How To Plan The Perfect Trip To Bath, England

How To Plan The Perfect Trip To Bath, England

How To Plan The Perfect Trip To Bath, England
Image credit: nigel battrick/Getty Images

If you’re one of the millions of people who couldn’t get enough of Netflix’s hit Bridgerton, you’ve already had a glimpse of the Georgian architecture and glamour of Bath, England. Located in Somerset, a region directly west of London, Bath is recognisable for a variety of features, including its buildings made of the golden-hued Bath stone (or oolitic limestone), cobblestone streets, and natural hot springs that inspired the city’s name.

Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site — the only city in the United Kingdom with that distinction — Bath was founded by the Romans in the first century AD and developed into one of the most fashionable places to live in the 18th century. The famed author Jane Austen even called it home for a few years. Given its uniquely preserved history and structural significance, Bath is a popular filming location; besides its role in Bridgerton, it also makes appearances in the 2022 version of “Persuasion” starring Dakota Johnson, “Les Misérables” (2012), and “Vanity Fair” (2004), among other productions. As Gerry Paddock, concierge at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa notes, the city’s “fabulous architecture, river and canals, and an abundance of tranquil parkland” create a completely original — and photogenic — place to visit.

Even with the fanfare surrounding Bath and its reputation as a cultural hub, there are still aspects of the destination that feel inherently magical and undiscovered. “Bath is a treasure and wears its Georgian and early Victorian history well,” says Andrew Lowkes, founder and owner of Landrace. “But don’t forget it’s a living, modern metropolis. It’s home to a progressive community of real people trying to do real things and effect real, meaningful change. Have a pint with the locals at The Bell on Walcot Street. Drop into Atelier Ellis and talk colour, art, [and] beauty.” He encourages travellers to “seek the road less travelled and make up your own history” while exploring what the city has to offer.

Fair warning, though, this is the type of place that sticks in your mind, gently urging you to experience (or return to) its landscape and infrastructure. Its pull is so strong, in fact, that I decided to call Bath my home for a few months in 2021 — nearly a decade after my first visit. If you’re prepared to fall in love with one of the most exquisite cities in England, read on to discover our guide to Bath.

 Things not to miss in Bath, England

  • Book one of the beautifully designed rooms at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, a five-star property located in Bath’s most iconic example of Georgian architecture.
  • Start your morning with a sausage roll and one of the famous cardamom buns from Landrace Bakery.
  • Complete the Bath Skyline walk, a six-mile (9.6 km) circular path that provides an elevated perspective of the city.
  • Pop in and out of Bath’s many independent bookstores, making sure to visit Mr B’s Emporium, Topping & Company Booksellers, Persephone Books, and Bath Old Books.
  • Plan your visit in the spring or fall to experience the best weather and a less congested city.

Here’s how to plan your perfect trip to Bath, England 

Best hotels & resorts

The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

Image credit: The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

If you’re hoping for an only-in-bath experience, there’s one hotel to book: The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. Housed inside the visually impressive landmark, notable for its Georgian stone facade and crescent shape, the hotel overlooks a sweeping green lawn — and it feels right out of Bridgerton, albeit with all modern amenities. The 45-key property manages to achieve the near-impossible hospitality feat: Its five-star features — including a spa, indoor swimming pool, steam room, and on-site restaurant, Montagu’s Mews — coexist alongside a decidedly boutique, home-like atmosphere. With complimentary tea delivered to your room — or enjoyed in front of the fireplace or outside in the garden — you’ll want to leave time in your travel schedule to simply sit and savour the allure of the property’s enviable location and elegant decor.


Book your stay at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa via Booking.com


Book your stay at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa via Agoda.com

The Yard in Bath

“I always recommend The Yard in Bath,” says Lowkes. “It’s over the road from The Scallop Shell… The best chippy tea in town followed by an early night? What’s not to love?” The 14 guest rooms surround a quiet courtyard, but the breakfast might be the star of the show. Each morning, guests receive a basket filled with croissants, granola, yoghurt, fruit, and juice; alternatively, there’s a daily continental breakfast for an additional fee.


Book your stay at The Yard in Bath Hotel via Booking.com


Book your stay at The Yard in Bath Hotel via agoda.com

The Bath Priory

The Bath Priory is the epitome of a countryside escape, even though it’s just a short walk down Weston Road from the city centre. Once a private residence, the stately building has since expanded to welcome guests to its 33 guest rooms, spa, indoor and outdoor swimming pool, gardens, and restaurant. Even if you’re not staying on property, you can still book the quintessential afternoon tea; the tower of finger sandwiches, scones topped with jam and clotted cream, and bite-size cakes is even more enjoyable when sitting outside on the terrace.

  • Gerry Paddock is the concierge at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, a 45-room property in Bath.
  • Andrew Lowkes is the founder and owner of Landrace, an artisanal bakery in the city known for its freshly baked goods.


Book your stay at The Bath Priory via Booking.com


Book your stay at The Bath Priory via agoda.com

Best things to do

Take a self-guided walking tour of the main tourist attractions

Image credit: Visit Bath

Unlike London, Bath is a city where you can manage to see most of the main highlights in just one day. While several of the following attractions may be crowded — particularly if you’re visiting over a weekend — they’re still worth checking off your list. I’d recommend starting by Pulteney Bridge, a Palladian-style masterpiece and classic Bath photo op, and popping into Pulteney Bridge Coffee for tea and a sweet treat. Then, make your way to the magnificent Bath Abbey before heading to the Bath Assembly Rooms, where you can get a taste of what societal events were like during the Georgian era.

Architecture will be top of mind as you walk to the Circus — three curved segments of townhouses designed by architect John Wood, the Elder — and the Royal Crescent, a row of 30 Georgian terraced houses designed by John Wood, the Younger. Complete the loop by visiting the Roman Baths; just make sure to book a timed ticket beforehand. Paddock describes the historic attraction as “an immersive experience” and a “marvellous walk through Roman history.”

Discover the city from a different viewpoint via the Bath Skyline walk

On day two of your trip, you’ll want to get outside of the city centre. The Bath Skyline walk is the perfect way to do so, as the circular route loops through the countryside and provides panoramic views of the city’s limestone buildings in the distance. If you don’t want to walk the full six miles (9.6 km), Lowkes recommends at least walking up Bathwick Hill and into Bathwick Meadows — especially right before golden hour. “Find a picnic spot. Open a bottle of something expensive for absolutely no reason, and take in the city’s panorama as the evening draws in,” he says. “The smell of the meadow in summer, the feel of the soft grasses, the taste of the wine, and the sounds of the city below will make you fall in love with Bath.”

Spend a day exploring Bath’s museums

Given Bath’s dedication to preserving history, it should come as no surprise the city is filled with top-rated museums. Bridgerton fans will recognise The Holburne Museum as Lady Danbury’s house, but the real building houses a variety of permanent and rotating art exhibitions and programming. Paddock calls it “one of Bath’s best-hidden gems.” No. 1 Royal Crescent is an immersive museum experience, with visitors getting the opportunity to walk through a restored townhouse, decorated as it would have been in the late 18th century.

The American Museum & Gardens, located just outside the centre of Bath, might be an unexpected addition to the itinerary, but its collection of American folk art, quilts, textiles, and furniture is extensive — and fascinating to view from a different geographical perspective. Finally, bibliophiles will want to leave some time to stop by the Jane Austen Centre to learn about the writer’s life, family, and legacy.

Hop on a boat tour down the River Avon

When you’re tired of walking, a boat tour along the River Avon awaits. Pulteney Cruisers offers a quick out-and-back ride — just one hour in total — that goes under the Pulteney Bridge and into the Avon Valley. Look out for wildlife as your captain details various points of interest and historical facts. No need to book tickets in advance; you’ll pay the GBP 12 (INR 1,254) fee when you board the boat at Pulteney Weir.

Image credit: Lyndia Mansel/Travel + Leisure

Best restaurants

Landrace and Upstairs at Landrace

No trip to Bath is complete without grabbing a freshly baked cardamom bun (or cinnamon, if you prefer), sausage roll, and a loaf of sourdough bread from Landrace. The artisanal bakery on Walcot Street is small in size but impressive in nature; while you wait for your warm drink, peruse the expertly curated shelves of dry goods, olive oils, cheeses, and more. If you go up the bakery’s spiral staircase, you’ll enter Upstairs at Landrace, a cosy space to enjoy your bun and coffee or have lunch and dinner. The seasonal British dishes are posted on the restaurant’s chalkboard, and reservations are recommended.

The Beckford Bottle Shop & Bistro

When the weather cooperates, The Beckford Bottle Shop & Bistro‘s outdoor tables are full of patrons trying a bottle of something new — or a wine they return to again and again. The inside, with its Chesterfield sofas and window seats, is just as appealing when it’s a bit gloomier outside. The bottle and bistro adjoin, so you can either take a bottle to go or stay for small plates, snacks, a charcuterie board, and dessert. The entire operation is a perfect example of what makes Bath so special; it’s charming without being cloying, and stylish while still feeling welcoming.

Clayton’s Kitchen

“I’m a huge supporter of family-owned restaurants, as they have so much passion for what they do and always use fresh, local produce,” says Paddock. Clayton’s Kitchen falls into that category, with chef and owner Robert Clayton helming the menu, which the restaurant describes as “British and Mediterranean with a twist.” Paddock adds, “When you dine there, the whole experience feels like you’re being treated as one of the family.”

The Scallop Shell

When dining at The Scallop Shell, Lowkes says you can expect “a diverse crowd, a nice mix of locals and tourists… and so much soul.” Fish and chips is the restaurant’s speciality, and there’s a clear focus on both nostalgia and sustainability; the fish comes from small artisan day boats, and the potatoes are grown on family farms.

Hare & Hounds

The walk to Hare & Hounds isn’t easy; you’ll head straight uphill for about a mile from the city centre. The view and food at the final destination, though, are worth the effort. Opt to dine on the outdoor patio overlooking the countryside, or fill up with traditional pub food inside, where the fireplace will keep you warm. If you’re looking for a Sunday roast and a pint to wash it all down, this is the place to go.

Best shopping

Topping & Company Booksellers

Bath locals and visitors have their pick of bookstores in the city, but both Paddock and Lowkes recommend Topping & Company. “It’s a one-off quirky experience, a must for passionate book lovers,” says Paddock, who notes its new location is inside a “stunning old Quaker meeting house.” Lowkes also shares that travellers should “try and attend a cookbook launch” when in town: “Rakesh will be pouring wine. There’ll be food. It’s a whole vibe.”

Beau Nash

As you stroll between the Circus and the Royal Crescent, there’s a good chance Beau Nash antique store will catch your eye. “They have some fabulous pieces in store,” says Paddock. The collection includes everything from antique silver drinkware to 19th-century mirrors, lamps, and tea kettles.

Newton farm shop

You’ll need to venture out of the main part of Bath if you want to discover one of Lowkes’ top choices. “It’s outside of the city, but the Newton Farm Shop (in Newton St Loe) is one of my favourite places to buy ingredients for a Sunday roast,” says Lowkes. “Their little cafe menu is full of heart, and their well-stocked butcher’s counter is always staffed by helpful folk and stacked with quality farm-reared meats.”

Bartlett Street Antiques Centre

Image credit: Geography Photos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If you’re searching for an interesting, unexpected souvenir, check out Bartlett Street Antiques Centre. Various dealers have their selections of antique jewellery, homeware, art, and decorative items on display throughout the building, and finding a piece that speaks to you is akin to a treasure hunt.

Best time to visit

Image credit: serts/Getty Images

Paddock recommends visiting Bath in the spring or fall, “purely because there are [fewer] tourists milling about, and most children are at school.” Plus, he says, the weather will be “pleasant for wandering around and sightseeing.” Summertime is Bath’s peak season, so try to avoid July, August, and early September if you want to see the city without as many crowds. Winter is technically off-season, so it’s a good time to take advantage of lower hotel rates — although some of the shops and museums may be closed for a few weeks.

How to get there

Getting from London to Bath is quick and easy. Download the Trainline app and book a ticket from London Paddington to Bath Spa. Depending on the stops along the route, the journey will take anywhere from 1.5 to two hours. Try to grab a window seat, as you’ll be able to glimpse various pastoral scenes — cows, cottages, and green pastures — along the way. Once you arrive in Bath, you can either walk to your destination or call an Uber; taxis are also readily available at the train station.

How to get around

Bath is best explored by foot, although its hills and cobblestones aren’t for the faint of heart. Be sure to bring your best walking shoes and familiarise yourself with the city’s layout and points of interest prior to arrival. If you plan on venturing out of the city centre and into the smaller towns and villages surrounding Bath, you’ll want to rent a car; you can either pick up a rental in Bath or take an Uber to nearby Bristol. In my experience, the latter option can be more cost-effective, depending on the length of your trip.


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All currency conversions were done at the time of writing

(Feature Image Credit: Nigel Battrick/Getty Images)

This story first appeared on travelandleisure.com

Related: The Best Places To Stay In England To Live Out Your ‘Bridgerton’ Fantasies






Written By

Lydia Mansel

Lydia Mansel

Image credit: nigel battrick/Getty Images If you’re one of the millions of people who couldn’t get enough of Netflix’s hit Bridgerton, you’ve already had a glimpse of the Georgian architecture and glamour of Bath, England. Located in Somerset, a region directly west of London, Bath is recognisable for a variety of features, including its buildings…

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