It’s impossible not to love Bath. The city evokes Jane Austen romance, Roman ruins, and Regency architecture like no other place in England. On all my trips to Bath I’ve been so busy admiring the outsides of buildings I haven’t spent much time inside them. But now that I’m back to do this advertising feature with Visit Bath, I’m ready to discover the best independent shops and restaurants in Bath.
I meet my group at Abbey Hotel, where we’re staying the night. We catch up over coffees in the newly refurbished cafe on the ground floor before checking into our rooms. Mine has a view of the city, and apart from some noise, it’s a great place to stay in the heart of Bath.
Restaurants in Bath
But we’re not staying in the hotel for long. We have an ambitious itinerary for our trip because Bath has so many independent makers, creators, and chefs doing inventive things in beautiful spaces.
Acorn Restaurant in Bath
One of them is Acorn Restaurant, a vegan restaurant in Bath I’ve been wanting to try for years. We head over to enjoy a tasting menu with a wine pairing, and everything from donkey carrots with parsley and almonds to mushroom parfait with celeriac and chicory goes down a treat.
The space itself is intimate and bright, and the restaurant is housed in one of Bath’s oldest buildings. The whole experience is a great introduction to Bath’s creative culinary scene.
And that’s to say nothing of Swoon, where we go for gelato in the afternoon. This place makes its own sorbets, cakes, and gelatos on site, many of which contain local ingredients.
I really like the unique range of flavors they’ve come up with, and that they rotate them regularly. Carrot cake gelato, anyone?
Later in the day it’s wine o’clock at Le Vignoble. This place has tables surrounded by self-service wine dispensers, making tasting both fun and adventurous.
We settle into a long table at a banquette and sample their house wines along with sinfully rich cheese and charcuterie platters.
Koffmann & Mr White’s
It’s hard to imagine I’ll have room for dinner after all the food I’ve eaten. But by the time I sit down at Koffmann & Mr White’s, the English and French brasserie in Abbey Hotel, I’m feeling peckish.
The salad starter lacks flavor, but the polenta is rich and filling. I also love the dining room’s green walls and the fact that we eat by candlelight.
I’m back in the restaurant the following morning for breakfast, where the candles have given way to natural light. A delicious meal of poached eggs and smoked salmon on toast is a great way to start the day.
The Beckford Bottle Shop
And lunch is the ideal way to continue it. The Beckford Bottle Shop is a small plates restaurant in Bath with over 250 wines lining the walls. Set in a historic row of shops, the restaurant has great ambiance and stylish decor.
We feast on everything from British cheeses to skate wing with brown shrimp and sea herbs. My favorite dish is the kohlrabi salad with hazelnuts and apple dressing. It’s a crisp, refreshing number that cuts through the heavier elements of the meal.
Good Day Cafe
We save dessert for later, as we’re off to Good Day Cafe, a pretty-in-pink place on a narrow street in the city center. The cakes are as beautiful as they are delicious, and the beetroot lattes come in millennial pink. There’s even a wall with pictures of local dogs. Adorable.
Independent Shops in Bath
But our time in Bath isn’t just about eating. There are a lot of creative shops in the city center, and between restaurants we get a chance to explore them.
Bath Aqua Glass
We start at Bath Aqua Theatre of Glass, where the shop gives way to a glass blowing studio. We watch a demonstration, then try our hands at making our own bauble.
It’s not as easy as it looks, but it’s fun to see the finished products the following day when they’re ready to take home.
Graham & Green
After glassblowing, we walk down a street full of golden Bath stone buildings to get to Graham & Green. I’m excited to visit this furniture shop in Bath’s artisan quarter, not least because I recently bought a chair from their online store.
Seeing Graham & Green’s bright and eclectic collection in person tempts me to fill my flat with it.
Grace & Ted
From furniture, we move to clothing. Grace & Ted specializes in the resale of pre-owned designer clothing and accessories.
We browse the racks of dresses, shoes, and handbags, looking for unique pieces and one-of-a-kinds as we learn about the shop’s philosophy of encouraging people to invest in quality clothing.
V V Rouleaux
The next day it’s time for us to create our own accessories. V V Rouleaux is a modern haberdashery selling couture trimmings, colorful ribbons, and fashionable hats.
The shop has an atelier in the back where we make our own flower ribbon headdresses (in my case, with a lot of help from the workshop leaders). It’s fun to channel our own creativity after seeing so much of it in the shops and restaurants in Bath.
Topping & Company Booksellers
From fashion we move to literature. Topping & Company Booksellers is an independent bookshop in Bath with over 45,000 titles ranging from poetry to cooking, fiction, and design.
I love the way they serve complimentary tea, coffee, and water to anyone browsing in the shop, and when I hear about their regular events it makes me want to come back for one soon.
The final stop on our independent Bath itinerary is Chanii B. International shoe designer Chantal Pilon welcomes us to the shop, which is full of her colorful limited-edition designs.
She tells us she’s worked for big brands in the past, but ventured out on her own seven years ago to make the unique designs her brand is now known for.
After drooling over heels, boots, and flats, I walk to Bath Spa station to take the train back to London. I’m carrying my glass bauble and other goodies I acquired along the way, and I’m also bringing home the knowledge that there’s more to Bath than Regency facades and glowing stone exteriors. I look forward to exploring more independent shops and restaurants in Bath on my next visit.
This is an advertising feature with Visit Bath. Train tickets were provided by GWR.
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