Booked a trip to Bath this summer? With its wealth of independent businesses, from treasure-trove shops to characterful eateries, let the city’s creative spirit inspire you. Stepping away from the popular city sights, there’s plenty to see and do if you’re after a slightly different, yet still memorable, trip to the city.
If arriving into the city at lunchtime, a meal at OAK will set you up for the afternoon ahead. Serving a variety of plant-based plates from their meat-free menu, the innovative independent restaurant has been one of the trailblazers of vegetarian cuisine in Bath since it opened in 2013, originally named Acorn Restaurant.
Bath Aqua Theatre of Glass
After lunch, head to Walcot Street in the city’s Artisan Quarter, just a 10-minute walk from Acorn, for some creative crafting. Bath Aqua Glass is a true Bath institution, having both a workshop – Bath Aqua Theatre of Glass – and city-centre store from which they sell their beautiful aquamarine glass decorations – the colour reminiscent of the city’s spa waters. Watch as skilled glassblowers and stained-glass artists craft striking glassware: you can even have a go at making your own bauble.
Graham & Green
If lusting over glassware has you looking for some interior inspiration, pop across the road from Bath Aqua Glass to Graham & Green, where you’ll find it in abundance. The independent homeware store is a true treasure trove of eclectic finds from across the globe, from design-led lighting to bespoke upholstery, and from opulent mirrors to plush sofas and unique accessories.
Mid-afternoon calls for a sweet treat, and there’s no better place to find one than Swoon, who serve delicious gelato. Having been in Bath, on Kingsmead Square, since the summer of 2017, and with another shop in the heart of Bristol, they’ve brought an authentic taste of Italy to the West Country with an ever-changing menu; the vegan Chocolate Sorbetti and creamy Pistachio being two of their bestsellers.
Grace & Ted
Specialising in the enduring qualities of style, a love of fashion runs deep at this unique family-run boutique, also on Kingsmead Square. With a carefully-chosen stock of pre-owned designer clothing, shoes and accessories for women and men, it’s worth a look – you never know what you might find at Grace & Ted!
With your first day in Bath drawing to a close, make the most of the early evening with a visit to Le Vignoble before dinner. Tucked away in Milsom Place, the concept bar is a wine lover's dream, with the walls lined with specially-selected and frequently changing bottles, from which you can serve yourself from innovative Enomatic dispensers by the taster or glass.
V V Rouleaux
Start your second day in Bath getting inspired at haberdashery V V Rouleaux. Situated on George Street, you won’t miss it – their window displays are often a rainbow of colour and personality, and inside you’ll be met with a wealth of vibrant materials, from ribbons to feathers. Their fun craft workshops will teach you the tips and tricks of the trade, from making festival headdresses to designing quirky fascinators.
Beckford Bottle Shop
If stomachs are rumbling after a morning of creativity, head up to Beckford Bottle Shop on Saville Row. Treat yourself to a bite to eat at the inventive small plates restaurant with over 250 wines, British cheese and charcuterie to choose from. Sink into one of their comfortable armchairs in the downstairs cellar lounge, or perch at a window seat and watch the world go by.
Topping & Company Booksellers
After lunch, take time to browse Topping & Company Booksellers – odds are you’ll want to spend more time in there than you bargained for! The characterful independent bookshop is a haven for bibliophiles, with floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with classic books and new releases in every genre under the sun. The calming ambience is perfect for discovering your next favourite read – they even serve tea and coffee while you browse.
Good Day Cafe
A millennial Instagrammer’s dream, Good Day Cafe on Upper Borough Walls has an eye-catching interior, with dusty pink walls, plenty of succulent plants and a vibrant neon sign – canine companions are always welcome too. For something different, why not try one of their signature beetroot lattes, alongside a freshly-baked cake?
As the last stop on your trip to Bath, indulge in a little more retail therapy. Chanii B in Milsom Place is run by international shoe designer Chantal Pilon, and her expert eye for the next new designs can certainly be seen in her range of beautiful shoes and handbags. Crafted with the finest Portuguese leather, her limited-edition styles are one-of-a-kind.
Find out more about the city's range of smaller, but no less impressive, businesses and ventures – from shops to restaurants and from cafés to markets – at Independent Bath.