Trip report: three nights in Bath

Mar 30th, 2007, 01:51 PM
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Trip report: three nights in Bath

Just home from a short trip to Bath, and I thought this might be of interest to anyone planning a visit to Bath.

We arrived (by train) just before lunch time on Tuesday, and unloaded at our B&B, the Crescent guesthouse. This has recently changed hands, and didn't look quite as charming in person as it did on the website, but overall it was a good choice and good value for money. The rooms were very small, and the road is very busy (I found the traffic in general pretty bad in Bath), but the landlady was very helpful and accommodating (e.g. providing fresh milk for tea in the room), and it was only a short walk into the city centre.

We had a light lunch (really afernoon tea but at lunchtime) at Sally Lunn's teashop, which was pretty good (apart from the Diet Coke which was flat) and not as overpriced as it might have been. The mini-mueeum in the basement was interesting too, with the original monastic oven. We then looked around the Abbey Church, which was beautiful if not unique. We were particularly impressed by the modern embroidery work. The vaults museum is worth a small detour, too. Then we saw the Roman Baths. Although these are really expensive to visit, and extremely crowded with large school groups, it's probably the one place not to miss if you have limited time. We ate that evening at the Firehouse Rotisserie - modern Californian style cooking, very good.

Wednesday morning we went on the Mayor of Bath's Guides free walking tour. This is two hours, or just over, and leaves twice daily most days from outside the Pump Room. Again, it's something I would really recommend, as it gives a great overview of Bath. Included in the price is a free glass of water from the springs - worth trying for the experience, but utterly disgusting. We lunched at the Courtyard Cafe, round the corner from the Abbey, which was pleasant, quiet and seemed more like a place locals would go to than a tourist trap; nice cakes. We then went uphill to the Assembly Rooms, which were lovely (especially fascinating to Jane Austen fans), and the Costume Museum in the basement, which was a massive disappointment, as most of it (the whole of the permanent display) was not on show, apparently because they were doing refurbishments.

We moved on while we were on the hill to 1 The Royal Crescent, one of the houses in the Crescent which is run by the Bath Preservation Trust as a museum, with a very fine collection of mainly 18th century furnishings. My travelling companion then had a hot chocolate in a little strudel cafe called Hansel and Gretel in Margaret's Buildings while I investigated a second hand bookshop. We walked down to the B&B through Victoria Park. We ate that night at Strada, an Italian restaurant in the house once owned by Beau Nash and his mistress, next to the Theatre Royal (it used to be fairly well known restaurant called Popjoys). The food was good and the building had a nice ambience.

Thursday we went to the Holburne Museum, at the end of Great Pulteney Street. This is a small but very good art and objets d'art museum, which is planning a major extension in the next few years. The present teahouse is lacking in charm, although the cakes looked nice (we just had a drink). My travelling companion then went shopping, and I climbed the hills again to see the Building of Bath Museum. This was another highlight for me, in the chapel built for the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, and with a lot of instructive detail on the Georgian development of the city. I had intended to see the East Asian Art musum while in the higher part of the city, but in the end I didn't feel up to it, and came down again to have a late lunch in Hands' Tearoom, near the Abbey. I then went to Herschel's house in new King Street. It was a little hard to find, but was interesting as a contrast to the grander house at the Crescent. I then wandered into a few shops myself before rejoining my companion for tea in the Pump Room. This was the worst meal we had - totally overpriced, average cakes, and the Diet Coke was both flat and mixed wrongly on draught. The setting was pleasant, though, and I guess that's what one pays for. We ate dinner that night in the Walrus and the Carpenter, an unpretentious little place which seems to have lots of nooks and crannies and attracts at least partly a local crowd. And yes, they do serve shellfish (but not oysters).

Friday morning we went to the Jane Austen Centre in Gay Street, which was worth seeing iof you're a JA fan, otherwise probably not. We then walked along Pulteney Street again to find 4 Sydney Place, where Jane lived for some years, which we'd missed the day we went to the Holburne. After lunch at Hands again, we walked up to the Circus and Crescent again, because on the walking tour we'd spotted a Georgian garden open. Unfortunately it was apparently closed, but it was a nice last walk before collecting our luggage and waiting for our taxi to the station.
Nonconformist is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 05:11 PM
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Enjoyed your post. Thinking of using Bath as our "home base" base for a trip this fall.
Barbara5353 is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 11:49 PM
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Thanks for the report! Lots of useful info that would be helpful in deciding which of Bath's attractions and restaurants to visit. Sounds like you had a nice stay there.
noe847 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 02:21 AM
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Yes, it was great.
Nonconformist is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 03:41 PM
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Enjoyed your trip report. We did a four week home exchange in Bath in 2000, so your trip brought back many pleasant memories.

I am a Jane Austen lover, so the trip had extra meaning for me. I visited all the references to her books I could find. I took the JA tour from the Jane Austen Center. It was new then, and we were the only ones (two of us) on the tour. I know the books really well, and the tour guide made a few errors, hopefully that's been sorted out now, but it really did not matter much, since I had such a great time seeing all the wonderful places. I remember walking about with a smile on my face.

The mayor's tour was great, too, well-worth the time and I loved the museum (can't remember the name!) on one of the Crescents with Regency furniture, perhaps, it's the one you are talking about. The docents were terrific. Is that the place where they showed the kitchen dog that was used to rotate a wheel to keep the rotisserie turning? Really a cruel sight.

Unlike you, we had one of our best meals at the Pump Room, perhaps it was because of the ambience, who knows, but we had wonderful tea sandwiches and lovely little French pastries in that beautiful place, and then of course it held Jane Austen overtones for me. I hated to leave it. My husband enjoyed Sally Lunn, too.

We were luckier in the Costume museum than you, enjoyed it very much. In fact, there was nothing that I remember from those 4 weeks in Bath that I did not enjoy. Bath is a wonderful place. Thanks again for sharing your trip.
annetti is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 04:43 PM
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Thank you for the trip report! We're looking forward to visiting Bath in May.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Mar 31st, 2007, 08:32 PM
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Another pleasant thing we did in Bath was visit the American Museum. The day we visited in early July, there was an open-air festival on the lovely museum grounds with people dressed in early 18th century dress. There was also a battle scene recreated from the French Indian War. We sat on the lawn and watched it.( I could not get over how soft the grass was. I come from California and I don't water my lawn much and the grass is stiff and hard!) A nice day excursion if you have some time in Bath. It could not have taken us more than 15 minutes to get there, but it was seven years ago, so my memory may be faulty.
annetti is offline  
Apr 1st, 2007, 10:44 AM
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Yes, Annetti, 1 The Royal Crescent is the one with the dog. I was surprised to find this system lasted as late as it did (well into the 19th century, and even in the 20th century in parts of Wales).

I hope you enjoy your trip in May, Lee Ann.
Nonconformist is offline  
Apr 1st, 2007, 12:54 PM
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Nonconformist: I wonder if 1, Royal Crescent, might have been like Sir Walter Elliot's home. After seeing the museum, it became part of my mental picture of his lodgings in Bath. What do you think?
annetti is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 11:05 AM
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Probably not dissimilar, I imagine. I think Sir Walter was based at Lansdowne Crescent, which was not quite as plush as the Royal Crescent, but not far off. Mind you, it's a while since I've read Persuasion - it's on my reread-soon pile.
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Apr 3rd, 2007, 06:31 AM
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Somehow or other I thought it was Camden Place. After you have the pleasure of rereading Persuasion, let me know. Whatever. I really enjoyed seeing 1, Crescent Place. Again, thanks for the report.
annetti is offline  
Apr 15th, 2007, 10:34 AM
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My husband and I were fortunate to visit Bath last June for 2 days-not nearly long enough! A few things we did that have not been mentioned were a boat trip down the Avon river that was quite enjoyable and the hilarious "bizarre Bath" walking tour done at night by the most entertaining guide ever! We also took the bus tour which gave us a "high up" overview of the city and gave us a glimpse of places we wanted to explore more and it also rode up into the hills and neighborhoods of Bath.
We ate at the Walrus and Carpenter and had the best meal there. I know you will enjoy this small city.
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