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16th July 2019 Rebecca Burns

Nightlife in Bath

Jammed with chic cocktail bars, characterful pubs and vibrant live venues, the nightlife in Bath is just as atmospheric as the city is by day. Many night spots are tucked away in some of the city’s most memorable buildings, with vaulted, underground cellar bars for cosy winter evenings, and leafy beer gardens for balmy summer nights. There are also a couple of larger nightclubs where you can party with a crowd, and venues hosting live comedy and magic shows from skilled acts.

Comedy and theatre

One of Bath’s leading live entertainment venues is Komedia, five times winner of the Chortle Award for Best Venue in the West and Wales. Housed in an immaculately restored Grade 2-listed former Beau Nash cinema, it hosts more than 400 events each year, and is particularly well-known for its two big Saturday night events: the Krater Comedy Club, and Motorcity, Bath’s biggest club night. The venue also presents a superb selection of other live entertainment, including cabaret, gigs, and film screenings.

Alternatively, you can marvel at award-winning magicians on a Saturday night in the intimate surroundings of Krowd Keepers, a tiny 35-seat theatre housed in The Ale House. Creating a unique and captivating experience for its audience, these one-woman or one-man shows usually feature some genuinely impressive close-up tricks and stage effects, and are excellent value (still priced at £10 a head, which you can book in advance through Bath Box Office). Afterwards you can move downstairs to Sleight Bar – popular with stag and hen parties, and other groups – for a few cocktails and some more close-up magic.

At the opposite end of the size spectrum is the spacious, glitzy new Century Casino. This recent addition to Bath’s entertainment scene claims to offer the best collection of casino tables, slot machines and gaming terminals in the whole of the West Country. Spread across three floors, the venue incorporates a luxurious cocktail lounge with a balcony overlooking the newly-developed Saw Close and Theatre Royal, right in the heart of Bath. You need membership to go there, but it is free and straightforward to join with some photo ID.

Marvel at award-winning magicians on a Saturday night in the intimate surroundings of Krowd Keepers, a tiny 35-seat theatre housed in The Ale House

Cocktails

Getting back to cocktails, Sub 13 is possibly Bath’s premier mixologist bar, offering delicious cocktails and some decent two-for-one deals late into the night (it’s open until 12am Monday to Wednesday; 1am on Thursdays; 3am on Fridays and Saturdays and 11pm on Sundays). Sub 13’s late-night club is housed in the vaults beneath the Georgian town house, with subdued lighting and lavish leather booths creating a laid-back ambience. Or head to the sophisticated Perrier-Jouët Champagne Lounge, designed by Shaun Clarkson (known for the OXO tower and the 5th Floor of Harvey Nichols), which features stylish chandeliers and elegant art nouveau-inspired tables. On warmer evenings, sit outdoors for after-work drinks or a summer celebration on the walled outdoor Champagne Terrace.

Relaxed and atmospheric, the Dark Horse Bar has also earned a well-deserved reputation as one of Bath’s finest cocktail bars, so it’s worth booking a table in advance if your heart’s set on going there. With a well-considered play list and lovely décor, the vibe is low-key and the staff are friendly yet professional. They also have an excellent knowledge of cocktails, pay great attention to detail, and champion local, raw ingredients whenever possible to create their extensive menu of cocktails, including some interesting and unusual mixes.

Hideout Bar

Treat yourself to a cocktail or whiskey in Hideout

If whisky is your tipple, The Hideout, hidden away in the historical lanes of Tudor Bath boasts an impressive range of Scottish single malts as well as an eclectic array of international tastes and flavours. Gin-lovers should not miss The Canary Gin Bar, home of the Bath Gin Company, which, as the name suggests, specialises in this particular spirit – with more than 230 varieties to choose from. The Jane Austen-inspired menu features cocktails that celebrate the author’s heroes, heroines and villains, with some intriguing combinations, all of which are prepared and beautifully-presented. The main bar is a great spot if you’re a fan of gin, Austen, or both, while upstairs you’ll find a Martini bar.

Lively Circo Bar and Lounge is equally sophisticated, and has become a popular venue for celebrating parties and other special events, with a tasty food menu if you fancy a bite to eat. The décor is chic, luxurious and beautifully lit, giving the venue a cool, calm atmosphere. If you’re in Bath on a Wednesday check out Circo Cinema – a special night when the building is turned into a movie theatre showcasing various films with a different theme each month.

Getting back to cocktails, Sub 13 is possibly Bath’s premier mixologist bar, offering delicious cocktails and some decent two-for-one deals late into the night

Quirky venues and clubs

Night owls seeking a quirkier night spot could drop into Opium Bar, which is a feast for all the senses. Once again, it is tucked away in the underground vaults of a beautiful building near beautiful Pulteney Bridge. Enter the incense-filled bar and you’ll find an off-beat, stylish interior incorporating period pieces – Victoriana and Bohemian Louis IV right through to the Renaissance – alongside various contemporary items, creating a chic, modern bar with a twist. You can enjoy some classic cocktails as well as modern ‘house’ varieties, Martinis, fine wines, and world beers, then if you get peckish you can order some olives or nuts to enjoy with your drinks. Cocktail lovers are definitely spoilt for choice in Bath, and there are many, many other excellent places to discover if you’re still stable and standing by the time you’ve tried our suggestions.

Bar

Pay a visit to some of Baths new and trendy bars

If you prefer a good glass of wine, Le Vignoble is one of the city’s latest arrivals on the bar scene, inviting customers to taste, discover and enjoy wine without any of the pretentiousness often associated with wine bars. The menu focuses on small producers and unusual wines with a real story behind them.

Bath’s best-known gay and lesbian club is Mandalyns, which has a retro feel and incorporates both a dance floor area and a quieter ‘Snugg’ in the back bar where you can kick back, talk and even play traditional board games. At weekends the club hosts The Party Bar on Saturdays and gets pretty packed out, while Sundays now host Industry Night for people who work or run a business in Bath. It’s open every day except Mondays and Tuesdays, with a popular karaoke student night on Thursdays.

Night owls seeking a quirkier night spot could drop into Opium Bar, which is a feast for all the senses

Live music

Fans of folk music tend to flock to the St James Wine Vaults. This warm and welcoming pub has a great atmosphere and hosts regular open mic nights and live bands, particularly folk and jazz artists, as well as a weekly charity quiz night on Thursdays. They also have a pool table and traditional board games such as backgammon, chess and Jenga to keep customers entertained. Real ale lovers can track down some great live acts and DJs at the Royal Oak, which won the City Pub of the Year 2017 award from Bath & Borders CAMRA. With free entry and reasonably-priced drinks, this is a genuinely independent pub that is both down to earth yet discerning in terms of the drinks it puts on its menu.

Perhaps the most famous of all of Bath’s live music venues is Moles, which over the years has hosted countless big names such as Bastille, Mumford & Sons, Radiohead, Ed Sheeran and The Smiths, alongside fresh local talent. With its long-standing reputation for supporting exciting, up-and-coming local and international bands, it’s well worth checking out what’s on there if you enjoy discovering new artists. In between live gigs, Moles also hosts a good selection of club nights including house and techno; rock, pop, punk and metal; and 80s and 90s floorfillers.

If you’re looking for a traditional, old-fashioned pub in which to sup your pint, the welcoming and co-operatively-owned Bell Inn is a great place to start. This award-winning, historic free house and music venue is perched on the edge of the city centre. It hosts live music, stocks real ales, and is owned by 518 of its customers, fans and workers. You can tuck into wood-fired pizza made on a bicycle every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday; get stuck into a game of bar billiards (Monday to Wednesday); or play chess, backgammon or table football.

Fans of folk music tend to flock to the St James Wine Vaults. This warm and welcoming pub has a great atmosphere and hosts regular open mic nights and live bands

Picture perfect venues

To enjoy a pint in grand surroundings – behind Bath’s oldest façade – head over to The Huntsman. This smart old city centre pub is housed in a striking Grade 2-listed building which was built between 1748 and 1750. Less than half a mile away, The Raven is a top place for a pie and a pint in friendly, old-fashioned environs. Also nearby, you may be able to squeeze into the historic Coeur de Lion, Bath’s smallest pub, for a drink and a classic British pub meal or a rustic baguette.

More classic pub fare is on offer at the Bath Brew House in the heart of the city centre, where you can sup local craft beers, watch sports, or take a tour of the micro brewery. There’s also a beautiful back garden to sit in on a sunny day. This is one of several pubs in Bath that have become firmly established as favourite outdoor drinking spots. These pubs draw big crowds thanks to their lovely beer gardens and terraces.

The Pig & Fiddle is another such pub and sports bar, with an easy central location and beer garden with tables. Inside, it has rustic, wooden décor filled with rowing, football and rugby memorabilia. Equally, The Boater’s lovely riverside garden, next to Pulteney Bridge, is a nice summertime retreat. A favourite amongst beer-lovers, this pub offers several cask ales and draught lagers, plus a great choice of global craft beers, bourbons, vodkas, gins, tequilas, wines, ciders and soft drinks. There are four distinctive bars to choose from, spread over three floors, plus the popular beer garden. And if you fancy something to eat, the chef serves up quality, traditional pub grub with dishes carefully matched to complement the beer selection.

Pulteney Bridge

Enjoy drinks by the riverside and Pulteney Bridge

Alternatively, if you’ve been spending time enjoying Royal Victoria Park on a sunny afternoon, The Hop Pole is an excellent option close to the park with a lovely beer garden and plenty of leafy shade. After a major revamp, Belushi’s bar has returned to Bath’s sports bar scene with a colourful interior that combines the establishment’s passions for both sport and music – with drum sets, symbols and microphones hanging from the ceiling. It now incorporates booths where a group of friends can watch sporting events on their own TV. By having 12 TVs plus a projector and large main screen, the bar manages to appeal to fans of a wide range of sports – showing several different events at the same time on screens spread across the establishment.

Bath is pretty eclectic by night, but it definitely stands out for its smaller, intimate venues – whether that’s elegant cocktail bars, or cool pubs showcasing live music. With a small city centre, you can drop in to try several places without having to run a marathon – so whether you’re looking for a sophisticated night out, or a mellow evening chatting over a pint, you’re in for a real treat.


Everything you need to know about Bath

Where to eat in Bath

The best things to do in Bath

The best shopping in Bath

Your guide to arts and culture in Bath

Image credits: ©Ferla Paolo Photography/The Hideout; Kilyan Sockalingum/Melissa Walker Horn/Unsplash; Santypan/Adobe Stock; Shutterstock.com; Will Joseph Cook/Soulmedia/Moles

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