Exploring Bath Through its Independent Shops and Restaurants
Everyone knows that independent businesses such as shops and restaurants are the life and soul of a city, and in the case of Bath in England it’s especially true. Bath is a city with a special kind of character and unmatched beauty. This is why it always comes up in ratings as one of the top cities in the UK. And I am convinced that some of this character and charm is due to the abundance of Bath’s independent shops and restaurants. Here are some of my favourites.
Table of Contents
- 1 Abbey Hotel
- 2 Exploring Bath independent shops
- 3 The best independent restaurants in Bath
- 4 When to visit Bath
- 5 How to get to Bath from London
- 6 Like this post? Pin and save for later
Before getting on to the shops and restaurants, I wanted to mention the also independently owned Abbey Hotel, where I stayed during my time in Bath. Built within three Georgian townhouses, this charming boutique hotel is located in the heart of the city, only a couple of minutes’ walk from the famous Pulteney Bridge and Parade Gardens.
Abbey Hotel has been recently refurbished and it is now home to the ArtBar, a bar cum art gallery well known for its curated art collection and its bespoke cocktail menu.
Within the Abbey Hotel you can also find the new brasserie-style restaurant led by renowned chefs Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White. But more on that below.
Address: North Parade, Bath BA1 1LF
Exploring Bath independent shops
Bath Aqua Glass
Bath Aqua Glass is not only a beautiful shop but it’s also a glass blowing studio. It’s an independent glass production company that specialises in stained glass and glass blowing. All their pieces are made in the studio and you can even have a go at blowing your own bauble.
There are two shops in town, but I would recommend visiting the studio which is 10 minutes walk from the centre. Here you can visit their Theatre of Glass, where you can enjoy a demonstration of how they blow and shape the glass.
Address: 14 Cheap Street, Bath BA1 1NA; and 105-107 Walcot Street, Bath BA1 5BW (Studio)
Graham & Green
If you are a fan of unique home deco, then Graham & Green will have you jumping for joy. This super stylish shop has furniture and decorative items that you will not find anywhere else. From eccentric British pieces of furniture to vibrant Mexicana prints, and nature-inspired cushions, you will want to buy everything here!
Run by the same family for over 40 years, Graham & Green’s passion for travelling and exploring is evident in the eclectic pieces they sell in their shop.
Address: 92 Walcott Street, Bath BA1 5BG
Grace and Ted
Grace and Ted is one of the most unique shops in Bath. It’s a small boutique that specialises in the resale of pre-owned designer clothing, shoes and accessories for both men and women. It is run by a mother and daughter team together with their two pooches, Charlie and Fred – although I missed out on meeting them while I was there.
If you love designer labels and vintage clothes without the price tag, this shop is for you!
Address: 10 Kingsmead Square, Bath BA1 2AB
V V Rouleaux
This haberdashery shop and workshop is a colourful ribbon heaven! This is a destination shop for anyone who enjoys crafts, designing and making things, and for anyone looking for inspiration and a bit of colour in their life. They stock over 5,000 luxury ribbons, tassels, feathers, braids and other trimmings that you can think of. If you are looking for a particular shade of a particular colour, chances are they have it. They have a collection of over 100 colours!
They also offer headdress workshops, which I got to try. I never thought I was a handicraft-type person, but I discovered that I am a lot more patient making things than I thought I would be and I loved it!
Address: 9 Edgar Buildings, George Street, Bath BA1 2EE
Topping & Company Booksellers
This is a shop for all books and bookshop lovers. The joy of walking through the door of this small but vibrant independent bookshop cannot be described in words. But I’m going to try. The feeling of being hugged by books as soon as you step inside Topping & Company Booksellers is undeniable. The symmetry of the book shelves, together with the bookshop ladders on both sides, and the colourful display of the book spines are beautifully appealing and they straight away invite you to browse. But it’s not just the visuals that make this shop special.
It is run by a team of passionate booksellers that will have a complementary cup of coffee or tea ready for you while you browse. And all this is complemented with the Georgian baby blue shop front, which is the first thing you see. Plus it’s dog friendly! What’s not to like?
Address: The Paragon, Bath BA1 5LS
Ok, now for something pretty special. If you are looking for unique shoes with bags of character this has to be one of the best shops in Bath for that. This is the shop of international shoe designer Chantal Pilon, said to be the next big thing in shoe design. She trained at the prestigious Cordwainers College (same college as Jimmy Choo) and has worked with Clarks and Kenneth Cole.
Chantal’s shoes are a dream. They are stunning and original, and they are made in a small family run factory in Portugal with the best quality leather.
Address: 9 Milsom Place, Bath BA1 1BZ
The best independent restaurants in Bath
This compact restaurant may be small but it really packs a punch. Located in one of Bath’s oldest buildings, it specialises in vegan cuisine with an innovative angle. Dishes such as cauliflower core glazed in coffee, mushroom parfait and parsnip sorbet will surprise you as well as delight you.
Food waste is big concern for the owners of Acorn, and they address that using ‘vegetable rejects’. One of the dishes I had was made with donkey carrots – carrots that don’t make it to the supermarket’s shelves because they are not pretty or straight enough, so they are normally fed to donkeys. For Acorn, ugly vegetables are the new beautiful.
Their expert sommelier will pair the wine with the different dishes for you. And if you want a piece of vegan heaven at home, they have a book called Plants Taste Better.
Address: 2 North Parade Passage, Bath BA1 1NX
Koffmann & Mr White
Located within the Abbey Hotel, this brasserie-style restaurant is the first joint venture between famous chefs Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White. It serves a mix of English and French classics within a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere. For starters I had a vegetarian Caesar salad and as a main a duck confit in a bed of lentils.
Address: The Abbey Hotel, North Parade, Bath BA1 1LF
The Beckford Bottle Shop
The Beckford Bottle Shop describes itself as a modern wine shop with old fashioned values. This beautiful wine shop cum restaurant stocks a very impressive collection of more than 250 wines from all over the world. Here you can meet friends for a glass (or two) of wine, or for brunch in a very relaxed atmosphere. They also have a great selection of craft beers, ciders and other spirits.
We had a number of small plates in the tapas style, starting with British charcuterie and cheeses and ending with beautifully cooked skate wing, pork putties, courgette fritters and bocconcini salad.
Address: 5-8 Saville Row, Bath BA1 2QP
Le Vignoble is an independent wine lounge with an offer of over 250 different wines, champagnes and liqueurs from all over the world. I loved their approach to wine. The world of wine can feel a bit intimidating, so their ethos is to make it accessible to everyone by removing the snobbery and pretentiousness that sometimes is associated with it. Beside their regular wine list, they have 21 guest wines that change every month. And if you are interested in trying a number of wines, they can provide you with tasting notes so you can create your own tastings.
One of my favourite things about Le Vignoble was their wine dispensing machines, from which you can buy a glass with a top up card. And of course, make sure you accompany your wine with some delicious cured meats and cheeses.
Address: 12-14 Milsom Place, Bath BA1 1BZ
Good Day Café
This cute little café is owned by Steph, a West Country lady passionate about helping people on their day with a delicious cup of coffee. For Steph it’s the little things that make a difference, and you can tell by just looking around this cute café. All I can say is that this place made me smile with its doggie wall of fame and the beautiful furniture.
We got to try colourful beetroot, matcha and charcoal lattes, but these are only available as part of a food tour tasting. It’s a shame they’re not available to have individually… yet.
Address: 12 Upper Borough Walls, Bath BA1 1RH
Ok, this one is not a restaurant per se, but I couldn’t cover independent places to eat in Bath and not mention Swoon. This renowned little business knows how to make proper artisan gelato and it has now become a classic in Bath. They churn it on site and use the finest ingredients they can get their hands on – from Somerset milk to pistachios from Bronte, Sicily. They have eleven flavours that you will always find here, but they also like to play with different combinations and offer monthly seasonal flavours. I tried the monthly combination of blackberry and lavender and it was absolutely scrumptious! They also make delicious gelato cakes. Yes… gelato cake! I’ll leave you with that thought.
When to visit Bath
Bath is great any time of the year. It’s one of those cities that looks fantastic in any type of weather. And I really mean it. The warm tones of the sandstone on the buildings and roads really come into their own in the rain.
But the one thing I would say is that Bath is very popular at weekends, so I would encourage you to visit during the week. You’ll have the city to yourself. Ok, you’ll have to share it with the locals. Also, I recommend staying overnight if you can to get the most out of this magnificent city. A day trip to Bath is certainly good, but you’ll get a lot more out of it if you spend a couple of days here. There are plenty of things to see, do and independent shops to shop in!
How to get to Bath from London
The easiest and most comfortable way to get to Bath from London is by high-speed train with Great Western Railway. Trains depart from London Euston station several times a day and they only take 90 minutes.
Have you ever been to Bath? Would you ever visit a destination because of its independent shops?
Let me know in the comments!
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Disclosure: A big thank you to Visit Bath who hosted me on this trip. As always, all views are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission but come at no extra cost to you. This helps with the costs of running my blog so I can keep my content free for you. Thanks as always for your support!