Honeymoon in Bath
Continued (page 2 of 3)
Ston Easton Park can keep you busy with balloon rides over the countryside, tennis, trout-fishing, and golf. Or hop in the car and wend your way to precious Wells, the so-called smallest city in the country, with a huge English-Gothic cathedral in the center.
Seven miles down the road, near the village of Shepton Mallet, is Charlton House, with 25 rooms. Owned by English designer and sportsman Roger Saul, whose famed Mulberry line covers every settee, love seat, and canopy bed within, Charlton House is marked by humor and whimsy—witness the antique opera box that hangs over the dining-room entrance. Ask for the Adam and Eve Suite—the figures of the biblical lovers are carved into an ornate 16th-century headboard, and the bed is covered with a majestic burgundy velvet bedspread.
A big reason many come great distances to Charlton House is the food. The recipient of an esteemed Michelin star, the Mulberry Restaurant is perched above glorious gardens. Chef Simon Crannage marries Continental flavors with those of the lusty local produce. On a tender summer evening, take a table for two in the garden and let him fix you something creatively light: a sweet-potato-and-cumin soup, English sea bass salad with asparagus, and a dessert of fresh summer berries with passion-fruit soup and piña colada sorbet.
Before you leave the area, save a day or more for exploring the city of Bath, as perfectly Georgian and charming today as it was when Jane Austen lived and wrote here. Like Rome, it has seven hills and is clad in rows and crescents of tan stone buildings that glow in the changing sunlight. Bath's narrow, busy streets and subtle surprises demand you make your way on foot. Start at Kingston Parade, the buzzing main square beneath the Gothic towers of Bath Abbey. Grab a bench or café table, watch a juggler or violinist, then leave the happy hubbub behind and step back two millennia into the Roman Baths, an important Roman temple and bathing complex built around local hot springs that are still flowing. A walk through the remarkable excavations here will show you how the Romans frolicked in these colonnaded pools of bubbling-hot green water.
Stroll the city's back lanes and shopping streets and stop for a coffee, pastry, or gelato at one of the many Continental-style cafés. Sally Lunn's, the oldest house in Bath, has been baking the Sally Lunn Bun since 1680. Bath is justly proud of its many one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques. Buy milady a frothy bonnet at The British Hatter and stop at Mee on Bartlett Street, which sells fancy handmade lingerie, perfume, and silk flowers. The family-run Duo of Bath has shoes, boots, and handbags from Europe.
Bath is renowned for its historic crescents, semicircular rows of posh town houses that wrap around elegant small parks. Hand in hand, you can climb to the Circus, a perfect 18th-century circle of town houses, and then still higher to the Royal Crescent, an arcing sweep of 30 connected houses, built around the time of the American Revolution. Encompassing Nos. 15 and 16 is the Royal Crescent Hotel, home to the much acclaimed restaurant Pimpernel's. Ask for the Crescent Suite, with pastel wallpaper, gilded mirrors, and large windows looking onto Royal Victoria Park.