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Holiday Ideas

5 Very Merry Reasons To Visit Bath This Festive Season

Golden glitter gift box and star decorations
Faded golden globe lights in the background with a simple nativity scene of Mary, Joseph and baby in fore ground.

Photo Credit: Gareth Harper on Unsplash

Bath is completely magical at Christmas – the winding streets and beautiful old buildings are transformed with twinkly fairy lights, there are cosy, welcoming cafes and pubs on every corner, and the fabulous independent boutiques make it the perfect Christmas shopping destination. The Bath Christmas Market is, of course, legendary, but what else is not to be missed during the festive season? We asked local blogger Sal Godfrey to round up her favourite things to do in Bath at Christmas…

1. Apres-Ski Bar, The Abbey Hotel 

A wooden chalet, with tables and chairs in front and lit up with pretty lights

Photo Credit: The Abbey Hotel

Every Christmas, this pop-up bar appears as if by magic outside the Abbey Hotel, and is the perfect place to warm up and chill out after a serious shopping spree. Inside the rustic log cabin you’ll find a snug alpine ski lodge, beautifully decorated and lit by lanterns and candles, with lots of comfy corners to take a load off your feet, and a bar serving mulled wine and winter comfort food. Entry is free but it can get quite busy as the evening goes on, so bear that in mind when you plan your visit.

2. Kingsmead Square Festive Street Food Market 

Ribs being barbecued

Photo Credit: Kingsmead Square Festive Food Market

Freshly made chilli dog

Photo Credit: Kingsmead Square Festive Food Market

This is a brand new event for 2017, but it looks like it’s going to be amazing! A whole host of local food stalls will be in attendance, providing everything from alpine-style mac and cheese to Valencian paella, as well as the square’s fabulous resident foodies (I particularly recommend a visit to Swoon Gelato for their famous Italian hot chocolate), and there’ll also be live music and plenty of covered seating. The market will be running alongside the Bath Christmas Market, so why not pop along to Kingsmead Square for lunch – it’s the perfect excuse to explore a little more of the city.

3. The Gourmet Picture Company, Victoria Park 

Big red sofa style movie seating with tray table

Photo Credit: VisitBath

Another new event for 2017, the Gourmet Picture Company will be creating an incredible pop-up cinema in Victoria Park, from the 14th of December to the 7th of January, where you can enjoy classic movies with a fabulous three-course meal (created by either Tom Kerridge or Rick Stein) for just £45 per person. Big squashy red sofas, amazing comfort food dishes, an interval with ice creams, and some of the very best Christmas films make this the ultimate night out with friends. Booking online is essential.

4. Shoppers’ Carols, Bath Abbey 

Night view of Bath Abbey

Photo Credit: Bath Abbey

For anyone who gets a bit stressed out and fed up after too much Christmas shopping, Bath Abbey have the perfect solution – informal, 20 minute services with traditional Christmas carols, guaranteed to make you feel all warm and festive again (as well as providing a welcome opportunity for a sit down, of course). The services take place regularly during the day on weekends, whilst the Christmas Market is running, and there’s no charge or booking required – just pop in and soak up the glorious atmosphere of the ancient Abbey at Christmas.

5. Christmas Mini Golf, Victoria Park
Bath’s miniature golf course is transformed at Christmas into a winter wonderland, with festive lighting and music – and that’s not all. Head down there in the evening once darkness has fallen and play a glow-in-the-dark round! Kids of all ages will love playing this pretty little mini golf course with light-up balls and a whole new set of glow-in-the-dark golf rules… booking is available for parties of 10 or more, or just turn up on the day.

To be honest, Bath is blessed at Christmas – the events above are but a fraction of the festive fun available. Are you visiting Bath for Christmas this year? Send us a comment and tell us what you’re planning to do while you’re there!

Treat Yourself to the Ultimate Girls’ Weekend in Bath!

For hundreds of years, Bath has been the place to come to treat yourself. The Romans knew just how to do it, with everything from fine food to the ultimate spa experience, and Bath carries on the best of both traditions today – so it’s quite simply the perfect location for a girls’ weekend away. Whether you’re on a hen party, catching up with old friends or just taking a little mother-daughter time, Bath has something for you to enjoy. We asked local blogger Sal Godfrey for her top three recommendations…

For Dining: Chez Dominique

This elegant, understated French restaurant on Argyle St will whisk you away to Paris for a few hours. The menu changes regularly but is always full of irresistible dishes – I’m still daydreaming about their pork steaks with pickled walnuts and Roquefort butter weeks later. You absolutely must save room for the dessert menu too. If you’re in a bigger group, then you can book their private dining room (with beautiful views of the weir) and have your own space, or simply reserve a table in the main restaurant – booking is definitely recommended. They have a fantastic set menu too, with two dishes for just £14 before 7pm, so have an early dinner and leave yourself plenty of time afterwards for my next recommendation…

Chez Dominique Chocolate Treats

Processed with Snapped. Photo Credit: Sal Godfrey

For Drinking: Sub 13

This chic bar makes some of Bath’s best cocktails, including a whole menu based around the dream team that is gin and tonic. You wouldn’t know it from the discreet frontage on George St, but Sub 13’s stylish lounges are spread over several floors and highlights include a snug, candlelit champagne bar in the vaults and a beautiful courtyard garden at the back. You can book your own vault in the late night club downstairs, where drinking and dancing goes on until 3am at the weekends, or even arrange your own mixology class. The best bit? Sub 13 offers a huge range of their award-winning cocktails at 2 for 1 until 10pm, every single day.

Sub 13 Enticing Cocktail Treats

Photo Credit: Sal Godfrey

For Pampering: Radiance Wellbeing Day Spa

Radiance Spa Pamper Treats

Photo Credit: Sal Godfrey

For a much more tranquil, original alternative to the Thermae Spa, treat yourself to a little pampering at Radiance Wellbeing. Their philosophy is all about making guests feel good, so there are no brutal beauty treatments here – instead, perhaps enjoy a champagne manicure with hand and arm massage, a nourishing wrap, a whole range of facials or a fabulous choice of massages. Tucked into an old Georgian townhouse right in the centre of the city, every room at Radiance Wellbeing is different, from the grand drawing room (big enough for couples’ treatments) decorated by Bristol artist Alex Lucas, to the cosy snug where you can lounge on giant beanbags for your Indian head massage.

And there’s more… if shopping is your thing, then Bath is the place to pick up something no one else will have. Visit Grace & Ted for gorgeous designer resale and find something fabulous at a fraction of the original price. Seek out pocket-sized jewellery boutique Bill Skinner’s for exquisite, quirky gems, and find stunning, original shoes and handbags at Chanii B. And after all that retail therapy, you’ll need to refuel, so visit Didi Cakes for Bath’s most beautiful cupcakes or treat yourself to a waffle cone at Swoon Gelato.

Whatever brings you to Bath, we’d be delighted to welcome you to one of our properties, from gorgeous apartments for two on one of the city’s grandest addresses, Great Pulteney Street, to beautiful houses like Monmouth House and The Governor’s, both of which sleep 10 people. With so much to pack in to your visit, it’s wonderful to have your own space to relax as well. For extra special occasions, get in touch to find out how our carefully chosen partners can add those perfect little details, from fresh flower arrangements to a personal chef.

Beyond Scones – The Best Afternoon Teas in Bath

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Ah yes, the afternoon tea. As soon as you mention England to anyone who has been, it’s often memories of scrumptious scones and piping hot tea that come up. But a great afternoon tea is so much more than that. It’s about the setting, and about the ambience. A really memorable afternoon tea also needs more than just scones to stand out. After all, the afternoon tea ceremony has a long and hallowed history to live up to.

Afternoon tea as a tradition had been around since the mid-1800s. It is often credited to the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russell, who elevated it to a substantial afternoon meal in upper class circles. The contents of the menu at an afternoon tea has changed over time, but the decadence of the tradition remains. Below we list some of our favourite places in Bath to have afternoon tea like an English nobleman or woman.

Hiplets_Afternoon_Tea

 

The Pump Room

The Pump Room is a great place to stop for tea in Bath, as it’s part of the Roman Baths, one of Bath’s most popular attractions. After you learn about the fascinating history of the Romans in Bath, you can sit down for a well deserved break with a nice cuppa. The room itself is stunning; columns along the walls and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, whilst a pianist plays for your enjoyment.

Their afternoon tea menu is nothing short of divine, with plenty of savoury as well as sweet options. How does a poached salmon shot with crisp bread or roast beef & watercress sandwich sound? Or how about a chocolate & coffee opera cake or a raspberry choux pastry? You may want to skip dinner after this!

Don’t forget to “take the waters” by trying a taste of the mineral-rich spa water which you can drink from the fountain. It’s an acquired taste, but it’s meant to be good for you.

 

The Royal Crescent Hotel

Tea at the Royal Crescent Hotel is a truly grand affair, an occasion fit for any lord or lady. But you may have trouble choosing what to have, as there are five different afternoon tea menus to choose from. There’s even a special afternoon tea for the little ones!

The menus are adventurous and delicious, with surprises such as brie, truffle & ham tart, lamb kofta with an Asian glaze, and gin & kaffir lime panna cotta. You’ll also need to choose between the wide selection of carefully selected teas, and maybe add a cheeky glass of champagne to the spread? As if the food wasn’t enough, you can choose to have your afternoon tea in the splendid garden belonging to the hotel. The setting is sure to elevate your experience to another level.

 

Indulgence Café

Indulgence Café, in Bathwick Street, is a very popular spot with locals, and it’s easy to see why. Started by passionate patisserie chef Katherine Small, this place serves up some of the freshest and tastiest baked goods in the city.

Luckily, they have also decided to be part of the afternoon tea scene in Bath. This means you can come here to enjoy your finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and get a taste one of the cakes from their daily selection, all washed down with with a pot of tea or a glass of prosecco.

 

Bailbrook House

For a tea in sumptuous, traditional surroundings, look no further than Bailbrook House. Situated just outside of Bath in the beautiful countryside that is spread all over Somerset, this grad II listed building will make you feel like you have been transported to a different time and place.

There are two different rooms for you to choose from when having your afternoon tea. Both are decorated with grand window drawings and luxurious soft furnishings. The loose leaf tea is brewed to your liking and, apart from the usual spread of sandwiches and cakes, you can also enjoy the traditional Bath Bun with your tea.

 

Comins Tea House

For something completely different, you should try an afternoon tea at Comins Tea House in Monmouth Street. Here, the focus is truly on the tea, as they only source the best tea from far flung corners of the world. There’s a feeling of taking part in an ancient tradition as you sip these unique beverages.

However, this doesn’t mean that the edible accompaniments are to be sniffed at. You will start with something savoury, in their delicious open sandwiches on farmhouse bread. The toppings are always fresh and flavourful. This will be followed by a selection of Comins cakes and blueberry scones with clotted cream and jam. All washed down with top quality tea of course! The exciting thing about afternoon tea here is that the flavours will be unlike anything else you’ve experienced at a traditional afternoon tea.

 

As you can see, there are plenty of options if you want to have afternoon tea in Bath. And we’ve only scratched the surface! To book your next stay in Bath, please go to our listings page for Bath.

Family-Friendly Restaurants in Bath – Where to Take the Kids This Half-term

Pizza Restaurant in Bath, UK

Bath has a reputation as a seriously romantic weekend away, and of course it’s a must-visit for history fans, with everything from ancient Roman ruins to Jane Austen’s former haunts. But it’s also a brilliant place for families to visit – the city is compact enough that you can walk everywhere without little legs getting too tired, there’s plenty of green space, and there’s lots of great family-friendly food and fun too. We asked local blogger Sal Godfrey for her three top picks on dining out in Bath with kids in tow…

The Bathampton Mill

Kid-friendly Restaurant in Bath, UK
Photo Credit: Bathampton Mill
Just on the outskirts of Bath, the Bathampton Mill is a beautiful old pub with a big garden, overlooking the River Avon. As well as a great children’s menu, offering two courses for £7.95 Monday-Saturday (and a roast on Sundays for just £6.95), there are plenty of options for the grown-ups too, from a great gastropub menu with all sorts of delicious international influences. On a sunny day, you can sit on their terrace and let the kids wear themselves out in the garden, or you can get everyone together in the cosy, relaxed bar space. To make this a proper day out, travel to the Bathampton Mill by boat – the Pulteney Princess leaves from the weir, right in the centre of Bath, and takes roughly half an hour to get to the pub, with beautiful views and a bit of commentary along the way. Under-5s travel for free and under-16s cost just £3 each way – visit the Pulteney Princess website for departure times and more information.

The Real Italian Pizza Co

Pizza Restaurant in Bath, UK
Photo Credit: Sal Godfrey
Right in the centre of the city, The Real Italian Pizza Co is always my first recommendation for families looking to go out for dinner. The atmosphere is great, the food is fabulous and it’s really good value too, with their freshly-cooked pizzas starting from less than £10. There isn’t an official children’s menu – instead, they simply offer smaller pizzas and smaller portions of their pasta for half the price – so there’s plenty of choice. In the summer, you can sit outside in their courtyard, or even get your pizza to take away and have a picnic – just along the road is a beautiful open square by Bath’s historic abbey, which often plays host to buskers and performers on warm evenings. For the authentic Italian experience, return to their sister company next door, The Real Italian Ice Cream Co, for dessert – this fabulous gelateria is full of great flavours and stays open late on summer nights, so you could almost be in Florence…

The Egg

the-egg-bath-hiplets
Photo Credit: Sal Godfrey

Attached to the Egg Theatre, which itself is the little sister to Bath’s Theatre Royal, this café is always recommended by mums as a great family-friendly find. Even if you’re not attending a production (and you should definitely check out what’s on, as the Egg is host to lots of brilliant shows and workshops for kids of all ages) you can still enjoy a tasty, inexpensive lunch here, with lots of options for children, and make use of their lovely play space. As a regular haunt of parents and kids, the Egg Café and its staff are incredibly welcoming to families, so you can be assured of a relaxing pit stop without having to worry about disturbing anyone.

And there’s more… it’s not all about the food and drink. If you’re coming to Bath with kids, make sure you also check out My Small World, a fantastic toy shop full of things you’d never find anywhere else, Spotty Herbert’s, a pocket-sized shop full of lovely pocket-money-sized treats, and Up to Seven, a beautiful clothing boutique that also has lots of snuggly knitted toys. If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air, you also must find your way to the incredible Victoria Park Playground, which has everything from swings and slides to zip wires, giant climbing frames, diggers and a skate park.

So there you have it! Bath has plenty to offer for people of all ages, and we can’t wait to have you visit us. Whether it’s a little break or a big family get-together, we’ve got you covered, with a range of beautiful accommodation sleeping up to 10 people. All our properties are centrally located, so you can walk everywhere, and having your own space means that you can relax, let the kids spread out with their own toys and games, and follow your own timetable. For more information, including all the facilities we offer to make families welcome, just get in touch.

Escape Winter, Come to Cape Town – Our Top 5 Activities

Many places in the Northern Hemisphere have seen a big drop in temperatures in the last little while, a sure sign that winter is here to stay for the foreseeable future. But, way down South in the Southern Hemisphere, summer is just getting started. Because of this, destinations like Cape Town, South Africa are increasing in popularity with travellers looking for a bit of sunshine to get them through the rest of winter.

At Hiplets, we believe Cape Town is one of the foremost tourist destinations in the world, and we are continuously expanding our portfolio of unique self-catering properties here. Luckily, we are spoilt for choice! As you will be too when it comes to activities in the Mother City when you visit. Below are some of our top suggestions for what to busy yourself with during your stay in Cape Town.

Take a drive along Chapman’s Peak Drive

chapmanspeakdrive_view

It’s really worth your while to rent a car or hire a driver to take you along this scenic road. Chapman’s Peak Drive hugs the coastline from Noordhoek to Hout Bay in Cape Town. There are plenty of spots along the road where you can stop to take photos of the frankly mind-blowing view, so schedule in enough time to take it all in.

Both Hout Bay and Noordhoek are great suburbs with plenty to see and fantastic places to have some food. If you prefer hiking to driving, you could also hike to the top of  Chapman’s Peak itself. Both the trek and the view will take your breath away. This outing is particularly easy to accomplish if you’re staying at Chapman’s View in Noordhoek.

Visit The Vibrant Bo Kaap Area

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If it’s history and culture you’re after, there is plenty of that to choose from in Cape Town. But we still think that the best and most unique place to experience the cultural diversity of modern day South Africa is in the colourful Bo Kaap area of Cape Town.

Nestled below Signal Hill in the centre of the city, this neighbourhood has a rich history as the Malay Quarter of Cape Town, a place largely populated by Muslim descendants of slaves from India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. It’s not just the brightly coloured houses that make this place so special; it’s the one-of-a-kind neighbourhood feel and friendly residents that really draws you in. The food culture here is especially tantalising. We recommend taking a tour or even a cooking class that will educate you on local delicacies such as koeksisters, tomato bredie and bobotie. 

Stay at Waterkant House and you are only a short walk away from your Bo Kaap adventure.

Waddle with Penguins in Simon’s Town

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When you first see a waddle of penguins (yes, this is what you call a group of these adorable creatures) on a white sand beach surrounded by turquoise water, you may feel like you’ve landed in some alternate universe. But on Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town, just outside of Cape Town, this is exactly how penguins like to roll.

Take a walk along the leafy boardwalk to spot the penguins and their homes along the way, and then spend time with them on their favourite beach. While you sun tan and enjoy the calm waters of this particularly secluded beach, you’ll experience the unusual sight of penguins strolling past your beach towel and swimming alongside you in the sea. Their favourite hang out is on the giant boulders that dot the beach. We think this is sure to be one of your favourite memories of Cape Town!

Feel on Top of the World on Table Mountain

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It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you cannot say Cape Town without also saying Table Mountain. And let’s face it, while you’re in Cape Town, there’s no running from this massive, beautiful mountain that rests in the middle of the city. It’s iconic shape has helped make the city as photogenic as it is.

But you’re really only getting a fraction of the story if you only admire the mountain from afar. To really understand its true beauty, you have to get up there, to the top, and take in the unique fynbos flora and the dazzling views of the city below. There are two ways to get to the top of Table Mountain; you can hike, or you can take the Table Mountain Cable Car. The cable car is a fantastic experience, as you float above the city and up the face of the mountain. And it only takes 5 minutes to get to the top. The hike takes quite a bit longer, depending on your fitness, but it is an unparalleled opportunity to get up close and personal with the mountain and the plants and animals that call it home. Just make sure you are fit and well prepared!

Another popular option is to combine the two, for example hike up and take the cable car down, or the other way around. Either way, do not miss out on the opportunity to stand at the top and wonder at the beauty of the world.

Explore the Local Flora at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

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If your Table Mountain trip has left you inspired to find out more about South Africa’s unique plants and flowers, you will find no better place to learn about and admire the flora than in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. You will be amazed to find such a vast and diverse piece of paradise so close to a major city centre like Cape Town.

The Gardens make for hours of pleasurable walking and lounging around on lawns. The Boomslang Treetop Walkway is particularly popular and is a great vantage point from which to take in the whole of the Gardens. There’s a fantastic tearoom with a varied and delicious menu, from healthy to indulgent. You can even order your food as a picnic to take out into the park.

We’ve only scratched the surface, but it’s clear to see why Cape Town should be top of your list when you write to Santa to let him know that, actually, what you really want this year is a bit of sunshine and relaxation.