Having had a few of these, I know it’s not always easy to work out what to do. Notoriously, men apparently stress at the last minute to organise something and the results are 50:50. Over the years, we’ve been to an English Heritage site, had a quiet one at home and done a couple of city breaks (London and Birmingham)
This time around I didn’t have too much time to plan but worked out that there is almost a formula to a good anniversary so I had something up my sleeve for when our fortunes changed and we had some money come in the Friday before the Monday that was our anniversary. The issue this year was that our anniversary fell on the May Bank Holiday and the place I had in mind was well, an epic tourist attraction.
But nevertheless, I applied my “formula” and was away. What’s the secret? An Anniversary is basically a more interesting, slightly longer date night. Whether we want to believe it or not, it’s still mostly about the girls but that’s fine… really.
The Anniversary Formula
1. PLAN HARD!
Before you even decide where you’re going, make sure you have each of these things written down:
These are the basics right? Then for the number of days you are away, re-write these again. If it’s one day then no hotel. This doesn’t mean you have to spend money on these things or get flashy. They are the basics. You need to eat, you might want a celebratory drink, you’ll probably want to find a bed and you’ll want to do something in between all of that.
The point is being prepared. Have it handled. Have an idea at least. Be in control of the day.
2. DEAL WITH THE DETAILS
Write down each of these and if you need them get them all in your phone:
– Back-up Dinner
– Taxi Number
– Hotel Address
– Dinner Address
– Directions to places
– Timings of attractions
– Cost of attractions
– Hotel Check-in and Out Times
Again, even if you’re going to the cinema and a cheeky Nando’s – this planning still applies.
So when it fell to me this year to make our anniversary happen, I thought about the above and then the third important thing –
3. MAKE IT YOURS
When we go away, we like to DISCOVER and EAT. A day out is accompanied by a great meal. This is our thing.
Whatever makes you guys – you guys, do something that is true to that. Drink? Road trips? Beaches? Shopping? Extreme Sports? Whatever – try and do it.
It’s as simple as that. So when I was sat thinking about ANNIVERSARY 2015, there was one perfect place to go. A place I had been to before when friends were at University, somewhere not too far, somewhere interesting, steeped in history with plenty to discover, with one of my favourite cocktail bars in the world and the potential to bask in pure luxury, all within a stone’s throw from a hotel room.
It is one of those cities you can forget exists, nestled away in the South West (but not South-south West), this city is gorgeous to look at and be around. A city built from the earth it sits on, the magnolia Bath stone lines the streets to make a perfectly picturesque setting, in the British countryside. Bath, aptly named, is famous for it’s Baths. The Roman Baths are a huge tourist attraction in the heart of the city and the Thermae Bath Spa just opposite provides the modern equivalent.
It is well equipped for an avid shopper and thanks to its large student population has a good few haunts to have a good few laughs. It worked for me so I set at applying the above. One by one everything set into place and on 2 days planning over the weekend and some handy phone calls and emails on the day, it provided an incredible anniversary break.
How it went down
I like to keep major outings that I organise a surprise. So we had a lazy morning and started our way down the M5 from Birmingham. I was really surprised that there was little traffic on the motorway, until we came off and hit Bath, especially as it was a Bank holiday. It took Elizabeth until she had the choice of “Bath” or “Stroud” to make her Cluedo-esque guess at where we were going.
We would be getting in just in time for lunch, staying at a brand new Premier Inn in the middle of town and I had an idea of where were going for lunch thanks to a recommendation from a friend. Dinner was already booked, drinks after sorted and thanks to the hotels location, we didn’t need any taxi’s.
Walking around town on a bank holiday was manic! It was absolutely rammed. There were street artists, musicians, tourists, families, students, tour groups with guides – it was like being in Stratford on any given weekend. I think Bath is this regions equivalent. It might have been busy but it was awesome. Lively, buzzing and fun to watch and be a part of. Walking around you get glimpses of what lies the other side of the city centre – the rolling hills and countryside.
Lunch : The West Gate
Actually lunch, didn’t work out on first attempt. The Firehouse, which was recommended by my friend was closing early (very odd considering the heaps of customers walking around) so we walked around some more until we found a pub and had lunch there. We’re glad we found it as it provided a nice retreat from the crowds and had some great food. We had the homemade Sausage Roll and Scotch Egg and the Salt and Pepper Squid. Everything was great, especially the Sausage Roll. Dinner was booked early so we mooched around some more, watched the musicians, had some coffee and chilled. I wanted to find a pub that had boardgames but couldn’t find one so found a pub near where we were going for dinner and pitched up there, trying some proper Somerset Cider and working up an appetite. The Raven was perfect for some pre-drinks.
Dinner : Ole Tapas
I’ll keep this short – absolutely incredible. Believe the hype (3rd on Tripadvisor). This tiny 6-table room, houses one of the most amazing Tapas restaurants I’ve ever been to. Surrounding a bar they have managed to fit chairs for true tapas at the bar, 6 tables for diners and even a small stage for a band, We had several dishes and a bottle of Rioja. This is how Tapas should be. Rich in flavour and atmosphere. When the two-man band started, we really didn’t want to leave but having spent two and a half hours there already, we thought we should.
Everything about this place was on point, I can not recommend it enough. we had a table right up against the window so we could people watch and see the sky as the sunset. It really was special. I was jealous of the Bath residents that could come here whenever they wanted.
Drinks : Sub13
I’d been looking forward to going back to this bar all day. Run by true bartenders and mixologists, the cocktails are impeccable, as is the venue. Set underground, the ambient lighting, alcoves and purely private feel to place is wonderful. They have a nice garden too which I have visited previously but it was getting a bit cold for the evening. We had a few drinks and let the day settle. If you ever visit, sit and speak to the bar staff, they really know their stuff and are more than happy to sit with you and give a great education in their craft. This is the bar that inspired me to become a mixologist and learn the art as I have over the 7 years since I last went.
Hotel : Premier Inn
We’re fans of Premier Inn. Not the least that they are everywhere, but they have comfy beds, good size rooms and they put their service on the table – if it isn’t good enough, your money back. Who can complain with that. Premier Inn Bath is in a great location. a short walk from the centre and is brand spanking new.
This was going to be our DISCOVERY day. The Roman Baths was on the agenda along with a surprise for the both of us. But first, as is one of our things – Wetherspoons breakfast! The Premier Inn is in the same complex as a Wetherspoons, a Nandos, a Costa, a Chinese Buffet and a Cinema – my mecca.
Then we walked around and contemplated some shopping. Realising there was so much to see in Bath, we decided we’d likely need to come back at some point.
Do : Roman Baths
While it is quite steep to go in at £14 per adult, I can say it is worth it. After all the city is named for the placed. Not to give any spoilers, it’s one of the most well presented museums I’ve seen. Well preserved, described and planned. The buildings date back to the Roman times, obviously, but the fact that it is one of only 3 hot springs in the country, all of which are in a around Bath and that it was buried and forgotten for hundreds of years was enough to realise it was something special. You get a voice-guide-phone thing included in the ticket price and a free 45 minute tour on the hour. We did the guided tour to save time as I had something else planned for the rest of the afternoon…
Do : Thermae Bath Spa
Moving from old to new, the Thermae Bath Spa, famed for it’s rooftop thermal pool overlooking the cathedral and countryside was perfect way to end the trip. I really wanted to go to the Spa and an Anniversary was the perfect excuse.
This tastefully constructed Spa is a unique experience and I had largely based the entire trip around it. Like most Spa’s there are packages and treatments but given our time and the fact we both have injuries, treatments were not on the cards for us this visit. I had emailed the Spa to ask if I could take pictures while there, knowing I wanted to cover it for you guys and for Awesome Wave. So while we were on our way, deciding on timings, we got a call from the PR team offering to host us and invite us for Dinner. We couldn’t take any pictures but could enjoy the spa and have some dinner as their guests. This was a wonderful gesture as I thought their Twilight for Two package was pretty good already.
I’ve been to a few Spa’s before but this was something else. From the building itself to the private pool to the steam rooms, all the way up to the famed rooftop pool. Perhaps one of the most surprising things the Spa had to offer was – the food. After making our way from the basement Minerva Pool where we got acclimatised, up to the steam rooms, enjoying 5 different scented and therapeutic steams and after half an hour or so spent in the rooftop pool, we went to have something to eat. What we expected was sandwiches and crisps. What we got was impeccably flavoured, well cooked, good portioned dishes with excellent staff. Sometimes you can define a place by the way it deals with a problem. We felt the rice on that came with the Thai green Curry was a touch undercooked for us, so we told the waitress and she fixed it. No fuss, no bother, just done. Couldn’t ask for more. I had, in a Spa of all places, Chorizo and Black Pudding Wellington! This blew my mind. It was probably the last thing I expected from a Spa and it tasted great. As someone who doesn’t eat beef, I don’t get to try something “Wellington” very often. This followed by a really tasty brownie for dessert and a tea was a really unexpected surprise. If you are visiting the Spa, make the restaurant part of the visit.
The Spa give you a time allocation, facilitated by a wrist band that also locks and unlocks your locker. Bath robes and slippers are provided and when they get too wet, can be replaced. Eating in the restaurant meant that the time “stops” and when you are finished it starts again. You just tap in and tap out. Meaning you don’t lose out and can prolong your stay a little while longer.
We decided to spend the rest of our time at the Spa, unsurprisingly, in the rooftop pool. Filled with the thermal waters straight from the spring, the heated pool that erupts every now and then to replenish the thermal waters is absolutely magnificent. Even with a good number of other people in the pool, it was relaxing and invigorating at the same time. The top of the cathedral is visible one side, set against a backdrop of the countryside hills that surround the entire city.
This was what absolutely smashed the Anniversary.
In one day we went from old to new, and relaxed liked the Romans did, in the same waters. This was very cool. While the whole trip was great, the dinner at Ole Tapas and Thermae Bath Spa were the highlights for us. Learning the past at the Roman Baths added to magic of Thermae, eating Tapas because it was very us, being in the country and enjoying the scenery made the trip all in all, a success.
So with a pretty detailed example, this is how to smash an anniversary. No matter how big or small, PLAN HARD, DEAL WITH THE DETAILS and MAKE IT YOURS!