24-hours in Beautiful Bath
‘Broad Street is one of those streets where you’ll find everything you need for a party,’ says Ann-Marie James, director of Rossiters of Bath, ‘Fashion, food, makeup – there’s even a tattoo parlour if the moment takes you…’ I’m in Bath for 24-hours to suss out the best bits and write this TNMA city guide. It’s a whistle-stop trip but as I know Bath quite well already, I’ve managed to shoehorn-in a guided tour of this independent department store (like a cross between Liberty and ABC Homes in New York). There are a number of streets like this in Bath, full of unique retailers and interesting finds, ‘People come and have a lovely time,’ continues James, ‘and then go back with something original that can’t be Googled.’
True. Bath is a gorgeous, grown-up place to shop with lots of creative independent stores, as well as most of the major high street names and COS coming soon. It’s a city that feels more like a village and is particularly lovely in the sunshine when the Georgian limestone buildings give off a glorious, golden glow.
Here’s my 24-hour guide:
Colonna & Smalls is my go-to coffee shop and I head straight there off the train. But as Ann-Marie James points out,’ Bath is awash with really good coffee shops, there are some very good baristas – it’s hard to give your undivided loyalty to any one.’ The Fine Cheese shop (also a good place for lunch) and the Society Café are on my list for next time.
Whenever I’m in Bath, I visit Grace & Mabel, for a great edit of mid-range labels, including: Baum und Pferdgarten, Chie Mihara and Custommade. Staying on Broad Street there’s a Winser London concession in the basement of Rossisters, a fantastic magazine shop called Magalleria – then carry on up onto High Street for one of Britain’s loveliest independent booksellers Topping & Company, where you can relax, have a cuppa and buy a new book.
For lunch, I always head to Café Lucca serving Mediterranean-style paninis, salads, coffee and wine. This very fine establishment is light and spacious and part of The Loft; another great grown-up place to shop. The Loft/Lucca lifestyle store on Bartlett Street has a great selection of fashion (Fabiana Filippi, 120% Lino, Rains, Lilith) and interiors and is close to a couple of antique shops, small galleries and Toast, rude not to…
Grace & Ted on Kingsmead Square is a designer resale shop where I snaffle the By Malene Birger coat (above) and nearly add a vintage Gucci shoulder bag to the mix. Then it’s over to Anthropologie and Cutler & Gross (sunglasses research) before heading to Maze on Green Street, another small independent worth a look-in. Milsom Place is the, er, place to go for True Grace candles and lovely shoes from family-run company Seven Boot Lane.
A quick stroll around the park and up to the Royal Crescent and The Circus before dropping into Circo bar & lounge for evening drinks and then it’s back to the Queensberry Hotel for dinner (all local produce, absolutely delicious). And an overnight stay in possibly the best room I’ve ever slept in, plus a fabulous en suite.
The Queensberry is in a lovely higgledy-piggledy Georgian town house just a few minutes walk from the Fashion Museum Bath. Day two begins with a Lace in Fashion exhibition and A History of Fashion in 100 Objects. I love the ‘dressing up’ area with replica Georgian/Victorian dresses and bonnets to try and take the opportunity to go a bit ‘Downton Abbey’. There wasn’t time to visit the American Museum in Britain (currently showing the 1920s Jazz Age exhibition) but I’ve been on a previous trip to marvel at the collection of wonderful quilts.
Not long left till I have to catch the train but I want to head up Walcot Street and London Road to have a look at the interiors shops. This area has become a bit of a ‘design district’ over the last couple of years and I usually make time for a wander. There are also a couple of decent charity shops and the pile-it-high, second-hand shop where I bought The Beast (a vintage 1960s faux fur coat), on a previous visit.
Start at Shannon for Scandi furniture and fabrics (bought a length of Marrimekko material here once for a tablecloth), then on up to London Road for Pencil Tree and Mebyl selling vintage/salvaged/reclaimed furniture, and the Old Bank Antiques Centre next to Verve Living. The Small Shop has one of the best window displays, ever; a straight out of World of Interiors, carefully curated arrangement of fossils, skulls, antiques and taxidermy. And I’d nip across the road to the ace King William pub for lunch if there was time but sadly have to whizz past on the way to the train station. There’s so much to do in Bath, I need to go back again for another visit. Fortunately, it’s only 90-minutes on the train from London.
This post is sponsored by Visit Bath. Other places to shop include Nicholas Wylde jewellery, One Two Five Gallery and Jolly’s department store.