A solo trip to Bath in the winter off-season
Free walking tours, spa visits, and more.
My solo trip at a glance:
Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Destination: Bath, England
Number of nights: Three
Biggest fear was: It would rain the whole time (it didn’t!)
Most excited for: Seeing Bath’s Georgian architecture up close
Why I wanted to go:
I’ve been to England quite a few times but until this trip, I’ve always stayed in London. This time, I wanted to venture outside of the capital to see more of the country, but not go too far (I only had a few days to spare). Bath fit the bill as a charming historic city with lots to see and do, while still an easy, 1.5-hour train ride from London. Because I was visiting in the winter off-season, I knew Bath wouldn’t be as crowded, allowing me to see more of the highlights and not have to book everything in advance.
How I balanced spontaneity with planning:
As a solo traveler, I always feel more comfortable knowing where I’m going to sleep, so I booked my accommodation and my transportation to and from Bath well ahead of time. I wanted a centrally located, clean hotel within my budget—which I found in the Hotel Indigo. I also paid particular attention to any reviews that mentioned safety or were written by solo travelers. I flew from Vancouver to London then took a bus to Bath. On the way back, I took a train from Bath to London through National Rail—it was only a few pounds more and way more comfortable than the bus—before my flight home.
I began my travel research about two months out by saving museums, galleries, parks, restaurants, and cafes on a map. But because nothing was set in stone, I could still be spontaneous, like when I joined a small crowd gathered on the Pulteney Bridge. We cheered as local rescue workers practiced a drill where they took turns saving one team member who had “fallen” into the dam below.
The people I met:
When I travel solo, I have a much easier time striking up conversations with strangers. I’m more social and interested in making connections, since I’m not sharing my trip with anyone from home.
On this solo trip, I met Ian, the concierge at Hotel Indigo. I arrived early before check-in and despite it being busy at the hotel, Ian took the time to walk me through a local map h and ask about my travels. He made me feel very welcome and checked in with me throughout my trip.
If I have only one solo-travel tip, it's this:
Start small; there’s no reason why you have to leap into the deep end. Take a solo trip close to home, only for a few days. Going just a little bit outside of your comfort zone will give you the confidence to book a bigger trip later.
How I kept costs at bay:
Free walking tours are always a good way to get acquainted with a new city, meet new people, and pick up local recs; that's why I started with the Mayor’s Honorary Guides free walking tour, which ventured through the old town, Royal Crescent, The Circus, and more.
The times when I felt safe/unsafe:
Bath is a bigger city with street lights and other people around. So overall I felt very safe—even after dark, heading back to the hotel after dinner.
The only time I felt unsafe was walking through the eerie exhibits at Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein—but I think that was the point.
What I learned about myself:
One of the perks of solo travel is that you can completely indulge in your own interests and bring them back to your life at home. After all, you set the itinerary; you decide what you want to do and for how long. On this trip, that meant reading at Society Cafe, delicious latte in-hand, and watching a film about racial injustice at the Holburne Museum.
My Bath cheat sheet:
- Noya’s Kitchen serves delicious chicken curry; as a solo diner, I was able to score a last-minute res (larger groups were being turned away).
- Don't sleep on Sally Lunn’s brioche-like Bath buns—I opted for a sweet-savory mix with half smoked salmon and half jam and cream. There's also a small museum about Bath’s famous baker downstairs.
- Many visitors view The Roman Baths from the outside, but be sure to go in; you can't bathe here, but the audio guide has a fantastic overview of the city's Roman history.
- If you’re in the mood to actually try out a bath, head down the street to Thermae Bath Spa.
- While the multi-sensory Mary Shelley's House of Frankenstein is spooky, it's also incredibly well researched. I learned so much about the famous Bath resident and her scandalous romantic life.
- Hotel Indigo mixes Georgian architecture and quirky, modern design. It’s right in the city center, allowing easy access to points of interest and transit.