Bath is one of the UK’s most beautiful cities to explore, famed for its glorious Georgian architecture and the ancient Roman spa after which it is named. But it is not just the historic that makes Bath so appealing.
Photography by Tayla Nebesky for Maze.
Nestled in the Somerset hills, this remarkable city is home to a thriving mix of independent boutiques and individual shopkeepers – design-minded folk whose modern aesthetic sits in harmony with the historic surroundings.
Most Bath guides will focus on the city’s famous landmarks – and while you should definitely make a point of visiting the Roman Baths and the Royal Crescent, it is the thriving cultural scene that makes a trip especially worthwhile now.
As you might imagine from a tourist town, there’s no shortage of places serving refreshments but those in the know will be found at Landrace Bakery on Walcot Street where art historian turned cheese buyer turned master baker, Andrew Lowkes and his team are on hand to help you refuel with cinnamon buns and coffee. There is even a little restaurant upstairs with an ever-changing daily menu, for those who need a more leisurely pit stop.
Another favourite is Colonna and Smalls, a hallowed ground for specialist coffee. Dedicated to showcasing the most exceptional blends, this is the space where you can chat with knowledgeable staff about the offerings and enjoy coffee so perfectly executed that it justifiably lures legions of devotees from around the globe.
Once caffeinated, it's time for a spot of shopping. Head past the picturesque Queen’s Square to Green Street where a newly opened butcher’s shop from the team behind Walcot House will stop you in your tracks. Uber stylish and filled with the tantalising aroma of rotisserie chicken, this is next level business. Which brings us to our very own Maze Green Street store, where our signature menswear and womenswear offer is on show across two floors.
If you’d rather a more cerebral kind of retail therapy, then Topping & Company should be next on your list. Newly relocated in a building at the heart of the city on York Street, it is filled with oiled wood floors, globe lights and rolling library ladders. While away the hours and enjoy a free cup of tea or coffee while you peruse the shelves.
If you prefer a periodical to a paperback, then stroll to Ma Galleria on Upper Borough Walls – a specialist print emporium where you can discover obscure magazines from around the world. Run by Daniel McCabe – formerly an antique book dealer – this store has selection of printed matter that is hard to resist.
Around the corner on Union Passage, Bontanica Studio is a plant-obsessed shop that is well worth a visit. A veritable jungle of greenery with species to fit any space or budget, this shop and studio often hosts pops ups from the Happy Donut Bakery, an award-winning bakery that specialises in handmade vegan donuts. You can thank us later but be prepared to queue!
After a spot of shopping, some lunch is in order. Looking for something to grab on the go? The Fine Cheese Company awaits you with over 100 British artisan cheeses to choose from and beautifully thin savoury shortbreads scented with herbs. For a more leisurely experience, grab a seat at Walcot House. This deceptively cavernous space in a former bakery serves simple, wholesome dishes and seasonal small plates. Carefully styled, with open brickwork, leather banquets and greenery a-plenty, this is spacious spot is an ideal space to relax and refuel.
For those who prefer a more gastronomic experience, a short stroll uphill will take you to the honey- stoned passageway that is Saville Row and the delights of the Beckford Bottle Shop. An offshoot of the Beckford Group, which owns four country pubs in Wiltshire and Somerset, this heavenly hideaway is a wine merchant and bistro serving small plates delectable wines.
After a couple of glasses of red and a few platters of charcuterie, it’s time to take in some art. Bath’s contemporary Francis Gallery has a well-deserved reputation for its thoughtful presentation of abstract art amidst the classical setting of its surroundings. Occupying the ground floor of a heritage-listed Georgian townhouse, the gallery eschews the white cube synonymous with contemporary art in favour of a domestic set up that shows people how to live with their art. Rooms throughout the gallery are arranged much like living spaces, with artworks, antiques and ceramics acting as decoration. Founded by the creative due behind Cereal magazine, the gallery’s pared-back, muted aesthetic provides the backdrop to future heirlooms.
Take a short walk over to Brock Street to marvel in the delights of another gallery – 8 Holland Street – established by interior designer Tobais Vernon. Named after its London outpost, 8 Holland Street is a constant source of inspiration, a cornucopia of antiques complete with a rentable, curated apartment in which to immerse yourself in the 8 Holland Street aesthetic.
Around the corner on Margaret’s Buildings, you’ll find our favourite spot in Bath –the singularly individual Berdoulat – a three-story gourmet emporium stocked with luxury groceries, wine and homewares. Created by interior designer Patrick Williams and his wife Neri, this triumph of a store is an absolute labour of love and a must-see for anyone interested in interiors and restoration. Filled with spices, wine and cookbooks, the shop showcases Berdoulat’s own furniture alongside a café operated by Frome’s Rye Bakery and fresh flowers from local florist Sula Jones of Nice Bunch. An eclectic roster of talks, workshops and music events may just keep you on in to the evening.
Before the day is done, take a stroll around the nearby Circus and Royal Crescent, the brainchild of John Wood, master architect and genius town planner. There may no shortage of beautiful spots for a walk in this city, but these two are some of the most magnificent. Those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle should consider the Skyline Walk, which envelops the city in a six-mile loop and offers expansive views of Bath and the hills beyond – the perfect way to reflect on a day in the this beautiful city with the feel of a village.