‘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:

Day One

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.

Day Two

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.

Fashion Museum Bath

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.


32 thoughts on “24-hours in Beautiful Bath

  1. You should also visit Christopher Barry and Kimberly, husband and wife run His and Hers couture fashion shops who have very carefully curated collections from Italy and France… probably the best outside of London. They have been in Bath for around 30 years and really deserve a mention for their excellent advice, taste and a fantastic customer service experience!!!

  2. My sister and I were in Bath for four wonderful days in 2015 and we totally fell in love with the place. There is not a bad thing I can say about it.

    We were touring the UK for my 50th, we are from Australia and this gorgeous town would be in my top 3.

  3. As a local in Bath, I would also recommend Alexandra May on Brock Street….the most amazing selection of costume jewellery. Although best avoided just after pay day as it is easy to get carried away!

  4. I was born and raised in Bath and left in my late teens. My husband is also from there and is part of the Crisp Cowley family one of the oldest established estate agents in Bath. Although I live in Hampton court now (another beautiful place) I visit family in Bath on a regular basis and love to wander the streets and alleys, visiting old haunts and discovering new hidden gems round every corner. Always a delight!

  5. Also don’t forget Bath has a lovely Theatre, the Theatre Royal – when I lived in Somerset we used to see plays there before they even opened in London!

  6. I fell in love with Bath last year! I had read about the coffee shop you referenced in your post as the UK Barista of the Year worked there. We went and met a wonderful local architect, who gave us a history of Bath. Wonderful!

  7. Just wanted to thank you Alyson for telling me about your hairdresser, Guy at Amwell St. I had a lovely afternoon there yesterday, felt listened to, looked after and came away with a brilliant cut and clever colour. I also had time to read your book pretty much cover to cover while I was there (they have your signed copy).

  8. Oh, how I miss Bath! The beauty of mid-Wales has its consolations but I whizz back to Bath as often as possible. My perfect day is a very early start, a trog round the shops, including the book shops (Toppings – fabulous – but do try Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in John Street behind Jolly’s department store – three floors of heaven, coffee, deep armchairs and knowledgeable staff), then lunch at the Olive Tree (in the Queensbury Hotel), a matinee at the Theatre Royal – a Georgian architectural delight – then another quick flash round any shops still open, then home to enjoy books and other purchases.

    The Holborne Museum and the Victoria Art Gallery often have small, uncrowded, carefully curated exhibitions too.

    Superb coat, Alyson! One of these days I too will do leopard print…………

  9. I’m lucky enough to live in Bristol, just down the road from Bath. I love visiting – it’s always an uplifting experience and even though I go regularly it never loses it’s charm. Loft is my favourite place, I love their coffee shop and browsing the fashion (which sadly I can’t afford, but love looking!)
    Great post!

  10. Sorry, should say its charm, not it’s charm – that guy in Bristol who goes round correcting apostrophe mistakes will be on to me!

  11. As a Londoner I try to visit Bath once a year. I first went about 30 years’ ago and was hooked. I totally fell in love with everything about Bath and need an annual ‘fix’ to soothe my soul. The restaurants, coffee shops, shopping experience, architecture, history, museums and people are so lovely you don’t actually need to ‘take the waters’ to feel all fuzzy around the edges! Jolly’s is a ‘proper’ department store where the staff are all wonderful – last year the Jaeger concession was mesmerising (ahh, a post about Jaeger please…. sob!). The Jigsaw shop is in the most amazing post office building, the market is to die for and I virtually have to be dragged back to London. Just this post has got me itching for a return visit.

  12. My husband’s from Bath so we go a couple of times a month. I like Found on Argyle Street – a cool little independent shop on the Pulteney Bridge. The Art Bar at the Abbey Hotel is a favourite for a drink and the new Gainsborough Hotel is gorgeous (I wasn’t that impressed with the restaurant but I did like the bar). I didn’t know about the Winser in Rossiters, so thanks for that tip!

  13. Ah, Bath, beautiful Bath. I almost can’t bear to read this post, I want to be there so badly. I grew up in a village about an hour from Bath. I haven’t lived in the UK for over 40 yrs now, but whenever I’m over I never miss a visit to the city, one of my old school friends has a beautiful house there. I will make a list of those places you mentioned, Alyson, as quite a few were new to me, for my next visit. Thank you !

  14. Made my first visit there in February (girl’s only weekend with my sister) and, like you, stayed at the Queensbury. Amazing hotel and would definitely recommend. When shopping would also recommend Ted and Muffy for shoes (helped by the fact that they had a great sale on) and ended up buying a pair of silver leather brogues.

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