Jane Austen style
Romantics who read and enjoy the famous novels of Jane Austen sure know a thing or two about the city of Bath. For committed romantics like me it’s a must-visit – to feel the streets that the writer walked when she wrote of the things that many little girls fantasize about. Bath is also well-known among those who know the English food traditions, are afflicted with the “I can’t live without cheese!” ailment, love great bread and enjoy afternoon tea.
Even if two days in Bath isn’t much, it’s enough to get on a train in London in the morning and leave the capital behind for two beautiful and delicious days – even if Bath didn’t have all the places it has to satisfy all senses, the two-hour journey is worth it for the architecture alone. I haven’t been to all the cities in the United Kingdom or even many of them, but I do believe it when people say there’s no city on this island more beautiful than Bath. A city that thoroughly embodies all the qualities of the country – politeness, delicious food, royal arrogance, openness, beauty, magic and history. In Bath you don’t need a plan for walking the city – you’ll crisscross it this way and that in one day. What you do need a plan for are the places to have good food or even learn something. So let’s get to it.
Where to stay
Even if you think that dragging your suitcase uphill to get to The Queensberry Hotel is a right nightmare, it’ll be justified by your feelings when you see its Georgian building and the view over the roofs of the city and experience its hospitality.
Small, big, light, dark, fireplace or no fireplace – all the rooms are different, but the feeling is the same, like at the best English royal residences. Elegant, slightly extravagant, classic and modern. One night here might not be enough, it’s just too good here. And the breakfast – oh, that breakfast! English classics, made with the best produce from the local farms. And all the dishes taste equally good. But if you want to feel profoundly British, choose the classic – with beans, sausages, eggs and toast. Truly legendary!
Address: 4-7 Russell Street, Bath
Where to learn and be inspired
Richard Bertinet is not your typical inhabitant of the British Isles. Because he’s French. He learned baking bread since childhood, worked in famous bakeries both in France and in England, and then decided to move to Bath. A rather unusual choice, but as right as it gets – because Bath would be so much emptier without Richard and his culinary school, The Bertinet Kitchen Cookery School, where he has people from all over the world coming to take his courses. Why? Because he teaches every student to not be afraid of dough, to feel it, understand and enjoy it. Enjoy not just the dough but also the baking process and the flavours.
Apart from his famous school, which may well be the destination of your next trip, make sure you stop by one of the shops of his bakery in the centre of Bath to enjoy an almond croissant that’s as good as it can possibly get, take a bite of freshly baked bread and pastries, grab some croissants for takeaway and try a sourdough toast (absolute novelty in Great Britain). The school houses not just classes but also a lovely kitchenware shop that carries everything you need to bake bread and to inspire you in the kitchen. So don’t put it off, go to their website, book yourself a course and enjoy how one person can change your feeling about baking bread.
Address: 12 St. Andrew’s Terrace, Bath
Where to eat
Made by Ben
What happens when someone who has spent a lot of time in big cities, dancing and performing, leaves it all behind? Something great and delicious, found under the name of Made by Ben – with the best classic British flavours to enjoy. If you don’t know where to start, try the fabulous Scotch eggs (various versions of those), brownies, biscuits and salads.
If you’re feeling like something more international, order a tortilla with, for example, chorizo, peppers, tomatoes and pine nuts. But the beautiful truth is that anything you try will be delicious, as it’s made of produce that Ben himself picks up from farms and then cooks himself. A tiny place, where you can experience a different flavour and feeling of Britain that’s hard to forget.
Address: 100 Walcot Street, Bath
Another proof that an idea, passion and a tiny place is enough for everyone to remember you and want to return again and again. This small place, where you totally have to check out the toilet (try and you’ll see why), has everything that anyone, absolutely anyone would want to eat.
Be it slow-cooked lamb, grilled peppers, tabouleh salad, cakes and croissants. Or good coffee, a glass of wine and homemade lemonade. It’s all here. Along with the locals who come to eat here every day, because they know it’ll always be excellent.
Address: 61 Walcot Street, Bath
If you’re looking for something like a pub (how would you go without a pub visit in the British Isles?), however, you want not just beer and a loud crowd but also a delicious meal and good wine (which is not easy to find at a regular pub), let nothing keep you from The Chequers gastropub. No worries, here you won’t find roaring football fans, and beer won’t be the only thing you can smell. Their dishes, made of locally sourced seasonal ingredients, will even make you ponder whether this place should be called a pub, because it’s more like a flavour journey worthy of a great restaurant, but no – this is indeed a pub, where the portions are classier than at quite a few classy restaurants.
Local produce – nothing is more important here than that. In season it’ll be broccoli with roasted almonds and sauce that you can get addicted to. It’ll be homemade gnocchi with season’s mushrooms and pesto, but made in an unexpected way. It’ll be lamb, cooked to perfection and served with artichokes and broad beans. Freshly baked bread, butter that you’ll find hard to not finish in its entirety, and an excellent choice of beer and wine. A place that manifests the best of the gastropub movement.
Address: 50 Rivers Street, Bath
Where to shop
The Fine Cheese Co Company is not just a cheese shop, it’s a true cheese paradise for those who love good cheese – the cheeses available here are among the best in the United Kingdom, and they’ll give you a whole new perspective of the world of British cheeses. And, what’s more, next door is their cafe with divine cakes, excellent coffee, mouth-watering salads and ice creams. A must-visit spot in Bath.
Address: 29-31 Walcot Street, Bath
So, whatever you’re doing in Bath, maybe your next destination should be a freshly baked bread that you made yourself at The Bertinet School, with a slice of cheese from the excellent cheese shop, with a pub visit in the evening and a meal at Sam’s Kitchen or Made by Ben before leaving for home.
Photo: Armands Meirans
In cooperation with www.airbaltic.com