This is the take-away arm of one of my favourite places, Cafe Retro. Serves food and drink in compostable packaging! I also bought reusable sandwich wraps which are brilliant for the kids' packed lunches. Full marks for sustainability (and their stuff tastes good too!)
The Fashion Museum is a great place to visit and not just for people who like frocks! The displays are well-designed and you can get very close to the garments and their accessories, so it is quite evident how things have been made and whether or not the tailoring is skilful.
At present there is an excellent special exhibition, on until 2 September 2012, called 'Jubilee: dressing the monarchy on stage and screen', which shows over fifty costumes made for productions over more than 50 years. These are free-standing, and again you can see the garments at close hand and admire the workmanship. But there is much to see in the permanent collections, whether or not you go for this particular show.
The Fashion Museum is a treat and not to be missed.
Bath is my favourite British city to visit, especially in the snow. It is small enough to walk round; beautiful when the winter sun glints off the buildings; there are plenty of independent, quirky shops for loitering; and my treat veggie restaurant, Demuths, for dinner.
Demuths has its own cookery school and I treated myself to their Edible Gifts Workshop. This was the perfect combination of making it yourself and eating as you make!. We made dark chocolate, rum-truffles; white chocolate and pistachio snowflakes; then chocolate coated peppermint creams & caramelized hazelnuts. We learned to create perfect cantuccini and mince pies; a delicious chilli and persimmon jam plus an infused cranberry gin that looked lovely and tasted divine. What I don’t eat when I make it at home will be amazing homemade presents.
To sate my Christmas fetish, I also joined Demuths Christmas Cookery Course to get more imaginative with that standard and somewhat unexciting dinner. Brace yourselves parents and in-laws. We created a centre piece Moroccan style bastilla, to go with saffron roasted parsnips and griddled squash and fennel, followed by an over the top Dark Chocolate and Chestnut Roule. And we will start with that cranberry gin I have just decided not to give away this year.
It is in a listed Georgian building with gloriously distracting views of the Abbey from back windows.
This is a wonderful pub very near to the middle of the town. The emphasis is on the beer, which was fantastic. The interior is simple but elegant.
I'm not a great one for history. I'm not a great one for the whole 'spa experience' thing. And I baulked at the £12 admission. But my fiancee wanted to have a look round and we'd got a discount ticket as part of the city bus tour. Having done the tour, I would have gladly handed over double the admission for the enormous privilege of viewing what the curators of this truly marvelous exhibit have thus far unearthed. The experience was immeasurably beyond my expectations. We spent an absorbing three hours looking around the fabulously presented ancient Roman baths. Technical wizardry allows you to see the ruins as they really were, projected right onto the remains as they are now; complete with spectral, be-toga'd Romans wandering about the place taking the waters. The museum side of things is like none I've been to before and recorded tour guides are available pitched at brainy history-fanatical adults, less demanding but keen to know adults, and children alike. A revelatory visit, and one which I have already recommended to friends and family, and await a return visit myself, with eager anticipation. An absolute joy! Go there now, and don't forget to taste the sulphurous waters themselves on the way out through the Pump House!
The Roman Baths, Stall Street, Bath
+44 (0)1225 477785
Google map: bit.ly/hAfuFs
Lovely, independent tapas bar and cafe. Great atmosphere and fresh, homemade food. The tapas platters are the best in the city.
Step a mere 100m south from Bath Abbey and the Roman baths into one of the oldest streets of Bath and enter the finest vegetarian restaurant in Britain. There are no Cranks eating in Demuths. The food is exuberant, exciting, an act of love, reflecting Rachel’s eye for colour, texture, flavour and artful combinations as seen on her world-wide travels. The simple ingredient becomes a blissful experience. Try her potato bonda (a green chili potato ball in a gram flour batter served in a spiced tomato soup with toasted cumin oil) or the beetroot aranchi (beetroot risotto balls stuffed with Somerset brie, served with apple jelly, yellow beetroot, pickled fennel, and rocket on a pink grapefruit and mint dressing). Try the Italian bitter chocolate cake and you may hear the angels singing. There are more meat-eaters among the regulars than either vegetarians or vegans. And if still not tempted, in 2008 Demuths was awarded ‘Bath restaurant of the Year’. That means the ‘Best of ALL’ restaurants in Bath. That’s no ordinary vegetarian diner.
At Athole House, just a few minutes walk from the centre of Bath, owner Wolfgang makes his own muesli to Bircher's original Swiss recipe. The bread is home made every day too, as are the fruit salad and the buttermilk pancakes. We stayed for three days and ate so well each morning that we never needed food again until five in the afternoon.
Just a stone's throw from Bath Abbey, this long standing independent cafe knocks the socks off the big chains. Really great coffee and large portions. Known for its all-day breakfasts but also great eggs benedict and the best croque monsieur this side of Paris.
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights is a unique independent bookshop residing in a cosy Georgian building in the centre of Bath. Tucked behind the busy streets, you can put your feet up with a cup of coffee and browse through books at leisure. Staff offer a friendly, informed and personal service, helping you to discover new books from their fantastic selection.
Themed literary evenings are led by well known authors and enable readers to share their love of books over a glass of wine, sample food from around the world and listen to a local talented band. Other delights include reading spa treatments, a bibliotherapy room, reading groups, personalised gifts and the famous tin-tin wall. Whether you are nine or 90 enter here and you will be hooked.
The words 'boutique bookshop' conjure up images of a snobbish exclusive, expensive store, and yet Mister B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath manages to be quaint without any of the negative connotations. With its Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Old-Curitoisty-Shop charm it is a delight to wander around and pick out a new novel from the white-washed shelves, wooden tables, or the ornate bathtub that displays the best in children's literature. There's a huge travel section, sofas to curl up on, and refreshments upstairs. The staff are incredibly friendly, and their favourite picks of the month are displayed if you want a gentle hint at what to purchase next. Plus their adorably scruffy rescue dog can sometimes be found sniffing around ankles and receiving pats from customers. It really is a home from home for book lovers.
Climb up the hill to Topping's Bookshop in The Paragon, Bath. An appropriate address for such a wonderful shop.You will be welcomed with tea or coffee,and about 43,000 titles in stock. There is a quick ordering service and a great events programme. Above all it has knowledgeable staff who are interested in your requests and helping to find just the right books for you.
Topping & Co,3 Bladud Buildings, The Paragon, Bath BA1 5LS
Google map: bit.ly/di27p8
Bath has some real gems for vintage clothes. On the weekend there is a stall at the Cattle Market selling a variety of uniforms, fur and other pieces.
Venture further up Walcot Street (towards the London Road) and you will arrive at Jack and Danny's - a vast collection of clothes
from all eras. Ask the staff if you have something in mind and they will
rummage around to find the perfect thing, and they will often hire out pieces for the weekend. Hidden in an alleyway off Milson Street is Vintage
to Vogue which has a very good collection of men's and women's clothing and last time I was
there, some one-off vintage road cycling jerseys.
Vintage to Vogue: 28 Milsom Street, Bath
Google map: bit.ly/9tH9ql
Jack and Danny's: 3 London St
Bath BA1 5BU
Google map: bit.ly/dreYDg
The Nats are a Bath institution, specialising in comic street theatre. You might catch them on the streets of Bath as they try out new and ever more bizarre scenarios before they take them on tour. What few people realise is that they also provide the rather more serious but still very engaging live historical characters at the Roman Baths. They are there every day of the week and really help to bring history to life.
The Thermae Spa in Bath offers what most do not – flexibility. A visit is easily slotted in before a shopping trip, after lunch or when your feet need a rest after exploring this stunning Georgian city. There is no need to book.
Although there are full ranges of treatments available, it is not really necessary to book one to have the full spa experience. A two-hour spa session at £24 is a relatively cheap and wonderful way to relax. That gives you plenty of time to use the four scented steam rooms, swim in the enclosed thermal ‘Minerva’ pool and have a glass of something in the Springs café. Finish the visit by floating in the naturally warm spring water Rooftop Pool overlooking the picture perfect Bath Spa rooftops.
The modern spa does feel a little utilitarian in places, after all, the council part owns it, but that adds to a unisex vibe that means men won’t feel as though they landed in the middle of an episode of ‘Sex and the City’. But remember, Bath being a tourist magnet, it is worth avoiding during the busiest times of the week.
Upmarket renovated pub in city centre right next to the Theatre Royal. Excellent but not cheap food, decent choice of beers and good wine list. Set menu at lunch is good value. So close to the theatre the bell rings in the bar!
Walking around the city of Bath is a pleasure for the sight. The only World Heritage city in the UK, the architecture and the beautiful surroundings are one of a kind. And if architecture is what you're craving, don't miss the Royal Crescent or (more importantly) the Abbey. Lose yourself in the awe of its Perpendicular Gothic style and bathe in the colored light of the impressive stained-glass windows. If you're lucky, you can attend the choir's rehearsal. Heavenly music for a heavenly place (and I'm agnostic).
Nearby you will find the Roman Baths. Worth a visit, one of the best museums I've ever seen. But if bathing is what you want, then go to the Spa. A bit too expensive for the amount of services you can get, but you'll gain access to the impressive rooftop pool. Be sure to go at night and enjoy the breathtaking views of Bath, the illuminated Abbey, the moon shining upon you and the cold rain falling on your head while your body stays comfortably warm in the water.
If you're up for it, you can catch a bus to Stonehenge near the Abbey and Puteney Bridge (check that out as well). Now, as much as I'm fascinated by the history and the mistery behind this Neolithic monument, the visit there is not pleasant. The place is cold and chilly and the only thing to do is walk around the stones at a distance while listening to an audio-guide. What makes this visit particularly unenjoyable is the fact that such an important monument is placed right next to a couple of roads. The brochure promises that plans are being made to divert the road and solve the problem. I really hope they do, for the sake of future visitors. After grabbing a hot chocolate from the coffee shop, the bus takes you back to good ol' Bath in an hour. Enjoy the beautiful views of the countryside in the meantime.
Get lost in the streets of Bath, admire the century-old buildings around you and have a cup of tea inside St Michael's church while the organist is rehearsing. This lovely little city will leave an impression on you that time won't be able to fade.
New boutique hotel in Bath. Stayed here on their opening weekend for Valentines weekend and in the main was thoroughly impressed. Great central location.
One of the city's oldest restaurants enthusiastically recommended by the owner of the guesthouse we stayed at. What a treat! A beautiful Georgian townhouse with a wonderful ambience. The food is modern British and delicious. All the food is freshly prepared and locally sourced and the waiting staff are gracious and knowledgeable. They told us all the best places to visit and where we could buy some of the cheeses from their magnificent cheese board.
We loved this special place.
I read the Sally Shalam article at the weekend on this place and I have seen the plans they have for it. It's a beautiful Georgian town house in the city centre and set for a contemporary make over by a great interior designer - but prices seem reasonable at £99.
The place is set to open in February but from what I have seen, it's definitely worth a visit - will give you the low down after i have stayed there!
South Parade - 200 yards from Bath Spa train station.
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