One of England’s prettiest cities, Bath positively glows with the serene beauty that has made it unrelentingly popular with day-trippers, staycationers and international travellers for generations. Today, it’s a little over a 1 hour 20 minute train journey from London Paddington – and a rather nice one at that, which sails across the Wiltshire countryside and into the curvaceous county of Somerset. Everything that once made it a favourite destination is still here: the Roman Baths, the UNESCO world heritage centre Georgian buildings, the tranquil parks, glorious Abbey, fabled waters and ghost of Jane Austen stoically trudging up and down Milson Street. But for a city so proud of its history, Bath has also kept up with the times. Its superb array of restaurants include contemporary French cuisine, perfectly al dente pasta and veggie-friendly Nepalese. There’s also an abundance of properly good pubs, including The Salamander and The Raven, serving excellent local ales and lovely comfort food.
All of which makes turning a day trip into a weekend break a bit of a no-brainer. But first, let us help you find the best hotel for your stay.
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Bath’s best hotels
Gainsborough Bath Spa boasts the only natural thermal spa inside a hotel in the UK. And it’s bang in the heart of the town! Behind a pair of Georgian and Victorian facades are 90 airy, bright, elegant rooms. They’re exactly what you’d imagine from a hotel that belongs to Leading Hotels of the World – but it’s the spa village that gets us excited here. Set under a glass atrium are two natural thermal pools, saunas, a steamroom and an ice alcove, along with nearly a dozen treatment rooms, and – to properly work up that sweat – a gym.
Located on one of Bath’s most iconic streets, this delightful boutique hotel is easy to spot thanks to the seasonal botanical installations usually adorning its front porch. The bold and beautiful approach to decoration doesn’t stop there, however. Inside, you’ll find cosy bedrooms decorated in a style that complements the historic interiors yet still leaves plenty of space for modern quirks. Enjoy an expansive breakfast in the cave-like downstairs restaurant and book a relaxing massage in the hotel’s own spa. They also serve Afternoon Tea and Sunday Lunch, but don’t forget to capitalise on being in such a fantastic central location with as many visits as possible to the local restaurants, cafes and bars. Fancy a quick stroll? Henrietta Park is literally just around the corner.
It’s six miles away from Bath, but we’ve listed it here because it is definitely worth the journey in and out of town. Lucknam Park is a sumptuous eighteenth-century Palladian mansion set in over 500 acres of parkland, with 42 individually designed bedrooms and suites featuring highly traditional décor – think overstuffed cushions, lots of damask and tastefully muted florals. Foodies flock here for the Michelin-starred restaurant Hywel Jones, and if you’re feeling inspired by the cuisine you can even do lessons at the hotel’s cookery school. Alternately, just make the most of the light-filled spa and outdoor pool. We’re not judging.
The Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa is smack bang in the middle of the most famous curved street in Bath, and yet somehow it still maintains the feeling of being a little bit of a hidden treasure. Come here for classic Georgian decadence and décor that leans heavily on a decidedly British approach to heritage and style. The two biggest perks of this hotel are the gloriously tranquil spa (book in for a signature treatment and come out gleaming and relaxed) and the concealed gardens for taking Afternoon Tea in. You’ll feel like you’re in your own secret corner of Bath when, in fact, you’re about three minutes walk from the very centre.
The fun, and highly affordable four-star Sofitel is perfect for those who opt for a contemporary feel. It has modern, newly refurbed rooms with Egyptian cotton sheets, free wi-fi and tea and coffee-making facilities. Pay for a wee upgrade, and you’ll get four-poster beds, minibars and espresso machines. The bathrooms come with fluffy bathrobes and luxury toiletries, and public areas, including a brasserie and bar, take in a mish-mash of styles, from dainty Georgian to more out-there geometric
This place isn’t so much a hotel as a pub-turned-B&B – but we’ve listed it as, well, it’s just lovely. Its six individually designed rooms reside in a Georgian terraced house, which is about ten minutes’ walk from the town centre. If it looks like a home, it certainly feels like one too – from the fresh thermos of milk for your tea or coffee, to the hearty breakfasts around a communal table. Rooms feature lots of charming personal touches too, like homemade biscuits and spacious bathrooms with White Company toiletries.