The Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides offers guided two-hour walks, which are very positively reviewed. You can also download audio walking tours of Jane Austen’s Bath and the city’s highlights from visitbath.co.uk .
First Great Western has some worthwhile two-for-one offers on attractions in Bath if you travel by train with the operator.
Read Fred Mawer’s complete Bath city break guide
Follow Telegraph TravelThe Best Hotels In Bath View All
- The Royal Crescent Bath, Somerset, England
8Telegraph expert ratingThis luxury hotel spreads over two townhouses in the centre of Bath's showpiece Georgian crescent... Read expert review From£242inc. tax Check Availability Rates provided byBooking.com
- The Gainsborough Bath Spa Bath, Somerset, England
9 Telegraph expert ratingThe first five-star hotel in Bath in 30 years, the Gainsborough is also the only one in Britain t... Read expert review From£198inc. tax Check Availability Rates provided by Booking.com
- The Halcyon Apartments Bath, Somerset, England
9 Telegraph expert ratingThese stylish and spacious serviced apartments marry Georgian elegance with contemporary furnishi... Read expert review From£186inc. tax Check Availability Rates provided byBooking.com
This article was written by Fred Mawer from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.