Shopping in Bath
Bath boasts more independently owned shops per head of population than most other cities in the UK. The high proportion of small, family-run shops means that the shopping experience in Bath is different from that offered by towns where big chains are dominant. It is the sheer variety and quality of shopping on offer that acts as a magnet to this historic town.
Walcot Street has been the artisans' centre of Bath since Roman days; it is here that a true Bath jewel can be found, in the shape of hand-blown glass experts the Bath Aqua Theatre of Glass, 105-107 Walcot Street. The Fine Cheese Co, 29-31 Walcot Street, is dairy heaven – and their huge stock of delicious handmade cheeses is accompanied by a fine range of fruits, pickles and chocolates.
Bath’s Artisan Quarter also extends to London Street, with colourful offerings including Indian textiles shop Zeitgeist.
You can watch fresh chocolates being hand-crafted in The House of Minerva chocolate shop, 14 Cheap Street, and be sure to try their divine hot chocolate. Also on Cheap Street, December 25th is a quirky year-round Christmas shop with sidelines in Easter and Valentine’s Day goods.
For established names in close proximity, head to Milsom Place: you’ll find top-end shops such as Cath Kidston and Ted Baker here, and the accompanying bars and restaurants such as Jamie’s Italian aren't half bad either.
Pulteney Bridge is only one of two bridges in Europe that are lined with shops (Ponte Vecchio in Florence being its more famous cousin). Find a scattering of small specialist shops and a good variety of restaurants serving Italian, Thai, Indian and French cuisine in nearby streets.
Bath Flea Market takes place on Walcot Street every Saturday, while Bath Farmers Market is held on the same day at Green Park Station. The producers themselves sell a wide variety of local produce, all from within 65km (40 miles) of Bath.
The Guildhall Market, found on the east side of the High Street, is one of Bath’s oldest shopping areas, and is very much alive today with an eclectic range of wares, from local cheeses to fancy dress.
During the festive season, Bath Christmas Market (late November to mid-December) between Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths is a glittering haven of stalls packed with interesting treats and presents.
Of course, the high-street chains are present in Bath as well, particularly around Stall Street, Union Street and Milsom Street.
The majority of Bath’s shops are open seven days a week, all year round, and opening hours are typically 0900 till at least 1730 – some shops are open until much later. On Sundays, shop opening hours in Bath are typically shorter than during the week, but nearly all shops open for some part of the day.
Non-EU residents can reclaim the VAT (Value Added Tax) on purchases from stores operating the VAT Retail Export Scheme; tourist shops are usually part of this, but you should check before making your purchases. You must present the receipt and a completed VAT form to a customs officer when leaving the EU. See www.global-blue.com or www.hmrc.gov.uk for further information.