Bath time: Jane Austen’s city is the wellness break you need this spring
There’s more to Bath than the baths (and Jane Austen). We check out the honey coloured Georgian town and find a swirl of soothing things to do running through Bath, as inviting as its award-winning gelato.
Mon 26 Mar 2018
Bath is the quintessential English spa town. The Romans knew they were onto a good thing 2,000 years ago and their baths are one of the preserved Roman sites in Europe.
But today’s wellness seekers will find a much wider variety of calming and laid back things to do in Bath - and there’s not a tour guide in sight.
Turn up, slow down and chill out.
Book into a veggie cooking class
Wellness isn’t just about lazing about in a robe but also about learning, using our hands and engaging our brains in something that doesn’t involve a screen. Book a half day vegetarian cooking class with Demuth’s, they’ve been running culinary courses here for years and sit opposite Bath Abbey.
There’s nothing they don’t know about vegan, veggie, raw and gluten free cooking. Knock up veggie Mexican tacos with heritage corn flours or master Indian street food, even the most amateur chef will create something delicious under their gentle guidance.
Make time for coffee and cake
Bath hasn’t escaped the artisan coffee revolution and there are a few independent cafes worth their beans. Skip the chains and tourist spots and head for Society Cafe in Kingsmead Square. Give an oat milk latte a whirl, with a house roast from Origin beans and weekly changing single origin guest beans.
Power up your plantlife
From the bold and striking to the delicate and trailing. Bath-based Botanica Studio offers a carefully curated range of houseplants. With a regular spot at Green Park Station Market in Bath on the last Sunday of each month, favourites include Blue Star Ferns, Calatheas, Swiss Cheese Plants, Pilea peperomioides, Stag Horn Ferns and String of Hearts.
Ok so Bath can’t quite escape its heritage, and nor should it. Spend the afternoon (and sunset if you can), at the Thermae Bath Spa. The Romans might have got here first, but they didn’t get the four storey view over the city bathers get now.
Thermae is different to the ancient Roman baths (which you can’t bathe in). It opened in 2006 as a modern way for wellness seekers to bath in the hot springs. Work your way up through the floors of this luxury spa complex to the heated rooftop pool for sunset.
Stop on your way up at the wellness suite, which combines mock-Georgian elegance with the latest developments in spas, so alongside the sauna and steam room, there’s an Infrared room, where Infrared waves ease muscles and joints.
Whichever floor you head for, you’ll be bathing in ancient spring water that’s attracted people here for its healing benefits since 863BC. The warm water contains 42 different minerals, including sulphate, calcium and chloride and Thermae gets its water direct from the same hot springs that the Romans used.
If you want to relax to the max, you can hire the smaller private, open air Cross Bath that sits across the street. Up to 10 people can book it for an exclusive spa session (and you can add in Prosecco), hidden away behind heavy Georgian stone.
Give in to gelato
Of course no real wellness break is complete without gelato, thick, creamy, inner child satisfying gelato. And in Bath, vegans and dairy-free diners don’t have to miss out.
Award-winning Swoon serves gelato that’s made with almond milk and comes in a range of spoon licking flavours, alongside its rich, local dairy milk versions. The sorbetti is vegan friendly too.
Everything is churned on site and seasonal flavours are introduced every month (hello, hot cross bun gelato during April).
Image Noya's Kitchen serves up authentic Vietnamese dishes with local, seasonal ingredients
Dinner’s taken care of
While Bath’s about as English as you can get, the city has become a lot more diverse in terms of restaurants and the addition of Noya’s Kitchen, that whips up authentic Vietnamese in a tiny deep-blue, wooden floored restaurant, is a fabulous one.
The cafe runs five course supper clubs at the weekends or pop in for the set lunch menu that depends on what’s available - if you can, try the summer rolls packed full of fistfuls of herbs and don’t miss the traditional Vietnamese coffee, slow dripped and mixed with condensed milk.
Where to stay
Skip the chain hotels and give Air B’B a break. Try Bloomfield House - a grand Georgian property on a hill overlooking the town (around a 20 minute walk to the baths).
If the insanely high ceilings, four posters and a gorgeous garden don’t sway you, then the owners’ commitment to all things green, certainly will - from breakfast ingredients that were reared a mile away across the fields to a free to use (for guests) electric car charging point. The owners are old hands at all things sustainable, there's kombucha brewing in the kitchen and there's nothing they don't know about Bath.