Taking the waters may be beneficial but sometimes only a martini flight and six course tasting menu will cut it. Editor Jo and chums took a turn around the city on the trail of the ultimate girls’ weekend (spoiler: salad and yoga do not feature)
A comfortable base from which to hit the city is essential, obvs. We stayed at The Queensberry on Russel Street for the glam boutique décor and because its brilliant Olive Tree restaurant in the basement makes getting home in heels a doddle rather than a hobble.
The bedrooms are sumptuous – we were treated to hers n’ hers walk in showers and double basins for sociable make-up application – while the comfy communal lounge and smart bar are an added bonus. Dinner was the highlight though, with Chris Cleghorn’s tasting menus a feast of contemporary cooking (pictured above), accompanied by a genuinely interesting and thoughtfully put together wine list.
Nothing happens before coffee, of course, so we started Saturday at new speciality coffee shop, Cascara, for a Kenyan filter, a couple of flat whites and some Bertinet Bakery goat’s cheese croissants, which owner Jay (pictured with Ana), let us nip up the road for. Astonishingly, it felt a bit early for cake.
As Austen (herself a total shop-aholic) put it: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a woman on a girls’ weekend in autumn, must be in want of a new pair of winter boots’, so after hitting a few of Bath’s boutiques, we thought we’d check out how Jane and the girls rocked it. The Fashion Museum is an entertaining distraction and guess what? They let visitors try on period bonnets, corsets and dresses. It made us VERY happy.
To see three greedy girls through from morning pastries to cocktails and dinner, afternoon tea at the Abbey Hotel did the trick. Sandwiches, freshly baked scones (with cream and jam, natch) and mini cakes are served in the relaxed lounge, and the hotel’s cheerful vibe and lack of pretension makes it easy to sink into the sofas for a couple of hours, periodically refreshing oneself with caffeine and sugar.
Flight of fancy
Every woman needs a little black book of good cocktail bars, because life is too short for a “goldfish bowl” of Blue Lagoon. Happily, it’s nothing but sheer class at The Royal Crescent Hotel, where award winning head mixologist Orlando and F&B manager Anthony turn pre-dinner drinks into theatre. The Grey Goose martini flight was a wicked warm-up, but a stonking whisky sour was undoubtedly the main event.
Morning after thrills
After cocktails and an indulgent multi-course dinner with wine at the Olive Tree, it’s safe to say that we peeped at Sunday morning through jaded eyes. But, oh, if only every city had a Thermae Bath Spa (pictured above) to ease one into the day … Bobbing about in steaming 35˚c waters under a bright blue sky is our new favourite hangover cure. Oh, and the four huge, glass, aroma steam rooms (sandlewood came out tops), cold showers and Minerva Pool all helped too.
After all of the above, you’d think that Sunday lunch would be low on the priority list, but no, this was a girls’ greedy weekend after all. The Bath Pub Co. is loved for its four excellent dining pubs in the city and so The Chequers, just round the corner from The Queensberry was the obvious choice. Crickey, it’s good. From the virgin bloody mary to kick things off, to the Sunday roast chicken with stuffing and bread sauce, followed by lavender pannacotta with strawberry sorbet, balsamic jelly, lemon puree and black pepper meringue, it was a delight.
The all-in-one option
An alternative to a weekend slap-bang in the city is to base yourself at a glamorous gourmet hotel with everything on tap.
Combe Grove is the newly refurbished hotel, restaurant, leisure club and spa set in countryside on the edge of the city. The big draws are the jaw-dropping views over the valley, decadent décor that’s been installed throughout the main Georgian manor house and spa facilities including indoor and outdoor pools, steam room, gym and classes.
Greedy girls will like the food, care of head chef Leigh Evans (ex of The Chequers), which also includes a casual bar menu if you just want a high-end burger and fries. Make time to visit the beautiful copper bar (like you wouldn’t?!), where the obsessive team of mixologists craft an inventive menu of cocktails created with homemade bitters, vermouth and lemon cello (pictured above). And if you do want to head into the city, it’s only a tenner in a taxi.
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