As staycationers flock to the coast this summer, take the opportunity to explore the South West’s most popular city-break destination while it takes a breather from international tourists. From underground Champagne bars to foraged food, here are a few of our favourite places to eat, sleep and drink in Bath
Where to sleep
Bath has the monopoly on boutique townhouse hotels and The Queensberry Hotel, located a stone’s throw from The Circus and Bath Assembly Rooms, provides the quintessential honey-coloured-stone backdrop. Each of its 29 bedrooms has been uniquely designed to feel like you’re staying in the guest room of a super-chic friend – albeit one who has a Michelin-starred chef in the basement (more on that later).
Also delivering the interiors-mag aesthetic is No.15 Great Pulteney in Bathwick on the River Avon’s eastern bank. The restaurant, bar and 37 bespoke bedrooms look like they’ve been lifted straight out of a glossy spread, yet there’s a home-from- home vibe thanks to the bring-the-kids ethos and pooches-welcome policy.
Just down the road and cementing Bathwick’s status as the city’s most exclusive neighbourhood is The Bird. If you’re planning a let-your-hair- down weekend tour of Bath’s speciality cocktail bars, this fun-loving hotel is the place to stay. Splash out on the Feature Room with private terrace and alfresco hot tub for a pre-party bubble sesh.
Envisaging a more traditional take on luxury for your Bath staycation? The Royal Crescent Hotel offers timeless glamour in a historic setting. The hotel, which features an acre of glorious gardens and a high-spec spa, is one of the only iconic landmark buildings in the world in which you can spend the night.
Where to eat
Olive Tree Restaurant head chef Chris Cleghorn earned a much-anticipated Michelin star for Bath in 2018 (and has retained it ever since), making the restaurant in the basement of The Queensberry Hotel one of the hottest dining spots in the city. There are few better ways to spend a couple of hours than working your way through one of Chris’ unforgettable tasting menus (choose between six and nine courses) matched with picks from the seriously good wine cellar.
There’s Michelin pedigree behind one of Bath’s newest restaurants too, as The Elder founder Mike Robinson counts The Hardwood Arms (London’s only Michelin-starred pub) among his portfolio of dining destinations. Together with head chef Gavin Edney, Mike is passionate about sustainability and bringing ‘wild food’ to this urban setting. Sample dishes such as Bathurst Estate fallow deer with red cabbage puree, heritage beetroot, dirty mash and sauce grand veneur, then have a peek behind the scenes via a guided tour of the butchery and wine cellar. (Read our review of The Elder here)
Bath has long been a mecca for plant-based diners who travel from far and wide to eat Richard Buckley’s innovative cooking at Acorn (the first vegan restaurant to get a nod from the Michelin Guide). The original concept matured into Oak Restaurant in 2020, and is now a more informal neighbourhood restaurant and grocer which focuses on sustainable dining and natural wine.
Much to the joy of her followers, Noya Pawlyn turned her popular supper club into a bricks-and-mortar cafe in 2017 when she moved into a beautiful Grade II-listed building. The communal feasting continues at Noya’s Kitchen‘s Friday-night supper clubs at the St James’ Parade venue, but if you can’t secure a spot (they’re super popular) you can try Noya’s flavour-packed Vietnamese dishes at lunchtimes from Tuesday to Saturday.
Where to drink
There’s no better place to toast your Bath staycation than Comptoir + Cuisine‘s below-ground wine bar: the George Street venue has over 50 Champagnes available by the glass or bottle. Pair your pick of the wine list with a baked truffled camembert or sharing fondue with potatoes, charcuterie and bread.
For next-level cocktails, book a table at Dark Horse on Kingsmead Square. The seductively mysterious basement venue was included in Imbibe‘s top three UK bars and has featured in multiple world rankings. Founder Louis Lewis-Smith uses locally sourced ingredients to create complex and innovative cocktails which dazzle and delight.
If wine’s more your thing, schedule a trip to Beckford Bottle Shop on Saville Row. It has a sister bistro next door, but you can also tuck in to seasonal dishes and cheeseboards in the shop while trying a range of delicious drops. The huge custom-made sofa, squirrelled away at the back of the shop, is a great spot to hunker down for an evening.
A quality coffee will almost certainly be needed the next morning and thankfully Bath isn’t short of speciality cafes. Society Cafe has a pair of outposts in the city centre, serving expertly roasted Origin coffee. See also Mokoko Coffee at Abbey Yard for own-roasted brews and homemade bakes.
Where to shop
If you don’t believe a cardamom bun could be worth sacrificing your Bath staycation lie in for then you obviously haven’t been to Landrace Bakery. The Walcot Street bakery and shop is turning out some of the best loaves and pastries for miles so be prepared to join the queue from 9am on weekends.
Another great shout for bread-based joys is Thoughtful Bakery on Barton Street. Polished patisserie share counter space with glossy croissants, signature sourdough and cheesecake-filled cruffins.
For a different kind of sugar hit, Swoon on Kingsmead Square delivers decadently creamy Italian-style gelato. Look out for its signature black and gold shopfront, then choose from must-try flavours such as Amarena cherry cheesecake and salted caramel.
Weather good? Pick up a bottle of something delicious from Wolf Wine for an impromptu picnic. The little wooden cabin at Green Park Station is packed with small-production wines from artisan makers around the world. Fortify your alfresco lunch with delicious bites from Chandos Deli on George Street.
Like our Bath staycation guide? Check out our pick of South West city breaks.