Bath is undeniably the best place to have a weekend retreat in the UK. The small city has become a sanctuary for city dwellers due to the city's gorgeous Georgian architecture, its tranquil atmosphere and its thriving independent business culture. I always say that people need a break from the hustle and grind of urban living - a short moment to reflect, read, walk, talk and even be alone. Places like Bath possess such desirable qualities where one can indulge in slow living and return to one's daily routine with a refreshed mindset. Furthermore, in an age where the world is becoming smaller and smaller, people seem to travel to far-flung locations while neglecting cultural destinations nearby. My time at Bath made me realise that one's most memorable experiences don't have to occur in distant places - it may just be a 2-hour train ride away.
ROYAL CRESCENT & THE CIRCUS
These architectural sights are at the core of the Bath's historical and aesthetic identity and have become synonymous with Bath itself. Stroll along the neighbouring paths and absorb the graceful ageing and precise ordering of the honey-toned facades - a testament to the beauty of Georgian architecture.
Enjoy a light lunch at this centrally located casual restaurant and cafe. It's the perfect spot to people-watch or flip through your favourite magazine. The ambience is very open and relaxing - thanks to the natural light that seeps through the floor-to-ceiling windows. After your meal, have a look through the neighbouring concept store for an eclectic offering of furniture and homewares.
COLONNA & SMALL'S
Head over to this independent coffee shop for some of the best specialist coffee in the UK (this place has twice been a world finalist for the UK Barista Championship). One gets to select their desired variety of coffee bean along with a variety of eye-catching baked goods. I had the best carrot cake of my life here; it was so good that I came back for more the following day.
One can find some of the best (and affordable) Scandinavian design pieces in this distinct retail space, located on Bath's iconic Milsom street. One can also expect very attentive service and a glass of champagne - if you're good.
HUNTER & SONS
Get a round of drinks at this nearby but secluded spot in Milsom Place, which "celebrates the culinary culture of both coffee and craft beer". The establishment has an admirable understated sophistication and manages to imitate the atmosphere of a rooftop bar without actually being one.
GREAT PULTENEY STREET
This street is another exemplar of Bath's architectural beauty. Tradition and serenity are the ideals that capture this street's charm. The best time to visit is at dawn or dusk when the golden light graces the buildings with its soft presence.
At the foot of the above street is one of the most peaceful places I have ever visited. As one walks through the small park, all evidence of urban civilisation fades. The only thing to be heard is the melodic chirping of birds and the gentle swaying of trees. It's the perfect place to reflect or a read an immersive book. Afterward, reintroduce yourself to the city with a walk along Henrietta Road - a quaint street lined with stately Georgian villas.
HUDSON STEAK ON WALCOT STREET
Settle into a hearty steak after a long trek from the park. It's not the best steak you'll ever have but the impeccable service makes the experience worthwhile. Walcot Street is also known to be a hotspot for the city's most renowned independent retailers so I would recommend a quick browse before dinner.
As the third specialty coffee shop to be mentioned, it is clear that this small city has anything but a shortage of good coffee! Located on the lively Kingsmead Square, one can people watch or admire the ever-changing art on the walls while having some quality coffee.
TOPPING & COMPANY BOOKSELLERS
There's often this romanticised fantasy of getting lost in a bookshop. A visit to this bookstore measures up closely to such ideals. There is a wide range of fiction and non-fiction on offer with a special section at the back dedicated to art and design. Even better, visitors are offered tea while they contemplate their options (or simply indulge in their child-like fantasies).
Spend the rest of the day at one of Bath's best luxury hotels. The restaurant - the only Michelin starred restaurant in Bath - offers a reasonably priced £30 3-course lunch menu. The dishes weren't particularly memorable but were well executed and were of great value. After a satisfying lunch, head to the hotel's Garden Spa (where soothing facial treatments and rejuvenating body massages start from £95). Thereafter, one can relax in the spa's meditation room while enjoying views of the lush gardens and notes of mellow jazz playing in the background - a perfect end to the weekend break.