Take the Tea Room Tour
By Caron Parsons
Taking in the historic sights of Bath can be a little exhausting - so what better way of touring the Georgian city than via some of its refreshment centres. Caron Parsons drew the short straw and took off on a tea room tour of Bath.
Before we start the tour I have to admit it has not been done in a scientific manner, will not take in all of Bath's many attractions and is no way a comprehensive guide to Bath's many, many restaurants and cafes.
But it but will give you some potted highlights, and a nice cuppa, if you only have a few hours in the historic city.
A crucial part of any tour is of course knowing where to start and if you are coming to Bath by train the most foot-saving way is probably to head out to the farthest - and highest - point before heading back downhill.
If you're wanting to see John Wood's architectural wonders The Circus and Royal Crescent it's worth heading to them first. Then after marvelling at the architectural masterpieces head down Gay Street to the Jane Austin Centre where you can find out more about Bath's famous author and her works and indulge in a leisurely break.
The Centre's Regency Tea Rooms on the second floor are free to enter and give a real flavour of Regency life, with their quiet and refined setting.
Why not enjoy Tea With Mr Darcy, a high tea including sandwiches, cakes, scone and tea. Or even Bingley's Brownies or Cousin Collins Crumpets!
After stoking up on Darcy's Millionaires Shortbread (very yummy) you can head down Milsom Street and check out some of Bath's shops and quaint little alleyways, before heading towards Pulteney Bridge and some lovely views out over the weir.
Time for another break and this time somewhere a little different, at The Bridge Coffee Shop on the very corner of the bridge.
It's a bit of a tight squeeze (only about five tables) and nowhere near as refined as the Regency Tea Rooms, but for the cost conscious you can get a nice cup of tea and a jacket potato or filled baguette for only a few pounds.
It's also a great stopping off point before visiting the Victoria Art Gallery, which is directly opposite, or popping along to the Guildhall covered market which is just round the corner.
From there head around to Cheap Street for our next stop and the Minerva Chocolaterie and Tea Rooms, where the incredible smell of melted chocolate will have you piling on the pounds - and gaining valuable energy.
My son heartedly recommends the hot milk chocolate here and it has the added advantage of a great outlook, as a second entrance opens onto the courtyard in front of Bath Abbey.
A tour of the abbey - founded in the 7th Century and subsequently revamped during the 10th, 12th and 16th into one of the largest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture in the West Country - is a must, after which of course you will require more sustenance.
And where better to indulge in Afternoon Tea that at Bath's exquisitely posh Pump Rooms where you can sit back and listen to live background music while munching your way through a pile of sandwiches, tartlets, cakes and pastries and a pot of tea or coffee.
Those of you exhausted by this time might even prefer the Champagne Tea option!
You can also 'take the waters' at the Pump Room with a glass of warm water from Bath's underground springs - for those with a delicate palate I would recommend taking this before your tea though - you may want to wash away the taste!
After tea head next door to the Roman Baths and find out more about Bath's Roman heritage before popping across to Abbey Street where the Hands Tea Rooms offers a wide range of specialist teas including the Russian Caravan Special, which apparently has a "hint of exotic smoke".
You can finish off your tour round the corner at Bath's most famous tea rooms, Sally Lunn's in North Parade Passage.
The house, built in 1482, is the oldest in Bath and is where Sally herself lived in 1680 and where she invented her famous Sally Lunn's Bun.
It's worth touring the tea room's fascinating museum, which gives an idea of Bath's history from a different perspective and if you are in a hurry you can take away Sally's buns in a special gift box to indulge in later.
Time then to head downhill, past the Southgate Centre to the train station where our tour ends, with full bellies and aching feet, after hopefully, finding out a little more about the vast delights of the city of Bath.
last updated: 21/04/2008 at 15:00
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