Victoria Visits: Bath

Last week I went on my second holiday in eight weeks! I know, what a jet-setting life I lead – not really, it was the annual getaway with my mum that had been booked for months, and was my second holiday this year.

As we always do, Mum and I went to Bath, which is one of our favourite places. We’ve been coming here for a few years and our visit has two purposes, which are simply relaxation and shopping.

Relaxation takes place at the Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel. Yes, it’s part of a chain, but it’s really quite a unique place in its own right.

First of all, it’s an amazing building.

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That’s the main door. It looks like some epic mansion house, which I think it might have been in a past life. My knowledge of the hotel is a bit sketchy despite having been here so often.

We always book two Skyline rooms, which offer amazing views over the city. If you have a Skyline room, you get sunsets like this:

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Excuse the reflection, the windows of the hotel don’t open very far because of air conditioning reasons. And that’s not a UFO, that’s the light in the room!

Sunsets over the city, and also early morning fog like this:

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The views are the reasons we book the Skyline view rooms, although any room in the Bath Spa is nice (despite some of the TripAdvisor reviews – seriously? Did you one-star guys even stay at the same hotel as we did?). Some of them are a tad tired, but the hotel is slowly being freshened up (so I’ve been told) and hopefully next year they should all be finished (again, so I was told). There were workmen and people with paintbrushes walking around while we were there, so renovations continue, I assume. Also this year we got a bottle of prosecco in our rooms, which was a nice touch we hadn’t had in previous years. I am not sure if that’s because of the rate we were on or the rooms we had, but it was much appreciated.

The first day of our holiday, we always go for a walk round the gardens of the hotel so I can see my friend, the statue that lives in the grounds.

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It’s become a bit of a running joke that she’s my friend because one year we came here and I got really annoyed that she had snails crawling all over her, so we go and see her so I can pick off the snails and make her all pretty again. She’s a lovely statue, and the gardens are nice. There’s a grotto in them too, which I didn’t take a picture of, but here’s more of a view of the gardens:

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It’s a lovely place to sit and relax, and one evening the light was very nice and I took this photo:

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I love how the sky looks and also how the big tree in the garden is all in its autumnal colours now. It’s beautiful in Bath at this time of year, which is the reason we always go in October.

So, that’s the hotel. We like it because of its location, the views, the beds (with my bad back, these beds are fine), and most of all the food. Oh, the food! Literally anything you order here for lunch or dinner will be good. Breakfast however can be… variable… in quality but that’s the only gripe we’ve ever had with the food in all the years we’ve been coming here. It’s sometimes best to just grab a few croissants off the buffet and then go into town for a hot breakfast somewhere. That’s personal opinon, but then I have to be picky and careful because of my Crohn’s disease.

There’s also not many vegetarian choices at the hotel, so I have to break my ‘no meat during the week’ thing when we stay here. My favourite thing on the menu is the battered cod and thick cut chips. Perfect batter, perfect chips and home made tartar sauce. I’m such a sucker for tartar sauce, and it’s particularly good here.

The staff are lovely too – if any of you go to the Bath Spa after reading this, Lawrence the concierge and Jack the waiter in the Colonnade bar are great and will look after you very well. If by some miracle they see this, then thank you both very much for being so cheerful and helpful during our stay.

Bath itself is a great city. There’s so much to do, whether you’re there to shop or to do ‘the tourist thing’. We keep trying to do ‘the tourist thing’ but end up shopping instead. Although this year we did manage to do a museum! This one, specifically:

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That’s the back of the Holbourne museum, right down the road from the hotel and a place we’ve walked past umpteen times and never been in. This year we said we would, and we did. It’s lovely, with some gorgeous artworks and if you’re a fan of porcelain, you’ll love it. There was a lot of cooing from us because we like a nice piece of porcelain, and there’s some fantastic examples in this collection. There’s a cute shop too, with a selection of gifts and books.

And outside, there’s a little green space that was covered with leaves, and the day we went, we encountered The Happiest Spaniel Ever. He was playing in the leaves with his owner and I honestly have never seen a dog enjoy himself more. His owner saw we were looking and laughing and invited us to play but we declined – we had places to be! There are some lovely parks in Bath, if you do have a dog and want to indulge in some leaf-based fun. Sydney Gardens, which is where the museum sits, is lovely.

Leaving the museum, you will see Great Pulteney Street in front of you, which is a wide road leading to Pulteney Bridge. There are shops and a lovely cafe on the bridge, and further along is a bakery which does giant meringues. Get one. It will take you all day to consume, but get one! Once you’ve crossed the bridge, you’re into Bath proper, and your shopping can begin.

Shopping in Bath is a mix of your typical High Street shops and smaller independent retailers. The independent shops tend to be in the older part of the city, (do check out Milsom Place, just off Milsom Street which I discuss below) and the high street chains are spread all over. There’s branches of Anthropologie, Seasalt, All Saints and Urban Outfitters to name just a few, and there’s something for everyone.

Milsom Street houses Cafe Rouge, Waterstones, Jolly’s (House of Fraser) and several other shops, but of particular note this year was the appearance of this:

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Anyone who has an Internet connection, uses Instagram or follows fashion bloggers will no doubt have heard of Abbott Lyon. I first became aware of the brand when I was searching around for a new watch to replace my battered but ever faithful Toy, which is rather elderly and has lost some of its sparkle. The watches by Abbott Lyon appealed because of their simple design and the fact you can switch out the straps, plus they’re all under £100 (a little more if you buy a second strap) so I was on the hunt for one.

I thought Abbott Lyon was online only, so when I saw this I did squeak at my mum excitedly, so of course we had to go inside. The lovely staff member made us feel very welcome, and it turns out this is a pop up shop until January, rather than a permanent shop. Regardless, I was very pleased it was there because now I could actually try on the watches and find the one I wanted rather than browsing online and wondering if I’d pick the right one.

The right one came to me in the form of the rose gold and black Kensington 40 – I had seen it online but it said ‘sold out’. There also weren’t any in the shop, apart from the display model… so I am now the proud owner of the display model! Which doesn’t matter, because I’ve got the watch I want and I can’t stop smiling every time I wear it (or even look at it). It’s wonderful.

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So the shops in Bath are fantastic, and serendipity will sometimes smile on you if you’re after a specific item! This is the third year in a row I’ve found something so wonderful and perfect in this city that I’d never have got at home. It’s good to shop in different places, I think – people get used to their home towns and sometimes being somewhere different, even if there are similar shops, can mean you find that perfect piece.

I had a lovely week. I really recommend that everyone visits Bath. The Bath Spa is at the higher end of the price scale, but there’s plenty of hotels and guest houses in the city to stay at if you’re on more of a budget. The Apex and Number 15 Great Pulteney are two that have good reviews, plus there’s the ever-reliable Premier Inn.

And finally, the drive from Surrey to Bath is wonderful. The scenery is great – or rather, it is when the place isn’t covered in fog! Behold Stonehenge.

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Or not! It’s in there somewhere!

Visit Bath, guys. It’s really great. And if you drive down on a not-foggy day, you might even see Stonehenge properly!

(All views are my own and I have not been paid to review anything in this post)

 

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