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Travel: why the jewel in Somerset's crown is well worth a visit

Russ Bravo explores Bath – the genteel city forever linked with Georgian splendour and the world of Jane Austen ...

RUSS BRAVO explores Bath – the jewel in Somerset’s crown and forever linked with Georgian splendour and the world of Jane Austen

The city of Bath almost feels purpose-built for leisurely short breaks. It’s probably the winning combination of stunning architecture and wide pavements, but you feel inclined to saunter at all times.

So on our recent visit, we found ourselves caught between a desire to enjoy the city’s elegance and charm at a gentle pace, and the fact that with only a couple of days at our disposal, there was so much we wanted to see.

We stayed at Henrietta House, a delightful boutique hotel within a few minutes’ walk of the city centre. An attractive, double fronted Georgian townhouse, it was totally renovated in 2011 to provide comfortable and friendly accommodation – we found the food and the service excellent.

Getting round the city is easy: most attractions are walkable but if not the red, open top buses regularly make a circuit of many of the tourist attractions. Here’s our top five of places and experiences you’ll want to take in during your visit.

Bath Abbey and Heritage Vaults Museum
Begun in 1499, the abbey is the last of the great medieval churches of England. Soaring architecture, great stained glass windows. Look out for ascending angels.

Jane Austen Centre
An authentic period atmosphere to celebrate the city’s most famous resident. Offers a snapshot of Regency times with live guides, film and a quaint tearoom.

Roman Baths
The heart of Bath’s World Heritage Site around Britain’s only hot spring. Walk where the Romans walked and sip the minerals. Beautifully lit in the evenings. There’s also the rooftop Thermae Bath Spa for great views of the city.

No 1 Royal Crescent
One of Britain’s grandest addresses, the Royal Crescent was designed by John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1775. No 1 features 10 historic rooms restored to bring a taste of Georgian life to the 21st century.

Afternoon Tea – Sally Lunn’s and The Pump Room
Take tea in the social heart of Bath: The Pump Room, where hot spa water is drawn for drinking and a string quartet plays. Or visit Sally Lunn’s, the oldest house in the city (c1482) and taste the famed original Sally Lunn bun.

There are museums and galleries aplenty – check out particularly the Fashion Museum (Laura Ashley was featured when we visited), the magnificently quirky Holburne Museum, and the Museum of Bath at Work (fascinating and filled with bygone workshops and factory scenes).

Take a cruise on the river if you can – there are a variety of boats and cruisers you can book a seat on, and the commentary is always entertaining.

As an aside, you’ll find plenty of outdoor music on offer in the city, and we were encouraged to see local churches active in offering Healing On The Streets, a prayer initiative for anyone to share needs and receive prayer in the square by Bath Abbey.

One thing you can guarantee with a visit to Bath: once you’ve been once, you’ll be back.

INFO
Find out all you need to know at www.visitbath.co.uk or call 0844 847 5256 to book accommodation and tickets.

Photos: visitbath.co.uk Copyright: Bath Tourism Plus / Colin Hawkins

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