TRAVEL// A locals guide to Bath
This week we have headed to the eye wateringly beautiful city of Bath for the third edition in our travel series.
Bath is simply stunning, filled with green spaces, an abundance of independent stores, soooo many delicious places to eat, spas galore (always a winner for us)....and the architecture is just incredible. We spoke with Emma Frayling from Visit Bath to hear all about her favourite places in the city.
Emma, thank you so much for speaking with us, tell us about yourself, how long have you lived in Bath and what do you love most about the city?
I live around half an hour outside of the Bath in a town called Frome, but I have worked in the city now for over 6 years. Both my parents were born and brought up in Bath and I grew up in the area, so I know it well. I have been at Visit Bath now for 4 years looking after the PR and Comms and working with travel media and bloggers from the UK and all over the world.
Describe your perfect day wandering around the city – where do you go, what do you do?
I love the contrast of living in a small town but working in a city. Bath city centre is incredibly compact and very walkable, so you don’t need public transport to get around it. I spend a lot of my time in the independent shops (not good for my credit card), and surprisingly Bath has many open spaces, parks and gardens to enjoy the sunshine, so I can often be found in one of them on my lunch break. There are so many great independent cafes, bars and restaurants in Bath – meeting a friend for a bite to eat or a drink after work is one of my favourite things to do. I also love a trip to Bath Thermae Spa – the view from the roof top pool while bathing in the naturally heated spa water is incredible, an experience not to be missed. I hope it can open again soon.
Where would you take visitors to show them the ‘real’ Bath?
I would take them along Walcot Street - affectionately known as Bath’s Artisan Quarter since the 60’s, it has a real community vibe and also Green Park Station; which holds some great markets including the Saturday Farmers’ Market and the monthly Vintage and Antiques Market.
Where’s your favourite area in the city and why?
I think the northern part of the city centre is probably my favourite area, it has a real cosmopolitan vibe and stunning Georgian architecture: from the shops and restaurants in and around Milsom Street, the independent boutiques and galleries on Bartlett Street and Marlborough Buildings to the iconic Royal Crescent and Circus which really do take your breath away.
What would you say is Baths best kept secret?
In the summer definitely Bath on the Beach - a Caribbean summer beach venue with sand, games, cocktails and food right in the heart of the city! And the other Crescents - although the Royal Crescent is the city’s most famous, there are actually many others to explore including Lansdown Crescent, Norfolk Crescent, Cavendish Crescent and Camden Crescent - where Manolo Blahnik owns a house.
When you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre, where do you head to?
Obviously Frome is fabulous to wander around and the recently opened Newt in Somerset is wonderful – the gardens are exquisite and the new exhibition The History of Gardening is so absorbing, they have thousands of apple trees and you can watch the apple juice and cider being made. Somerset Lavender is gorgeous too – you’ll get some lovely pictures of the lavender fields if you visit between July and September. Wells is England’s smallest city so worth a visit and Kilver Court Designer Outlet Village and Gardens in Shepton Mallet is where you’ll find the Mulberry outlet shop! Bath also borders Wiltshire – I love pottering around the towns and villages such as Bradford-On-Avon, Castle Carey with its bridge over the river (a popular Instagram pic), Corsham and Lacock – where some of Harry Potter was filmed. If you have kids Longleat and Bowood House and Gardens are great family places.
When in need of a little retail therapy, where do you head to?
So many to choose from!! For fashion labels I go to Portman Bath and Grace and Mabel, for books Topping & Company and Mr B’s Emporium and for interiors and gifts: French Grey, Rossiters of Bath (an independent department store) and Graham and Green. Another favourite is Magalleria - a wonderful shop full of independent and specialist magazines.
Are there any hidden gems you can recommend?
Swoon Gelato on Kingsmead Square is probably the best gelato I’ve ever tasted – it literally melts on your tongue and the team are wonderful at letting you try all the flavours. I love Sweet Little Things tearoom and bakery for their breakfast pancakes and afternoon teas, La Pinxto for Tapas and Underwood for contemporary cuisine with views of Pulteney weir. Komedia is a great entertainment venue for music and comedy and Tivoli is the ultimate luxury cinema experience. Milsom Place tucked away off Milsom Street is great for independent shops and al fresco dining. No. 15 Great Pulteney is one of my favourite boutique hotels in the city, full of quirky art and individual touches.
What are you top 3 tips for visiting the city?
Bath is very popular at weekends, so try and come mid-week and make the most of special offers and reduced room rates. Bath was built in the era of Jane Austen and horse-drawn carriages, and not for cars so use the park and ride if you can avoid the traffic! Take home some Bath Soft Cheese, a Sally Lunn Bunn or some Jane Austen Gin!
When is your favourite time of year in the city and why?
The Autumn is a wonderful time of year in Bath; when the sun starts to get lower in the sky as the day comes to a close, the light reflecting of the Bath stone buildings is beautiful - we call this the golden hour. I also love Bath at Christmas time when Bath Christmas Market is on – it is a magical time to visit.
Bath’s Best Bits;
Coffee – The Provenist
Dinner – Noya’s Kitchen
Brunch – The Good Day Café
Drinks – Sub 13
A little culture – The Holburne Museum
A pamper session – The Garden Spa by L’Occitane at The Bath Priory Hotel
Push the boat out luxury hotel – The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa
Somewhere to stay which is a little more budget friendly – The Bird, Bath
*Please check individual websites and social media for opening details and social distancing measures.
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