Out of all the major cities and towns in the UK, Bath has always eluded my travel path. Always driven past and never through, I vowed that 2016 would be the year that I finally visited the historic city, and crossed it off my to-do list.
I am a big fan of UK staycations. Between 2005 and 2012, most of my weekends were taken up playing football, which meant it was rare for me to get a Saturday and Sunday off. So when I got my weekends back, I made the most of them.
As you’ll see from many posts on this blog, a lot of those weekends were spent in places around the UK – Edinburgh, the Lake District, Cornwall, the Cotswolds, and Brighton – as well as a few trips abroad.
So when the RAC contacted me about collaborating on a UK staycation I finally found the excuse I needed to visit Bath.
My girlfriend had never visited Bath either, so we both took a half day off work on the Friday (partly to miss the traffic), packed our bags, jumped in the car and headed to Bath.
|Pulteney Bridge, Bath. Photo source: Wikipedia.|
DRIVING OR TRAINING IT TO BATH
We live North of London, so driving to Bath involved navigating some of the M25, then heading along the M4. Even with a little traffic on a Friday afternoon, the journey only took us a little over 2 hours. The A46 road into Bath can get a little clogged up, but it eventually thins out, and you’ll see the great views of the town (and Bristol) as you head down the hill into the city.
As with a lot of city centres, parking can be a nightmare. For this city staycation I decided to use JustPark. I’ve used JustPark a few times, and they can be a lifesaver when it comes to city centre parking. It works a bit like Airbnb. If you have a spare parking space somewhere, load it onto their system and people can pay to park there…making it perfect for places such as Bath. I paid £15 for 3 days parking – bargain!
If you want to get the train, Bath is pretty well connected, and the train station is a 10 minute walk from the city centre. A quick train from London Paddington to Bath Spa takes 1 hour 25 mins. A train from Manchester would take an extra 2 hours. Easy peasy!
WHERE TO STAY IN BATH
I would usually go for an Airbnb in a city like Bath, but for some reason I opted for a pub hotel. Staying in a pub has many advantages. First, they are not usually listed on travel comparison sites, which makes their availability much better, but secondly – and most importantly – they can often be much cheaper than hotels. Add the benefits of real ale and pub food, and you can see why it was a good choice!
We stayed in the Rising Sun Inn, located right next to Pulteney Bridge in Bath, which cost around £150 for 2 nights, for 2 people.
There are also plenty of good hotels in Bath too, so check out the best prices on Booking.com!
PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK
I was amazed at the amount of really nice pubs and restaurants in Bath. I just wish we had time to explore more of them! On our drive into Bath, we researched the best pubs and came across one called The Raven.
This was the part that made me salivate:
“Like pies? Then you will love the Raven. This Camra-friendly boozer serves eight varieties of pie produced by the award-winning Bristol company, Pieminister. These include one made exclusively for the Raven, a superb beef, chorizo number that’s full of rich, slow-cooked flavours.”
I can confirm, the pie was awesome. Check out the video above to see inside the pie!
We also ate tapas at Ole Tapas (round the corner from The Raven), and had a gin at the Canary Gin bar (next to the Raven).
Where you go in Bath, you will stumble across a nice pub, restaurant or bar, and from what I saw, you can’t really go wrong with the food, ambiance or drinks. All decent prices, all friendly places.
OUR STAYCATION ACTIVITIES IN BATH
I won’t lie. It rained from start to finish during our weekend staycation. As such, it was very difficult to take great pictures, but we still had a great time! Here’s what we got up to…
WATCHED RUBGY AT THE REC
Bath’s rugby ground is directly in the CENTRE of Bath. Rugby flows through the veins of the people of Bath, so it made sense that we went to watch a game. Even in the pouring rain the game was sold out, showing how impressive the support is.
The floodlights from the ground across the river shine a bright light on the Guildhall and Bath Abbey in the evening, making the city pretty spectacular, even in the rain in the nighttime.
TOOK A TOUR OF BATH ABBEY
Bath Abbey is probably the cities main attraction, and for good reason. Its design and layout is fascinating – the roof alone is not held together by bricks and mortar…it was constructed through clever overlapping of stone, meaning it is simply held together by pressure.
We bought a tower tour ticket, so got explore the views from the tower (in the rain)…
…and we also got to sit behind the clock tower, which is illuminated 24 hours a day!
EXPLORED THE ROMAN BATHS
Located right next to Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths date back to 70 AD in Roman times. The Baths are one of the few geothermal locations in the UK, so it’s well worth looking around, especially over the Great Bath, where huge stone pillars and the green spa water provide fantastic views over Bath.
There are also plenty of interesting features in the Roman Baths, including impressive stone architecture…
…and learning how the Romans created underfloor heating. They blew hot smoke between piles of tiles that propped up the floor. The tiles would heat up, creating a warm floor, and the smoke would be ventilated out through vents in the walls. Nice engineering!
WANDERED AROUND THE SHOPS
There are plenty of great shops to keep even the keenest shopaholic happy. Given it was pouring down with rain, I didn’t mind ducking into one of many shops located in the centre.
TOOK IN THE SIGHTS AT NIGHT
A lot of the architecture in Bath is very similar to Edinburgh, especially houses along streets such as Great Pulteney Street. But even in the driving rain at night, the light illuminates the honey coloured stone, making most of the city look grand, archaic and impressive all at the same time.
That in itself is a testament to how beautiful this city really is.
WENT TO SEE THE ROYAL CRESCENT
Most of the postcards or stock images you will see of Bath will include the Royal Crescent. This is a street in Bath that has 30 Georgian terraced houses laid out in a crescent shape, overlooking Victoria Park.
This was our last stop before heading back to leafy Hertfordshire.
I enjoyed every minute of our weekend trip to Bath, but would love to go back in Spring or Summer..ideally when rain isn’t forecast 🙂
Have you been to Bath? Would you add any other recommendations? If so, please add them in the comments below!
Disclaimer: I am visiting Bath thanks to an invitation for a Staycation with the RAC. While the trip is being sponsored by them, the views and opinions I present here are explicitly my own.