There's nothing more I like than exploring a city - whether it's new to me or not - and as I was offered a hotel stay a couple of weekends ago to review the historic city of Bath I simply couldn't resist!
The hotel stay was provided by Hertz as part of the Hertz City Swap, and the offer included one night's stay at the Wells House Manor just outside Bath; this is close enough to drive to the park and ride and enjoy all the sights that this beautiful city has to offer - after my outfit details I have a little review of my weekend there and what you can do in Bath if you're on a budget (it is quite an expensive part of the country).
I'm well practised in the art of what to wear for a day's sightseeing: the basics being comfy shoes for walking, layers and a good pair of sunglasses. Although jeans are the go-to item most people reach for first, I like to go for something a bit brighter, so the first choice was my leopard print skinnies, which are now super cheap in the Asos sale (go get a pair)! It's typical warm-one-minute-cold-the-next weather in the UK at the moment, so a blazer is practical, and sightseeing is the time when a large collection of brogues to choose from comes in handy.
If you're planning a trip to the UK and you can go somewhere other than London, choose Bath - you will not be disappointed. Read on for my review that explains why...!
We went straight from home (near Exeter) to Bath itself on the Saturday evening to make the most of a few hours there before going onto the hotel for the night. There was time to catch some of the shops still open for an hour or so before looking for the restaurant I'd looked up online: a Moroccan restaurant called the Café du Globe (1A North Parade), Bath's only restaurant serving authentic Moroccan cuisine. It was very small but all the cosier for it - we turned up just before 7pm without a booking and got a table by the window.
It's been beautifully decorated and was very intimate; it felt really authentic. The staff were lovely right from the off which is always a good sign - we ordered olives and Moroccan bread to start, and when you have starters like that (the breads were heaven), you know the rest of the meal is going to be good. I knew I wanted lamb tagine and there was a choice of cous cous, saffron rice or Moroccan bread to go with it (I chose cous cous which was cooked to perfection). And basically the lamb was to die for. It was melt-in-the-mouth, there was loads of meat in the dish and it came in an authentic tagine... perfect.
I love it when there's no pandering to British tastes or expectations in a restaurant (knives and forks in a Chinese, for example?!), and Café du Globe certainly don't do any of that; when they said authentic, they meant it. The staff were attentive and exceptionally friendly, and at night it looks stunning from the outside with it's olde worlde-style shop exterior and hanging fairy lights. This restaurant is definitely one to recommend.
After we'd had our fill of Moroccan breads, tagine and sticky toffee apple fudge cake(!) we decided to go onto the hotel for a good night's sleep. The Well House Manor is in Melksham, about a half drive east of Bath, a lovely old red brick manor house with plenty of parking and the most gorgeous Victorian tiled floor in the lobby. We were showed to our room which was extremely spacious; it had the comfiest armchair and one of the best selections of coffee, tea (lots of herbal and green teas which pleased me) and hot chocolate I've ever seen in a hotel. It had the epitome of hotel bathrooms - a truly fabulous walk-in shower and loads of great toiletries. I was happy, to say the least...!
Well House Manor don't do a cooked breakfast but offer a continental breakfast instead, which is absolutely fine with me. Breakfast was quite an unusual set up for a hotel; you helped yourself to everything - including tea and coffee - which I prefer; there were cereals and porridge, pastries, cold meats and cheese, yoghurts and best of all: DIY freshly squeezed orange juice (my favourite part). When we were shown the communal breakfast table the night before I have to admit my heart sank a little - I am not a particularly awake or sociable person in the morning so conversation with strangers is a struggle for me at breakfast time. Luckily the two other couples already at the table were chatty types which was fortunate, considering my half comatose state.
So after a lovely breakfast we packed up and left for the park and ride bus to get us to the centre of Bath, which is the best way to spend a full day in most city centres. Our first stop was the tourist information centre next to the Abbey to pick up two official Bath Visitor Cards which give you discount off restaurants, museums, shops and tours and is valid for a couple of weeks (and only £3 to buy).
Bath, if you've never visited it before, is an absolutely stunning city. The architecture is breathtaking; it has to be one of the best architectural examples of a Georgian city anywhere in the world. It is also culturally rich - it's hugely popular with tourists as it has fantastic museums, theatres and restaurants... not to mention shopping (boutiques galore!).
I've been to the brilliant Fashion Museum twice before, so this time Mr. Summers was treated to a trip to the lovely Herschel Museum of Astronomy at 19 New King Street, the actual house where the 18th Century astronomer William Herschel lived and worked. I love visiting the actual houses where famous people lived (like going to Shakespeare's house) - I go from room to room thinking "wow, this is where ____ would have slept/dressed/eaten. They would have touched this door! They would have touched this wall!". We took the outfit photos in the beautiful garden by his plaque - again, the actual garden where he had his telescope set up and discovered new planets and stars. As well a being an astronomy fan myself I just love little pieces of history in small corners of the world like that...!
In the afternoon we had lunch in The Westgate pub on Westgate Street (15% discount off your main meal on Sundays with the visitor card), but we didn't know there was a Bath rugby match being shown on the big screen on so the food took a while...a common occurrence in Bath I'm sure. After that we went to the Victoria Art Gallery on Bridge Street which is free to enter and well worth a visit. The main gallery is stunning (almost like a miniature National Portrait gallery) with its royal blue walls, highly decorative ceiling and amazing seats - they were the best museum seats I’ve ever sat on and the whole room, not just the artwork, was rather impressive. It's a beautifully serene place to go and chill and while away the afternoon.
One thing I've not visited before in all the times I've visited Bath is Pulteney Bridge - an amazing Palladian style bridge which was built about 1774 and is one of only four bridges in the world with shops across both sides. We spotted a café down by the waterside which turned out to be the Riverside Café, where we had delicious maple and pecan cake with green tea and hot chocolate, with the most fantastic view out onto the river from just inside the café. I only just found out (warning: Les Mis movie spoiler alert!) that the weir is the setting of Russell Crowe's spectacular suicide jump in Les Misérables, though he must have projected himself an awful long way forward to have smacked himself on the weir as he came down ;)
So I have to thank Hertz for a fantastic weekend - the hotel was a great choice, and we definitely explored Bath more than we normally do/have done in the past. It is possible to do large cities on a budget - you may not be able to get into all the places of interest for free, but there's no shortage of things to do and see.
So how many of you have been to Bath - and what did you do? If you're planning a trip to the UK and want to go somewhere other than London, let me know if I've swayed you!
Shop my look!
Skinny jeans: Asos, Top: Thrifted, Blazer: La Redoute, Brogues: eBay, Sunglasses: Asos, Bag: Karen Millen, Tiger necklace: Hannah Zakari, Circles necklace: Naive Melodies (use code LAMB25 for 25% off their Etsy shop)
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