A Guide to Supporting Independents in Bath

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset
*press trip*

If you've been reading The Owlet for a while you may have noticed that I seriously love Bath. It's got something for just about everyone and it's crammed full of independent shops and people turning their passions into their livelihoods. I love supporting small creators but sometimes it can feel a little daunting knowing where to go and who to support, especially if you're new to the city, so here's my list of everywhere to eat, drink, shop and stay when you're in Bath.

Where To Stay

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset abbey hotel

The Abbey Hotel

The Abbey Hotel is a beautiful boutique guest hotel right in the city centre. Each room is decorated around a different theme, but they're all equally luxurious. Speaking to the hotel manager she told me that a lot of people call the hotel and ask for a specific room that they've seen online because they feel like it matches their personality; I absolutely understand this because I was given the cinematography room which matches me perfectly. The room is beautiful, modern but classic at the same time, and even though you can tell there's a theme it's not overdone so the room is still relaxing. For now that's all I'm going to say about the hotel as I'm planning to do a full review soon.

As well as the stunning bedrooms the hotel is home to an incredible brasserie-style restaurant and a unique bar with it's own theme, but we'll talk about those in a minute.

What to Do

Independent shops and restaurants in bath aqua glass Somerset

Blow Baubles at Bath Aqua Glass

Bath Aqua Glass is one of those shops that I've always wanted to visit but it looks too intimidating. The workshop is squirreled away on a quiet street near the city centre and looks like Aladdin's cave, with a sea of colour from the hundreds of baubles suspended from the ceiling. As well as being able to buy their handmade glass ornaments, you're able to see how it's made in their workshop demonstrations as well as being able to have a go at blowing your own glass bauble. I can't recommend experiencing this enough, it's something I can honestly say I've never done before and it's amazing to see the whole process into an end product that you can say you've helped to make.

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset grace and ted

Uncover a Vintage Treasure at Grace & Ted

Looking from the outside you would probably never know that Grace & Ted exists, but behind the giant blue door is a treasure trove of everything high end vintage or pre-loved. As we walked in my eye was instantly drawn to the Mulberry bag hanging on the wall and I knew this was my kind of shop - everywhere you look there's a different vintage piece that you have to have.

Emma, the owner, is so enthusiastic and there wasn't a single question I could throw at her that she didn't know the answer to. I loved her philosophy of recycling and taking something unloved and turning it into someone else's pride and joy. If you're in Bath and love designer brands then you need to visit, even if you're only window shopping.

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset graham and green

Discover Weird and Wonderful at Graham & Green

Walking into Graham & Green  is dangerous - as soon as you step through the door you will feel you need everything, even if you didn't know it existed before your visit. The store is just down the road from Bath Aqua Glass and sells just about everything you could think of and each item is unique, from a stunning floral dress to a dinosaur lamp and toucan kitchen utensils. You probably will never find anything even remotely similar in other stores so even if you don't need anything I'd recommend a visit. Just walking through the store left me feeling inspired and ready to create. I do need that dinosaur lamp though...

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset vv rouleaux

Make Something Beautiful at VV Rouleaux 

VV Rouleaux is one of those incredible places where you feel like you've made friends for life having been in the store for 10 minutes. The store sells every kind of ribbon, trimming and embellishment you could possibly imagine, as well as creating the most beautiful hat and headdress designs you've ever seen. As if that wasn't enough they also offer workshops that allow you to create your own one-off piece in the most incredible surroundings, either at their studio or in beautiful venues across Bath. Sometimes you meet people and just click, and I felt completely at home and inspired in their shop. We were there as a group and most people created headbands, but as it's not something I would wear they kindly offered for me to choose a comb instead, which I covered in feathers and rose gold sequins (of course! What could be more me?) and it's genuinely something I think I would wear on a formal occasion. Out of everywhere we visited, VV Rouleaux would be the place I most want to go back to and as soon as I next visit Bath you can guarantee I'll be there putting my craft skills to the test!

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset toppings and company booksellers

Get Lost in Toppings Booksellers

Toppings Booksellers is pretty much the closest you can get to Beauty and the Beast's library without leaving the UK. The whole shop has an old-world vibe and as soon as you step through the door you feel as if you've stepped back in time. The owner wanted it to be more than a walk in-walk out book store, and in the centre of the shop is a small cafe, allowing you the chance to get a coffee and get stuck into a book so you don't do the usual "read two pages, go home and decide you hate it". Ask anyone in the shop if they have a book or to recommend something you'd like and they'll come back with an encyclopaedic knowledge of their entire stock, and can usually tell you if their customers liked a certain title. If you've gotten a little sick of being rushed out of book shops and the employees knowing nothing about what's on the shelves then you need to visit Toppings.

Where to Eat & Drink

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset acorn vegetarian kitchen

Try Something new at Acorn Restaurant 

Acorn is an entirely vegan restaurant just round the corner from Bath Abbey. They offer taster menus as well as quick lunches in a setting that's the perfect mix of fine dining and visiting a friend. They're all about local and seasonal produce meaning you get to experience something different whenever you visit. We enjoyed a taster menu with wine pairings and if you're keen to visit I'd definitely recommend taking some time out of your afternoon and opting for the tasting menu because every dish is unique and it gives you a great overview of the whole restaurant's ethos.

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset koffman and mr white's

Head to Dinner at Koffman & Mr. White's

Koffman & Mr. White's brasserie offers a mix of French and British food to represent the two chefs working together. The service started well and the atmosphere is beautiful In concept it sounds incredible, although for me it missed the mark a little. We had waldorf salad to start followed by duck confit with puy lentils - both were equally underwhelming. I personally don't like waldorf salad anyway, but would've considered ordering the duck if we were given the choice. There was nothing actually wrong with the duck but the dish in general was very heavy and the lentils were quite bland so I picked at it but left most of it. Being totally honest I think not enjoying our meal had more to do with the fact that our food was chosen for us and it wasn't to my personal taste, so if you're coming to Bath the Google reviews are mostly positive so I'd say give the restaurant a chance and visit. Personally for me I wouldn't choose to go back because of how they handled allergies - there aren't any gluten free symbols on the menu and when I double checked that what we'd been given was gluten free the waiter went to check and never came back - but if you don't have allergies then I'd give it a go, just for the uniqueness of the restaurant's concept.

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset art bar the abbey hotel

Drink and Doodle at ArtBar

After dinner at Koffman & Mr. White's head to ArtBar inside the hotel, where you can enjoy creative cocktails surrounded by beautiful pieces from local artists. While you're enjoying your drink you can unleash your inner artist on the sketchbooks that are left at each table for you to make the most of while you're there; just be careful you don't have too many drinks before you start drawing, apparently there's been a few occasions where they've had to "censor" the drawings, if you catch my drift....

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset art bar Le Vignoble

Learn Something New at Le Vignoble 

Le Vignoble is probably the least snobby wine bar you will ever visit. The bar offers a huge selection of wines from across the world alongside a limited but great menu with a focus on sourcing quality ingredients. The team are incredibly helpful and even if you have no clue about wine you don't have to worry because they'll happily take you under their wing and talk to you until you find the perfect wine for you. They also offer prepaid cards if you want to come in to use the self-service machines so you can try different wines at your own pace, and if you want to learn more they also offer wine tasting courses.

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset Swoon Gelato

Go Gelato-Tasting at Swoon

Swoon Gelato has recently been taking the South West by storm; with shops in both Bristol and Bath it's fast becoming THE place to visit.  As well as their staple flavours, vegan offerings and plenty of things to choose from if you're gluten free, they mix things up every month by creating new flavours according to the winners of the polls on Facebook. The staff are always friendly and welcoming, and they always encourage you to try a few flavours before you make your choice, which is great if you're indecisive like me!

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset beckford bottle shop

Taste Tapas at Beckford Bottle Shop

Beckford Bottle Shop is one of those rare gems that very few people know about - I know the point of this article is to tell you the best independent places to visit, but I'd really rather keep this one a secret to make sure I can get a table. The restaurant offers a selection of small plates as well as incredible cheeses and charcuterie to compliment their selection of over 250 wines! The restaurant offers the option to sit down and enjoy the atmosphere as well as picking up the perfect wine to take home. The whole team are incredibly knowledgable and couldn't do enough to make sure I wasn't left out with not eating gluten, which is something I constantly experience at other restaurants. In fact, most of the time they were able to tell me off by heart what did and didn't have gluten in it, so I could enjoy my meal rather than wondering if I was going to be ill afterwards.

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset good day cafe

Take Instagrams at Good Day Cafe

Good Day Cafe wins The Owlet award for most instagrammable cafe (not a real thing but it sounds good, right). Honestly the entire reason I was so excited to visit the cafe was because I'd seen just about every South West blogger upload a photo from here - I felt like I knew the pink interiors, dog wall of fame and neon signs inside out before I'd even visited. Being totally honest, this cake wasn't gluten free, but it matched the flowers so well that I had to borrow my friend's food for a picture. However,  I can confirm that their gluten free offering is just as incredible as I've been told the red velvet cake was. The cafe offers a great range of both healthy and not-so-healthy food and drinks, including their unique range of coffees featuring buzzword ingredients like matcha, turmeric and beetroot - I'll fully admit I'm not that health conscious but even I enjoyed them!

Independent shops and restaurants in bath, Somerset good day cafe

Supporting independent makers in Bath is actually very easy, and even though it feels intimidating I found that wherever I went the people I met were always pleased to welcome us in, help me if I needed it and made sure we had a great visit - something that you very rarely get if you visit a chain restaurant or shop. Hopefully if you're visiting Bath soon this has helped encourage you to try visiting somewhere different rather than sticking to the comfort of well-known brands. If you've already visited Bath, let me know if I've missed an absolute must-visit off the list and I'll go back and check it out! Most importantly, enjoy your stay and bring a camera because you will absolutely need it.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
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