With an abundance of delicious dining options and places offering total relaxation, Bath is the perfect weekend trip when visiting London, writes Kate Ford.
As it's a town with a rich history that stretches from baths to buns, I knew Bath and I would get along. We have come for a weekend and for an escape from London. A mere hour and a half after our train pulls away from the platform at Paddington Station, we step out into Bath's town centre in search of breakfast. For us it's an obvious choice. We are seeking buns. More specifically, we are seeking a Sally Lunn Bunn.
Research into Bath led me to the conclusion that one can't leave without visiting legendary establishment Sally Lunn's. Not onlyis this cafe one of the oldest houses in Bath, dating back to 1482, but the menu serves up the biggest array of buns you will ever see. It is a heaven for the dough lover but a nightmare for the keto diet follower.
We order the buns with Welsh rarebit and smoked salmon toppings. They are called buns but this isn't your everyday bap or cheesetopped number. These buns are huge, almost as big as my face, served in halves. They are light brioche-type pillows, described on the menu as being "part bun, part bread, part cake".
We walk off our carbo-loading by strolling through the town centre. Bath is a very walkable city and on the way to our hotel we pass countless cafes, restaurants and bars, craft stores and boutiques, along with classic department store titans Marks and Spencer and Debenhams.
Barely 10 minutes later we arrive at Roseate Villa, a beautiful boutique hotel, made from two converted Victorian houses. There are 21 rooms here and ours is lovely with elegant furnishings, including white window shutters and the allimportant staple of any good hotel —a super plush bed. We settle into our snug sanctuary for a while before embarking on our next important activity: afternoon tea.
Roseate Villa puts on a fabulous spread for guests and we need only shuffle a few doors down the hallway to take our seats in the dining room. The three-tier cake stand is the centrepiece of a classic English afternoon tea with some delicious twists. The sandwiches are in neat lines and filled with cucumber, lemon and creme fraiche, or smoked cheddar with pear and ginger chutney.
We dig into the sweet treats of raspberry macarons, salted caramel popcorn profiteroles, raspberry tarts with patisserie cream. All amazing and washed down withapot of English Breakfast.
By this point you may be thinking of us as gluttons. You may be right. So you shouldn't be surprised that our next stop involves dinner.
Prime position in the town centre is Koffman and Mr White's. This English and French brasserie is named after the famous chefs at its helm, Pierre Koffman and Marco Pierre White.
Koffman boasts three Michelin stars for his former London restaurant, La Tante Claire. White, meanwhile, is often described as the original celebrity chef. He was the youngest chef to have been awarded three Michelin stars, has trained the likes of Mario Batali and Gordon Ramsay and hosted TV show Hell's Kitchen.
Suffice to say, we walk through the door with high hopes. The restaurant has been open for just over a week when we ravenous souls sit down, forks ready to spear.
The French and English cuisines join together inavery tempting menu, delivering the best of both worlds. From a classicFrench onion soup to an English farmhousesalad, the dishes on offer are hearty and warming. We opt for the braised lamb a la Provencale and the braised ox cheek. Both tender, both delicious.
No great dinner is complete without a cheese board so we indulge in a spectacular version here, with varieties made by none other than Alex James, Blur musician turned cheesemaker.
When in Bath, do as the Romans did and marinate in a spa. We do this at Thermae Bath Spa, a natural thermal spa and quite probably the best way to spend a Sunday morning. Our booking (tip: be sure to book in advance to avoid long queues) includesaleisurely laze in the pools, including the open-air rooftop pool.
Before we reach prune stage, we make our way to the treatment rooms for some extra pampering in the form of a massage and a facial. Bliss.
In AD 43 the Romans invaded Britain and had developed Bath's religious spa complex by AD 75. They started the development of Aquae Sulis, a sanctuary of rest and relaxation.
Feelings of leisure and comfort continue to pervade Bath all these centuries later. You'll find everything you need here to feed both the body and the soul.
Travel by train to Bath from London PaddingtonStation, with journeys taking around 90 minutes.