When you live in a city like London, often it’s so tempting to grab a cheap flight to another country that you forget what’s in your own backyard. But because I’m Australian and I’m seeing everything with fresh eyes, it’s easy to spot the charm and beauty of the country towns and historical centres that are within a couple of hours of central London. I’ve teamed up with Expedia to throw a few ideas your way about how you can plan and book your short UK break.
There are loads of ways to get out of London quickly and be among cute villages in no time. Trains (search here for times and prices) are a great option because you can get comfortable and let someone else do the driving, but last weekend Scott and I rented a car and explored parts of Kent and Surrey before moving on to the beautiful town of Bath in South West England. Some of the best hidden treasures we’ve found have been the result of getting a little lost on B roads between villages.
There was the time when we stumbled upon the stunning village of Bibury, and then discovered some of the surrounding B&Bs and gastropubs – click here to see some of the beautiful inns that can host you in the Cotswolds. It all looks straight out of a movie set, and it’s even better in real life.
Anyway moving onto Bath, this is somewhere that I really love because its stunning stonework makes for a great backdrop for a blogger or for photographers in general. And it has everything – amazing history, great nightlife in the form of tapas and bars and pubs, and it also has some extremely beautiful places to stay. Oh, and the fact that it is built around a Roman bath gives you plenty of options to soak in luxury during stays in the colder months.
Here are some tips to consider when you’re planning your Bath city break:
Where to Stay
The Gainsborough Bath Spa: During this trip we stayed at The Gainsborough Bath Spa. As the name suggests, its trademark feature is the oasis that sits underneath the hotel, which includes three different temperature hot pools, a sauna, a steam room and an infrared sauna. Play around with dates and if you can manage to stay on a weekday, you’ll notice a big drop in rates. This hotel is quite posh (you kind of get spoken to like you’re royalty) and while it was a lovely place to stay and in the heart of town, you can find other great places close by to save yourself some cash.
The Queensberry Hotel: We stayed here previously and loved it. It’s a 5 minute walk north from the centre, has really nice and spacious rooms and a wonderful breakfast. I would say this one has a warmer atmosphere than the first and will also help you uncover some great restaurants and bars that are probably frequented more by locals than the busier centre near the Roman Bath.
There are loads of places to stay in Bath and there are plenty of taxis and Uber cars, so don’t get too hung up on staying right in the middle of things. You’ll end up exploring so much that you won’t spend much time in the hotel anyway – click here to see the full list places to stay.
What to eat
Pie & Chips at The Raven: This is my husband’s favourite, lots of ales and they’re famous for their pies. Also make sure you take a look at the dates section of the Bath Storytelling Circle website – you might be lucky enough to catch some folk stories and poems straight from the mouths of locals, as we were during our last visit. Amazing night.
Sunday Roast at The Chequers: Classic British Sunday roast in a quality gastropub atmosphere. Highly recommended, make sure you book in advance – it gets busy.
Late night snacks and wine at Ole Tapas: If you had a late lunch and skipped dinner, don’t worry – this place stays open until 11pm on weekends. Really buzzy vibe, gets very busy, the waiters must just run on adrenaline – they never stop. Good fun for a small group if you can snare a table.
What to do
Visit The Roman Baths: The Romans started building this complex in 60 AD or so, so you’ll need to spend some time getting your mind to comprehend how old it is. It’s a must do and you might want to watch a documentary or two before heading along so you can build the anticipation.
Thermae Bath Spa: When in Rome, do as the Romans do! Although it’s a little pricey at £38 a visit, it would be a shame to visit Bath and not transport yourself back in time with a soak, just like the Roman socialites did several hundred years ago. Like most things in Bath, make sure you book in advance.
A Tour by the Mayor’s Honorary Guides: An amazing service run by volunteers and provided by the town Mayor’s office, meet at the Pump House next to the baths at 10:30am or 2pm Sunday-Friday, or 10:30am Saturday. Best of all, it’s absolutely free!
There are lots of other things to do in Bath that are well covered, like visiting the Royal Abbey or The Royal Crescent. But if you don’t have time to tick every box, the three things covered above with give you a great taste of what makes this town so special.
- From Bath, you’re about one hour from the heart of The Cotswolds, where you’ll arguably find the most beautiful villages and pubs in Britain – try and get time for a visit on the way in or out. We had a beautiful lunch in front of an open fire at The Swan Inn at Swinbrook the last time we went.
- If Bath isn’t historic enough for you, Stonehenge is about 5,000 years old and less than an hour away.
- If you’re driving from London, there’s a beautiful little Tudor pub with an open fire and great food called The White Horse – great if you’re not in a hurry and you don’t mind a little 8 mile detour off the M4 on the way home.
- The train station in Bath is very central and if you’re staying outside of the centre you can always get a taxi or Uber from the station
- If you do drive, a lot of the hotels will try and charge you high valet fees. Parking for about £15 a night is available at quite a few parking stations around the centre – check out Parkopedia and then you can just pay with card or coins at the machine.
* Sponsored article disclaimer: Although this article is sponsored, all opinions are my own. Ash x