Friday, 23 October 2015

The Best Independent Shops to Visit In Bath

In almost every city centre in the UK there are a few shops that you can expect to find. Most cities have their own branch of Boots, Marks and Spencer, WHSmith and Waterstones. On a similar note when it comes to eating out you don’t have to travel far to find a pizza hut, and it’s been shown that wherever you are on the UK mainland, you’re never further away than 85 miles from a McDonalds. But one reason we love being in Bath is the fact that our city has so many great independent alternatives. When you need a good coffee or you want to go clothes shopping there’s no need to be limited to the same old chain stores. After all, visiting a new city is all about new experiences. These are just a few of our suggestions.

When you want something to read:
Toppings bookshop regularly hosts signings, talks and events with various prominent authors; but our favourite has to be Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights. It’s tucked away down a side street and is one of the only bookshops we know of that has a Reading Spa with coffee, cake, and bibliotherapists (like a personal shopper, only helping you choose the best books rather than clothes).

Having said that, if you’re a fan of clothes shopping:
Hampstead Bazaar on Pulteney Bridge is a favourite of the likes of Dame Judi Dench. They specialise in elegant flowing designs that flatter just about every woman who puts one on. Another recommendation is Channi B; an independent boutique shop on the ground floor of Milsom Place (a shopping area just off from Milsom Street). They sell unique clothes and accessories, and their shoes in particular are stunning statement pieces that you won’t find on the highstreet.

If you’re in need of a stationers:
Woods stocks everything from inlaid fountain pens to Filofaxes to iPad accessories, and they have been a feature in Bath for over 200 years. The other place to go, especially for art puzzles and the most beautiful advent calendars, is Maythers card shop.

Looking for a good old-fashioned pint:
The Raven on Queen Street has a wide range of local beers and real ales. It’s a family-run pub in a pair of conjoined Georgian townhouses with plenty of atmosphere and happily no loud music, TVs or arcade machines. Every second Monday they also host a scientific debate. Worlds away from a commercially driven chain-pub.

Keen to see a film:
While you could visit the Odeon, which has all of the latest releases, there are few cinemas we like more than The Little Theatre. This is a small (as the name suggests) and intimate cinema still set out as they used to be in yester-year; with tiered padded seats, balconies and a ticket seller on the door in a ticket booth.

When you’re looking for a great pizza:
Bath does have a Pizza Express but our recommendation is to try either the Ponte Vecchio, which is only a five minutes stroll from Dukes Hotel and has amazing views as it is right next the weir. Or for modern and atmospheric, try The Stable on Kingsmead Square.

We hope Dukes Hotel can welcome you for an explorative visit in Bath soon!

Visit Bath for A Week of Heritage in October

To coincide with the schools half term, special exhibitions, talks and workshops will be going on across Bath from Saturday October 24th to Sunday November 1st, all as part of a heritage week of events. While there are many activities aimed specifically at children and families (making masks at Victoria Art Gallery or attending a storytelling session at No.1 Royal Crescent for example), there are also several special events going on that are not-to-be-missed for visitors of all ages. Especially anyone interested in history!

Welcome to the Mayor’s Parlour is an exhibition that will be running everyday for the Heritage Week from 11:00am-4:00pm. On display will be eight hundred years of history, including the City’s Royal Charters, gold, silver and sword. Located within Bath’s Guildhall, the Mayor’s Parlour is in itself quite impressive to visit; decked out in a decadent Victorian style with vast crystal chandeliers.

Wreck Mail: Letters from the Deep is a collection of letters which were carried aboard ships but lost at sea due to enemy fire in WW1. From 11:00am-5:00pm each day visitors to the Bath Postal Museum will have the opportunity to read some of this correspondence that was never delivered. Each piece has it’s own story and the story of the vessel it was being carried on. These include military vessels sunk by torpedoes to civilian ships that were scuttled by the enemy. As well as this special display the Bath Postal Museum details the history of the post right back to 2000BC and Ancient Egypt, through the birth of the Royal Mail and up to modern times. It’s rather appropriate that this museum should be in Bath as Bath is where the first penny black stamp was sent from in 1840.

Next on our list is a single day event at The American Museum in Britain – a unique museum dedicated to American life and history that can be found next to Bath University’s Widcombe campus. On Tuesday 27th October there will be a falconry demonstration going on in its impressive grounds (which have stunning views over the surrounding countryside). From 12:30pm-1:00pm and 2:30pm-3:00pm leading falconer Ray Prior will be flying owls, hawks, eagles and falcons and talking to visitors about the birds.

Finally, what kind of Heritage Week would it be if there wasn’t a big event being hosted at the Roman Baths? On Friday 30th October the Baths will be lit by blazing torches and open late from 6:00pm-8:00pm, allowing guests the opportunity to explore the Baths in a new romantic evening atmosphere. At the same time there will be the Great Roman Feast: an opportunity to try some traditional Roman dishes, as well as sampling the famous mineral waters should you wish to.

There are many other events going on throughout the week, but these are just a few of our picks. More details and the full Heritage Week programme can be found at: We hope all of us at Dukes Hotel in Bath can welcome you to stay soon!

It’s The Little Things That Make A Stay in Bath

At Dukes Hotel we know that it's the little details that can make all the difference to a stay in Bath. Whether this is just the right amount of milk in your morning tea, a room with a view, or having an egg that's just the right mix of soft and hard boiled for breakfast; these are the details that make all the difference. So this got us thinking recently about all the small things around the city that we might not always notice. And with this is mind we decided to write a post on some of the often-overlooked gems to look out for during a stay in Bath.

Bath is lucky to be the only city in Britain to have been given UNESCO world heritage site status. It was awarded this honour, among other things, for its Georgian architecture and grand Roman Baths. What fewer people know is that to commemorate this achievement Bath installed the UNESCO symbol in the floor outside of the Pump Rooms; just at the junction between Bath Street and Stall Street.

One primary example of Bath's grand Georgian architecture is the Circus. Completed in 1768 by John Wood the Younger (following plans laid out by his Father) this impressive circle of townhouses has stone statues of acorns lining it’s roofs. But since they're quite high up the acorns are not always noticed, and if they are then their significance is often unknown.

The reason John Wood included them was as a reference to the story of how Bath became a city. In around 850BC the future King Bladud was working as a swineherd, having been cast out of court for being a leper. The pigs he was looking after also had leprosy. At least they did until they played in some hot springs while they were hunting for acorns. The pigs came out muddy but cured of the disease. Bladud saw this, also went into the waters and his leprosy was also cured. He founded the city of Bath on the site in gratitude.  

Another impressive feature of Bath has to be Bath Abbey. At one hundred and fifty meters tall it’s not easy to miss. What is easier to miss though are the holes in the ceiling, but we promise you they are in fact there. Each one is about the size of a two-pound coin and they were put there deliberately to make it easier for the bell ringers. The ringers could put their eyes to the holes and see during weddings and the like when the happy couple was making their way back down the aisle. This was their cue to start the bells.  

Bath has plenty of secrets to reveal if you know where to look, and we’d like to think that Dukes Hotel might be one of them. Come and stay in Bath at our Georgian gem of a Bath guesthouse and let us help you discover the city’s hidden stories.