Bath Time - A Weekend in Bath Spa
'Weekend' in Bath
If you're thinking of a spending a weekend away, and you're strangely thinking of staying in Britain — despite the weather, the queues, and the general dysfunction — why not give London a miss and head to the city of Bath? If Bath is no longer all tea rooms and twin sets any more, parts of it are still almost civilised if you squint.
Timing will be everything. Don't try and visit Bath between May and October. You'll be trampled by camera-toting tourists fairly badly. Forget Saturdays too. That's when everyone from the surrounding area arrives to shop, and day-trippers from London pile out of coaches and trains. Hopeless. Let's make your weekend Sunday and Monday.
The stone used to build the Georgian centre of the city positively glows in sunshine, so you must visit when it's sunny too. Visiting on a sunny day in January is generally optimal. For added Georgian flavour, try and coincide with one of the regular Jane Austen festivals in the city.
Sunday as Saturday in Bath
You've got the timing right and you're now in sunny Bath on a Sunday. Let's take a little tour. It won't take long if you don't keep stopping to look in the shops.
Head up the main street until you get to Gieves and Hawkes in New Bond Street. You can ignore anything lower today. From here take a stroll to the top of Milsom Street. When you get to the top, turn right and look for a small lane called Bartlett Street on the other side of the road where you will see the Antiques Centre. Now the city gets a bit quieter. This will take you up towards the Assembly Rooms where the Fashion Museum is housed. Go all the way to the top and take tea in Bea's Vintage Tea Rooms. This is an order.
From Bea's head towards The Circus and then onto the Royal Crescent via Brock Street — all signposted from here. I'll leave you to yourselves now. I would make the further suggestion to either head down to enjoy Victoria Park; or head up from Marlborough Buildings, at the far end of the Crescent, to walk through the middle of the pitch-and-putt golf course and enjoy the view of Bath from the heights of Lansdown. You can enjoy the Marlborough Tavern and continue on to the Hare and Hounds from Lansdown if you are a stout walker.
See you tomorrow.
The Abbey and Pump Rooms
Afternoon tea can be pleasant in the Pump Rooms, and is sometimes accompanied by a recital. Again, I'll leave you to explore for the rest of the day. Don't bother with Southgate and the area around the train station — a shockingly bland and echoing valley of chain shops.
After the Abbey, you could wander down Pulteney Street and look in at the Holbourne Museum. Yes, do that.
Bath does have a hat shop — The British Hatter — and a cigar shop — Frederick Tranter — so it ticks two boxes on Tweedy's civilised city index.
What else can I say on shops in Bath? Little in terms of menswear, I'm afraid. I'll list a few places, but I'm peckish as I type this list, so that might be influencing its direction...
- Paxton & Whitfield: cheese
- Fine Cheese Company: cheese
- Teahouse Emporium: tea
- Colonna and Small's Speciality Coffee (first photo below): coffee house (They won't snarl at you if you order tea.)
- Society Cafe: coffee house (Decent loose-leaf tea too.)
- Bertinet Bakery: bread
- Thoughtful Bread Company: bread
- Best of British: delicatessen
- Topping and Company: books
- Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights: books
- Brora: knitwear
There are some reasonably good pubs in Bath. Some old and established, plus a couple of relative newcomers that replicate all that we like in decent hostelries.
Here's a list from a while back.
As I mentioned, The Hare and Hounds is an outlier that's worth a walk.
Bath Ales run some of these.