Sssssh! Not a lot of people know this but… there are some really smashing places in Bath that don’t contain the word “Spa.”
Our in-the-know local team have delved deep and come up with some rare gems and little-known venues for you to find. Just don’t spread the word!
If you love a board game, then this is the place for you..
Pay a small cover charge and play as board games for as long as you want. The staff are hugely helpful and will show you how to play if you pick a game that’s totally obscure. You will find games you have never heard of and can buy them in the café.
Thirsty Meeples is on Gay Street, near the Jane Austen Museum.
Top Tip: Just so you know... Meeples are the counters used in games.
Bath Abbey Tower
We don’t have 39 steps, but we do have 212 of them. At the top of these you will find the ringing chamber, bells and the Bath Abbey Tower clock. Most visitors just see the ground floor, but not many people know you can tromp to the top. It’s certainly worth it for the views - enjoy a birds eye gander at one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.
Top Tip: Don’t try on a Sunday though as it’s closed.
The Museum of Architecture
One of Bath’s hidden gems that has rather an obscure setting, in the Countess of Huntingdon’s chapel at the Paragon in The Vineyards.
It’s a bizarre collection of dolls houses, 3D landscapes of the city and gives a really great insight into the rich architectural history of the city. The full model of Bath shows the amazing layout of Georgian Bath.
Top Tip: Watch out for great photography exhibitions which appear through the year, Tim Beale who leads the MOA is passionate about photography and brings some famous professional and amateur collections into the city.
The Paragon, The Vineyards, BA1 5NA
At the top of Walcot Street you’ll find this curious little shop. it’s authentic with a huge printing press at its core, a smart shop for unusual gifts of pens, inks and wonderful papers.
The owner, Athena, is passionate about inks and the craft of writing and this filters through to her team. Whilst the shop is a real find, try and book ahead into one of the wonderful lettering workshops. If you have an interest in writing, you will love these short sessions.
Top Tip: We saw last year Athena had a stall at the Christmas market for the first time, with excellent gift sets on sale for an unusual present.
Head towards Claverton Down to the wonderful little spot, just over a mile from us. You will find a beautiful woods and pastures, with a woodland play area in a quarry, along with rope swings and other activities.
Search for magical doors in the Long Wood and join the Discovery Trail. You will find some superb views of Bath. The postcode is BA2 7A (Claverton Down Road)
Top Tip: Rainbow woods are part of the Bath Skyline Tour, so if you haven’t time to walk the distance, this is a quick snapshot.
Not just a pastime for when you’re in Cambridge. Enjoy a leisurely punt just a few minutes’ walk from The Bird.
Bath Boating Station is a charming Victorian setting where you can hire punts by the hour (approx..£8.00) and practice your skill on the River Avon. You’ll find the most beautiful stretch of the river to leisurely pass the time away. Bath Boating Station is on Forrester road (01225 312900).
Top Tip: You can also hire small boats and travel up to the lovely Bathampton Village and stop off for a drink or lunch.
Head north of Bath towards Lansdowne and Bath Racecourse (approx. 3 miles) and you will find the extraordinary Beckford Tower.
Built in early 19th century this is one of Beckford’s finest architectural examples. Also known as Lansdown Tower, Beckford built this 120- foot high neo-classical tower close to his home in Lansdown Crescent, and connected this to create a mile-long ride through a series of gardens and landscaped features, leading to the summit of Landown Hill.
There is a beautiful 154 stepped spiral staircase and lovely drawing rooms. It’s in good hands under Bath Preservation Trust and well worth a visit. Open on Saturdays and Sundays, take some cash to get in; a family ticket is under £12.00.
Top Tip: Read about Beckford’s 19th century infamous fall from grace!
Lansdown Road, BA1 9BH
The Little Theatre
If you would like a change from hot dogs and pick n’mix, then make a visit to The Little Theatre. It’s located in the heart of the city and shows both mainstream and arthouse films on two vintage screens.
Going back to 1935, it’s a true British Picture House where initially it featured newsreels every hour. It has great history, reputably built on the city’s catacombs, so perfect for a good horror movie!
Top Tip: You are able to get drinks and snacks including gourmet popcorn in the cinema.
St Michaels Place, BA1 1SG
Mr B’s Emporium
You will find this family run book shop owned by Nick and Juliette tucked away on John Street behind Jollys department store. You can spend hours there; the staff are amazingly helpful and will chat all day about books.
There are lots of interesting rooms to explore and upstairs you will find a comfy armchair and fireplace to browse through your books. It’s charming and interesting and a must for your visit to Bath.
Top Tip: If you’re lucky enough to get a ticket to Glastonbury their pop-up venues are also worth a visit.
14-15 St John Street
We’re aware this might not be the cheeriest place to see on your short break to our city, but there’s something about Smallcombe Cemetery that is worth a visit.
It could be the beautiful location in the valley between Widsombe Hill and Bathwick Hill or the very atmospheric, very old feel once you are there. It feels like somewhere you should sit and think or write poetry.
There are two distinct parts, the Anglican section known as St Mary’s churchyard and the non -conformist named as Smallcome Vale. The churchyard contains four commonwealth war graves from WW1.
Top Tip: Visit on a sunny day, the light is amazing!
6 Widcombe Hill. BA2 6DD
We couldn’t leave without letting you know our favourite secret place for a late-night tipple. The Hideout is located in the centre, but also hard to find, which we like as it makes it more secretive.
The place is tiny, located in a stone-walled nook, yet brimmed full of the most amazing selection of whiskies. There’s also an array of cocktails but stick to the hard stuff ! The team will make you very welcome and happy to chat and serve.
Top Tip: Don’t worry, it’s only a few minutes’ walk from The Bird.
Bath Two Tunnels
For cyclists and walkers a must is Bath Two Tunnels, a fascinating 13 -mile walking or cycling loop. This beautiful tour will take you from The Bird (start at Bath Spa station) , through two tunnels over the Tucking Mill Viaduct and past the Dundas Aqueduct and then along the Kennet and Avon Canal.
The interest point here is that you will pass through the Combe Down Tunnel which is the UK’s longest cycling and walking tunnel which is just over a mile. To walk this 13 mile route we estimate it will take around four hours and on a bike, a reasonable hour or so.
We have maps available at reception, just ask.
Top Tip: Bikes can be hired from Bathbikehire.com a couple of minutes’ walk from The Bird.
This is a local’s place, steeped in history. it’s a great visit with the kids for a swim and picnic when the weather is good. Warleigh Weir is a river structure which has been popular with locals for over 100 years and was originally created in the early 1800’s.
You will find the area in Claverton, less than four miles drive from us, just along the main road towards Frome. To protect the area please take a bag for rubbish and bring it home with you; you pass over private land and we need to ensure this is respected, so this lovely aspect of Bath will continue in the future.
Top Tip: Watch parking nearby, it can get very busy, so head out early.
If you have a dog, then Doghouse in Bradford on Avon is a must do. It’s one of the best pet shops in the UK. Independently owned by Ruth Warren it includes a pet shop, grooming parlour and café all located in the stunning town of Bradford on Avon.
There’s a fantastic selection of toys, treats and foods. There are great cakes, ice cream for your dog and the coffee is good.
Top Tip: The Weaving Shed just around the corner is a lovely place to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Doghouse can be found in Lamb Yard, Bradford on Avon, BA15 1FG