Meet Ellen, (@_ellenmitchell_), a South West girl at heart she has grown up living between beautiful Bristol and Bath for most of the 23 years of her life. Having graduated from Exeter University in English Literature back in 2019, she has kept to her south-westerly roots moving back to her hometown. This year she landed her self-proclaimed ‘first proper adult job’ at a law firm in the centre of Bath, getting to spend even more time in the city she adores.
We sat down with Ellen to get the scoop on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, where her favourite haunts in Bath city centre lie, and why South West is always best.
What is a typical breakfast and where would you go?
When it comes to places to have breakfast, brunch or grab a quick coffee, you’re spoilt for choice in Bath! If you’re looking for a hearty brunch, you can’t go wrong with Boston Tea Party (there are two of these in Bath), but there are also so many cute, independent cafés that are ideal: some of my favourites are Café au Lait by the train station, the Green Rocket for vegetarian food, or if you’re looking to get your caffeine fix, Colonna & Smalls is an amazing place specialising in coffee – their menu changes weekly depending on the coffee that is in season, so each time is different!
Where is your favourite place to grab lunch?
I’m currently working in the centre of Bath, and have really been taking advantage of my lunch break to discover new places to grab some food. Chapel Arts Café is a great hidden spot for some plant-based food – I’d recommend their flatbreads!
It’s so hard to choose just one, so, other places I would recommend are Chai Walla, which does Indian street food (their onion bhaji wrap is gorgeous), and Mission Burrito for, well, burritos. Another highlight is the numerous street food stalls dotted around the centre that offer some great deals on comfort food – L.J. Hugs is normally based in Southgate, and does Cajun chicken, chilli, wraps and fries, with a massive sauce variety, or there’s JC’s Kitchen, serving up some amazing fresh Filipino street food!
What is an ideal afternoon activity in your city?
It may sound simple but honestly just spending an afternoon strolling around the city (weather permitting obviously) is an ideal activity. An ideal summer afternoon for me would be to wander through the centre to Pulteney Bridge, head up to the crescent and chill on the grass for a bit before heading to a pub for a drink! As a book worm, I also love to visit Toppings, a beautiful independent bookshop, where they often have visiting authors and events that are worth checking out.
It’s also impossible to go to Bath and not hear some form of live music – there are always buskers performing (in some areas you need a permit to busk!). Of course, if you’re looking for a classic tourist experience, there are the famous historical attractions like the Abbey or the Roman Baths to visit – I would also recommend going to the adjoining Pump Rooms for a quintessentially British afternoon tea, complete with live classical music!
Favourite/best place(s) for dinner?
There are restaurants that cater the smallest to the largest of budgets, but here are three of my favourites: The Oven does amazing freshly-baked pizza (my current favourite is the roman artichokes, mixed peppers and mushrooms). Yak Yeti Yak, is a family run Nepalese restaurant hidden in the basement of a Georgian townhouse, has a great authentic atmosphere with traditional low tables and floor cushions. But if you’re looking for an intimate dining experience, I’d recommend Olé Tapas, which is a tiny Spanish tapas bar (emphasis on the tiny – it seats around 20 people in total, so booking in advance is definitely advised) with some of the best Sangria and churros I’ve ever tasted, and there’s often a live band squeezed in!
In the evening what is the city like and where do you usually find yourself?
Bath’s atmosphere tends to change with the season – during summer and around Christmas with the traditional German Christmas markets it becomes a tourist hotspot so can get very busy but no less vibrant! For me, a perfect evening would be seeing a show at the Theatre Royal (top tip: if you phone up after 1pm on the day of a show there are often cheap standby tickets available – most of the time the seats are right up at the top, but once I luckily got ‘upgraded’ to the front row!) and then getting a drink at a cosy gin bar (the Canary Gin Bar is a great one).
In a busy city, is there anywhere to chill?
Bath has an abundance of green spaces to chill in – there’s the famous Royal Crescent, where you can go to relax on the grass with friends and get that perfect Instagram photo of the landmark. Or you can head to the Royal Victoria Park, which is only a short walk from the centre. Originally an arboretum, and still home to beautiful botanic gardens, there is also a mini-golf course and an expansive playground for the kids.
Is there anything fun and different in your city to do/see?
It is definitely worth checking out Bath Abbey, where they run guided Tower Tours of the building, including a chance to get onto the roof for panoramic views of the city. Personally though, one of my favourite finds is the Opium bar – a boutique cocktail bar hidden away in vaults just off Pulteney Bridge. Full of eclectic décor, it feels like both a secret speakeasy and private members’ club built into a cellar, with unique combinations of sofas, armchairs and floor seating (and a secret room for group bookings). Plus, the cocktails are amazing, and they often have cocktail classes!
Where is the best area to stay/sleep for young travellers?
Being the tourist hotspot that it is, there are plenty of hotels in Bath, but for those on a tighter budget, rest assured that there are also a few hostels, such as the YMCA or YHA Bath. There are also lots of beautiful Georgian apartments or townhouses available on Airbnb too.
What season would you recommend to visit?
If you’re wanting more of a traditional tourist experience, then winter is best to experience Bath because that’s when the Christmas markets happen. The city centre is taken over by hundreds of traditional German style wooden stalls, and there are carol singers, carousels and so many glasses of mulled wine! Personally, I love summer too, as it’s the perfect time to wander around and soak in the culture, or experience the Bath Festival.
Is your city best for family holiday/friends holiday/couple holiday?
I would probably say that because of its more relaxed, gentle vibe than other cities, Bath lends itself to an ideal relaxing couple’s weekend city break. Not only can you visit the famous spa for some pampering (and they do couples deals!), you can cover most of the city over a weekend, as it’s small enough to walk around on foot, and is so heavily pedestrianised in the centre that walking is preferred anyway. Saying that, there are still enough attractions and museums to accommodate larger groups or families, including lots of surrounding countryside if you want to explore further!