THERE are many factors that make Bath one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK throughout the year.

The historic Roman Baths, the glorious Abbey, the wonderful architecture. I could go on.

But it really does come to life during the festive season when the Bath Christmas Market twinkles into life.

I first went to the market about five years ago and was instantly captivated. It does feel a bit more special than in other towns, with the beautifully decorated wooden chalets being placed in the shadow of the Abbey, choirs carolling and delicious scents filling the crisp winter air.

Even the most famous miser of them all, Ebenezer Scrooge, would find it hard not to get into the Christmas spirit in Bath.

This year it takes place from November 24 - December 10 and now in its 17th year, there are more chalets than ever to choose from - over 200 - which is 30 more than last year.

The team behind the market take time to handpick the best stallholders who can offer real quality and variety to ensure that if you are treating yourself or a loved one, there is plenty of choice on offer.

A lot come from the area and make their own products, so visitors know they are supporting small businesses and helping them grow.

It is ideally located and takes on an even more festive feel after dark with projected illuminations onto the abbey and twinkling fairy lights setting the perfect backdrop to enjoy a mulled wine, mince pie or any number of delectable offerings on show at the stalls.

This heady mix obviously makes it an attractive proposition for tourists from the UK and all over the globe - so it will be busy. Be prepared for that and it makes it no less enjoyable as you bustle away into the crowds and share a friendly word with stallholders.

An insider tip is to visit between Sunday and Thursday as the market is normally a little quieter and room rates can be cheaper.

So get those holiday dates booked in with your boss asap.

If you are in any need of extra help in finding your way around town, then the Tourist Information Office is just a stones throw away, offering all manner of advice on the array of activities, museums and attractions on offer to a visitor to Bath.

If you are looking for a place to stay then why not try Combe Grove.

Perched on the fabulously named Brassknocker Hill it is barely a few minutes drive out of the bustling town centre of Bath, but it is a quiet, relaxing haven to enjoy time to wind down.

The sense of relaxation and calm are helped when you turn off the main road and begin to wend your way through the woodland canopy on a road that stretches out before you. Under a couple of archways, round the corner and you eventually reach the car park - and relax.

Beautiful rooms with large windows allow plenty of light in and offer fantastic view of 76 acres of woodland surrounding the 18th Century manor house.

In a garden balcony room like mine, there are wonderful window seats to sit in and admire the view with a book and a cup of tea.

Its a perfect place to watch a sunset and sunrise, with the early morning mist depositing itself in the pockets of the hillside, making for a dreamy start to the day.

The rooms each have their own individual design twist with mine having a beautifully colourful and decorative wall which perfectly matched the furniture. The bathroom was lovely, clean, spacious and spotless.

The bar is well-stocked and offers a wide array of drinks for all tastes, with spirits, beers and cocktails in bountiful supply. The dinner menu is equally impressive with a focus on seasonal and local produce, and there is a wonderfully cosy lounge complete with roaring fire in which to enjoy a postprandial drink before retiring to your room for the night.

Combe Grove places a large emphasis on health and wellbeing with plenty on offer to sate body and mind.

There are daily classes and residential courses including yoga, meditation, painting and writing, as well as a programme of practical courses such as bee-keeping, dry-stone walling and hedge-laying.

A leisure club and spa are on offer to guests so make sure you bring your swimming costume to enjoy a sauna, steam room and swim in the pool. There are also a wide range of treatments on offer which can be read in full on the website.

The tranquility of the place means you can simply leave all the noise of the outside world at the gates.

Life is busy, noisy and complicated so having a place like this to escape to is a wonderful feeling.

What better place to slip away to after a wonderful day spent among the festive cheer of the Bath Christmas Market.

Combe Grove Hotel, Brassknocker Hill, Bath, Somerset BA2 7HU

01225 834644

***Combe Grove is currently offering a Christmas Escape package, which includes a reflexology treatment.

So make the most of the holiday season, spending time with your friends, meet with the family or just escape on your own for some time.

If you like being active, book into our wide range of classes, use the gym or take a refreshing walk amongst nature.

If you prefer to relax, book a therapy treatment, unwind by the pool or curl up with a book by the fire.

And with Bath on your doorstep you can enjoy the pleasures of wandering around our beautiful world heritage city, from the Roman Baths to the Royal Crescent, and be back in time for tea and cake. Bed and breakfast rooms are available throughout December but are sure to fill up soon as the Christmas Market approaches.