Popular first with the Romans, then later with the Georgians, Bath is still drawing in the crowds and attracts millions of visitors each year. Bath has a unique charm. Steeped in history and rich in elegant, Georgian architecture, Bath has a classy, beautiful, and relaxed appeal. Famous for its splendid Roman thermal baths, Jane Austen, and more tea shops than you could shake a stick at, there is plenty more here besides.
It’s not surprising then that Bath is one of the top tourist destinations in Britain and extremely popular for a Bath hen weekend. So, if you’re considering Bath for a hen weekend, here are a few suggestions of things to do.
When the Romans settled in Bath 2,000 years ago, they called the town Aquae Sulis, meaning ‘the waters of Sulis’. Sulis was the local goddess of the hot springs. Bath is said to have the hottest natural spring waters in the country: waters that have drawn the rich and famous here to bathe for centuries.
In recent years, the Roman hot baths which existed here have been restored to their former glory, intertwining the ancient architecture with stunning contemporary design. Visitors can stroll along 2000-year-old pool-side pavements, previously trod by Roman soles, to get to the fabulous rooftop pool. Once there, you can swim and relax in the warm waters, whilst admiring the view, through the steam, across the rooftops of the city.
After a dip, a lady’s thoughts might turn to tea. Bath may very well be the ultimate destination for those with a fondness for tea and cake, as there are plenty of establishments to choose from. There is even an ode by John Betjeman called ‘In a Bath Teashop’.
Next door to the Roman Baths lies the deliciously posh restaurant The Pump Rooms, where you can be entertained by a trio of classical musicians, whilst sipping Earl grey, munching sandwiches, or even quaffing a glass of champagne. In Jane Austin Centre’s Regency Tea Rooms, you can experience a glimpse of Regency life, with their refined decor and peaceful atmosphere. Whilst there, you can experience ‘Tea With Mr. Darcy’, ‘Bingley’s Brownies’ or ‘Cousin Collins Crumpets’.
And if you fancy a dollop of history with your high tea, you could visit the famous Sally Lunns. This cafe is set in one of the oldest buildings in Bath and is home to the original ‘Bath bun’, a unique and renowned brioche-style delicacy.
Once replete with tea and cake, adventurous hens could take to the saddle, punt, rowboat, or narrowboat and explore the waters and rolling English countryside around Bath. The Canal Visitor Centre, in Brassknocker basin, hires out Canadian canoes for paddling. The Bath Boating Station, Bath and Dundas Canal Company, and Bath Bike Hire will also variously hire bikes and boats of all descriptions for the day.
There is a cycle path linking Bath and Bristol that will keep your clutch of hens safely off the road and is relatively flat. This is beautifully scenic at the Bath end and along most of its length. There are also many miles of verdant canals, aqueducts, lock gates, and pumping stations to explore, with more tea shops and hostelries along the way.
Sticking with the adventure side for a moment, one of the best Bath activities you could opt for is West Country Games. This hilarious event especially popular with stag and hen parties takes place every Saturday just outside of the city. You will compete in 9 different themed games, such as The Cider Run, West Country Wipeout, Mangold Dangling, and Wurzel Knockout as you whack and wobble your way around these hilarious activities. Alternatively, you could also visit their sister activity, Welsh Games, which is also ideal for a Cardiff hen weekend.
If you fancy a spot of culture on your hen weekend, there is plenty on offer in Bath. The Jane Austin center celebrates Bath’s most famous residents. For a ‘Pride and Prejudice’ experience, you can dress up in period bonnets, shawls, parasols, and fans and take some unforgettable photos. There’s also a Jane Austen festival in Bath.
For the energetic, you can book a Jane Austin walking tour of Bath…and for more languid hens, there are horse-drawn carriage trips, taking in the sights of Bath, like Victoria Park, the Royal Crescent, and the Georgian elegance of The Circus.
For those wanting to round off the weekend with an evening of celebration, fun, and frolics, you may want to try The Gin Bar. This decadent bar has a simply huge selection of gin, not only from the local area but from the whole world. Their cocktails are sublime and the cozy bar makes for an evening of pure indulgence with close friends.
All in all, Bath is a place to please the sensibilities: charming, venerable, and rightfully proud. So, to all hens, in the words of Jane Austen, “let me recommend you to Bath” for what is sure to be a most agreeable and memorable party.
By Kirsty Henderson