A guide to Bath's best kept secrets

Hidden hotels, divine dining and plenty of new and exciting things to do, this Somerset city is full of secret spots to uncover...

5 mins

While there are always queues outside the Roman Baths and the Thermae Spa in beautiful Bath’s city centre, there are some things that are kept a little more under wraps. Here, we take a look at some of Bath’s secret things to see and do, with a selection of stunning hidden hotels and incredible restaurants. 

Best secret things to do in Bath

Pulteney Bridge (Visit Bath)

Pulteney Bridge (Visit Bath)

The maze on the river walk

Walk over Pulteney Bridge and when you get to the end you’ll find a little winding stone staircase spiralling down towards the river. Don’t be side-stepped by the signs for the Thai Restaurant, as this is also the way to the river walk. Enjoy a relaxing stroll alongside the water’s edge, and also take time to discover the Beazer Garden Maze. Set in the grass itself, this is a stone maze pathway that leads to a mosaic dome in the centre. Make the effort to complete the maze, or you can cheat and skip straight to the central dome.

The Guildhall Markets

Opposite the Pulteney Bride is the Guildhall Market, the oldest indoor shopping venue in Bath. Although The Guildhall is an impressive building, you might not be prepared for just how good the market stalls are once inside. There’s a cheese stall where a Frenchman will advise you on the most delectable cheeses, and a tea specialist with large tea chests behind the counter. You'll also find leather goods, a hairdresser, the market café, and a stall selling beautiful Turkish lamps, to name a few.

Bath Abbey (Shutterstock)

Bath Abbey (Shutterstock)

The Abbey Tower Tour

Bath Abbey is open to the public for free, but if you book onto the Tower Tour, you get to see the secret rooms hidden from everyone else. The tour takes you up a series of narrow, winding stone staircases where you can admire carved-in graffiti from the seventeenth century. You’ll visit the bell ringing room, sit behind the clock face, and also climb the 212 steps of Bath Abbey Tower to the highest point in the city, where you can take in the incredible views. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and will answer any questions you have about the abbey and its tower.  

Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein

Newly opened in summer 2021, Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein won’t be a secret for long. The attraction is a tour through the life of Mary Shelley and her ground-breaking book, Frankenstein. Each room tells a story, whether that’s the loss and grief Mary suffered, her childhood, her marriage, or her world famous character, The Creature. At the top of the house is a small movie theatre showing an old silent Frankenstein film. And don’t miss a trip down into the basement, if your nerves can stand it!

Best secret places to eat in Bath

Interior of the Elder Restaurant, Bath (Elder Restaurant)

Interior of the Elder Restaurant, Bath (Elder Restaurant)

The Elder Restaurant 

Tucked away on South Parade, The Elder’s façade is so quiet, you might not even realise there is a restaurant there. But the tall Georgian building that houses The Elder is a place of pilgrimage for food lovers, and you only have to dine here once to find out why. The warm bullshot tea with crusty bread that arrives before you begin your meal is a calling card for the dishes to come. Truly incredible food.

Café Au Lait

Across the road from the train station and the large food court featuring all the usual suspect names, is a small unassuming café on Dorchester Street. Cafe Au Lait has a stripped back and cosy interior, much like the menu, which offers simple but affective food. The all-day brunch can also be ordered veggie and vegan, and the pancakes are a must.

Best secret places to stay in Bath

The Bird in Bath (The Bird)

The Bird in Bath (The Bird)

The Bird

Just a short walk from the city centre on Pulteney Road is the The Bird, a quirky hotel with distinctive and individual rooms. The staff here are friendly and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. Here, you'll also find the Plate restaurant. Expect an especially good wine list and a menu made up of nibbles, small and big plates, and sides, perfect for grazing.

Hotel Indigo

On the same Georgian parade as The Elder Restaurant, Hotel Indigo maintains many of the original Georgian features. The rooms range in size from standard to suite, and are themed on the subjects of literature, gambling, and other secret and taboo activities the Georgians in Bath liked to indulge in. Much like The Elder, this boutique hotel is truly a hidden gem.

Aerial views of Homewood Hotel, Bath (Homewood Hotel)

Aerial views of Homewood Hotel, Bath (Homewood Hotel)

Homewood Hotel & Spa

Out of the city in Freshford is Homewood Hotel and Spa, set amid acres of rolling hills with views to inspire, and not a neighbour in sight. The spa is the main event here, and the outdoor hot tub and swimming pool are perfect for a therapeutic dip, especially out of season in autumn and winter when there are fewer visitors and the air is fresh. Inside the spa is a thermae massage pool, a steam room and sauna, and out on the terrace by the restaurant are a handful of dining pods so you can enjoy an afternoon tea while keeping cosy after your comfortable wild swim.

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