All of Bath’s big-ticket sites are within orbit of the Bird, which is perched on Pulteney Road, overlooking Bath Abbey and the Recreation Ground.
Fly into Bristol Airport, where flights arrive direct from major destinations around Europe. As the crow flies, it’ll take you around 40 minutes to drive to the hotel. Transfers can be arranged for £45 each way.
Trains run direct from London Paddington to Bath Spa station; from there, the hotel is a 15-minute walk away. If you’re travelling from Bristol, the station is one stop away from Bristol Temple Meads.
From London, the hotel is roughly a three-hour drive away via the M4 – once you’ve left the city behind the drive is verdantly scenic, passing through the North Wessex Downs. From Bristol the drive is less than an hour via the A4. There’s free parking onsite (check-out at 11am).
Worth getting out of bed for
The Bird’s eye view is of Bath Abbey and the Recreation Ground, so you’ve the perfect perch for exploring this glorious Georgian city. And one of the city’s grandest streets is just steps from your door – Great Pulteney Street has some of the finest listed buildings and Palladian architecture in Bath – all in honey-hued stone. Bath’s hottest property Jane Austen and anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce both lived here; and at one end there’s Robert Adam’s elegant Pulteney Bridge, at the other lies the Holburne Museum. This houses the collection of art enthusiast Sir William Holburne; his interests mainly lay in bronze sculptures, silver and porcelain pieces and Dutch landscapes, so if that’s not your cup of tea, you can wander round Bath’s oldest park, Sydney Gardens, home to tennis courts, a children’s play area and film screenings and live music in summer months.
If a stroll down Great Pulteney Street didn’t give you the Jane Austen fix you craved, fear not: the creator of wet-shirt fantasies and bumpy-road romances is felt throughout the city – learn more about her life at the Jane Austen Centre, attend balls and dress-up promenades at the 10-day Jane Austen Festival in September or download the self-guided In the Footsteps of Jane Austen tour. And for more graceful façades, climb up to the Royal Crescent, a curve of covetable manses with far-reaching views out to the countryside. There’s a museum about the crescent’s history at No. 1. Or skip a little further back in history with a restorative spell at the Roman Baths; see the sacred spring and temple, take an Above and Below tour to get an idea of the scale of the original baths (you’ll need comfy footwear), and pose with statues of emperors on the terrace. You can try some of the mineral-rich waters, but the hot springs have long closed; however, should you wish to soak yourself into a serene state, Homewood and Thermae Bath spas have bath tub-warm waters to wallow in and indulgent treatments. Or immerse yourself in nature: the National Trust’s circular skyline walk takes around four hours to complete, but for your efforts you’ll get panoramic views out to the Blackdown Hills and pass through tucked-away valleys and beech woodland. Or you can tackle the 102-mile Cotswold Way (beware there are steep sections); but if languid is your preferred speed, seek out the Mayor’s Guides, who offer free twice-daily city tours. Ghost walks that uncover the spookier side of the city take place from 8pm from Wednesday to Sunday evenings. These tours leave from Bath Abbey, a place of several eerie sightings – but it’s worth visiting the Gothic structure by day to admire the handiwork of Sir George Gilbert Scott and learn of its long and winding history.
Scope out the city’s secret green spots on a Hidden Gardens of Bath tour, where you’ll see three private gardens and finish with afternoon tea, or drift along the Avon with Pulteney Cruisers. Or for more watery fun, head out to Warleigh Weir for a spot of wild swimming.
Enjoy zingy Vietnamese flavours at Noya’s Kitchen’s five-course supper club on Friday nights; the menu varies depending on what the owner decides to make that night, but expect rolls packed with fat prawns, deliciously pungent soups and fragrant curries. The restaurant also holds pho and curry nights on Thursdays and Saturdays. For carnitas tacos, sour-cream-slathered rice bowls and more than 100 tequilas and mezcals, try Mexican joint Dos Dedos (responsibly, mind). Beckford Bottle Shop is primarily a place to stock up on select slosh, sniff and sip wines, but they also have a tempting menu of small plates and sharing boards. Fill your table with fried courgettes with aioli, Bath chaps (pig cheeks) with Bramley apple sauce, burrata with peach and speck and other nibbly bits. At Smith stablemate the Queensberry Hotel, you’ll find the city’s only Michelin-starred eatery – the Olive Tree is helmed by super chef Chris Cleghorn, whose frequently changing menus aim to surprise. Choose from six or nine courses (vegetarian options are available) and you’ll be well-fed with dishes such as scallops with pink grapefruit, Woolley Park farm duck with kumquat, onion tart with truffle, and celeriac with lovage and mustard. And for more top British produce, book a table at Clayton’s Kitchen for honey-roasted Creedy Carver duck breast, port-wine-drizzled Wiltshire lamb or Pembrokeshire crab with pickled pear and a lengthy list of hearty puds.
Wild Café (10A Queen Street) has bread hand-baked in Bath, meat from local butchers and sausages from Downland Farm, which makes it an excellent brunching spot. The list of options is legion, running from fruity pancake stacks to oak-smoked kippers via eggs all ways and veggie brekkies.
The Hideout Bath was originally a Tudor refuge for thieves, highwaymen and other scoundrel sorts – the clientele has changed somewhat, but with a wide array of whiskies to hand, you may still find a little debauchery…