Posted by: Sarah Lee | November 18, 2009

Dipping a toe into Bath

The city centre from Bath Abbey Tower

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I have to confess all too often I’m lured away from the UK to foreign shores. Consequently I’m not very well travelled here and have never been to the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands, Cornwall, or some of our most exciting cities like Liverpool, York, and until recently, Bath.

I have to say I fell in love with Bath – it is Georgian-class personified.

I was lucky enough to have some inside information on its attractions courtesy of the tourist board and some other contacts, but if you want to really discover Bath you’ll need a good guide, such as the newly revised free online Schmap guide. I’m not just recommending it because it features one of the photos I took on my trip (honest!), but because it’s mobile, techie and sexy.

The guidebook has been revolutionised lately. I still love a good old paperback guidebook, but as a devoted fan of Apple apps I have also bought a couple of guides for my iPod. The interactivity of the maps, direct links to websites, dynamic gps search and ability to carry them absolutely anywhere make apps and mobile guides like Schmap a must.

So what of Bath itself? Well my favourite attractions are:

  • Thermae Bath Spa: yes the ancient Roman Baths are incredible – a fascinating step back in time with an excellent audio tour. But nothing can beat the blissfully relaxing experience of a soak at the open-air rooftop pool taking in the city, or floating in the Minerva bath propelled by a gentle wave action. You might bump into other bathers or a pillar, like a very gentle dodgem car bouncing around a track, but you’ll be too relaxed to care.
  • Bath Abbey: I’m not much of a walker, so the idea of hiking up 212 steps will never fill me with joy, but reaching the top of the abbey’s tower was a treat – 360º views of the city centre and surrounding countryside as well as experiencing the ear-shattering midday bell chimes.
  • Sally Lunns: Not your average afternoon tea, don’t miss the Sally Lunn Bun. They were so good I even had to bring some home.
  • The Kennard: This Georgian beauty offered more than just a bed for the weekend. It’s owners Mary and Giovanni have really worked hard to preserve it’s 18th-century splendour, with a quaint dining room, richly decorated bedrooms with fluffy towels and Molton Brown toileteries (always nice), and a city centre location with free parking and wifi throughout. Doesn’t get much better.
  • Bizzare Bath: A brilliantly funny tour of the city centre (actually you don’t go very far, but who cares, you laugh a lot!).

Better still book your hotel, get your Schmap guide and check out Bath’s Christmas market from November 26 to December 6 – it looks gorgeously festive.

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