Bath – City of Culture?

Latest posts by Mitch Cole (see all)

Fearful of straying too far from anywhere familiar, I was “brave” enough to move from Bristol to Bath for university. I know, just call me King of the Southwest. Regardless of my cowardice, I was pretty excited to experience a new city. I had never moved away before, and so I would be spending three years of my life getting to know another place, meeting new people and hopefully falling in love with a new ‘home’. I’m here today to rid Bath of the stigmas attached to it, and to show you it’s not just a place for curious tourists, angry pensioners and flocks of pigeons.

Before even moving to the city, I was struggling to digest a spectrum of negatives from friends and colleagues – “Bath is so dull”, “Nothing ever happens there, it’s for old people” and “Why would you move there from Bristol?”. To be frank, I hadn’t really given it much thought, I just knew that I didn’t want to commute to uni every day, and Bath Spa was one of the best around for my course. Either way, I packed up and made my way to the tiny town, ready to embrace my university experience. As you may know from my earlier pieces, I hated university, but that is not at all down to the town; in fact, Bath is probably the major reason I stuck it out. Here’s why:

Let’s start as we mean to go on – with a cliché. The city’s architecture is second to none, it’s something you simply cannot escape. The intricacy of the archaic buildings paired with their traditional feel is astounding. It’s no wonder that so many tourists spend their days photographing every corner of the city. The Bath stone houses are beautiful and plentiful, cramming thousands of occupants into the quaint centre. Even the newest addition, SouthGate shopping centre, is a modern masterpiece – a renewed and rejuvenated approach to architecture in Bath. What would this piece be if I didn’t mention the inevitable though; the Abbey, Pump Rooms and Bath Spa itself.

bathhouse

Graduating in the Abbey has to be my personal Bath highlight. The grand hall is open for Christmas choir singalongs, weddings, other ceremonies or to just explore, and I would wholeheartedly recommend you take up one of these opportunities. It is wonderful. I was also fortunate enough to go for high tea in the Pump Rooms, another lovely experience. Getting all dressed up, having a walk around the courtyard, and sitting down to a classically trained pianist was lovely, albeit very overwhelming. Whilst dishing out £8 on sandwiches smaller than my fist was cruel, I openly loved every second of my time there. I was foolish enough to move back home before actually visiting the Roman Baths, but you’ll have heard all about them I’m sure – if not, well, they’re lovely.

pumproom bath

It isn’t just about the buildings and subtle snobbery of the city that draws so many people in. Victoria Park and the Royal Crescent are beautiful in the summer, housing groups of families and students alike, all indulging in their sunny fun. The weir attracts hundreds of people to the overlooking cafés and restaurants, all keen to spy on the beautiful water feature (and, of course, seasonal wildlife).

bath-weir

There’s a positive shopping experience to be had in Bath also, with big names and chains dominating most of the high street, whilst boutiques and independent shops are often hidden away, delightful little gems waiting to be found by curious customers. There’s no Primark in sight, but wish lashings of Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, Banana Republic and M&S, there’s a real sense of class. The sheer amount of pubs is frankly overwhelming and you’ll be spoilt for choice: whether you want to head to a chain for some fail safe food and a Stella or try a local ale at a privately run bar, you won’t be disappointed.

Addressing this issue surrounding boredom and pensioners in Bath, I was fortunate enough to work in a club during my time in the city, and gained a feel for the student lifestyle. Bath houses about 7 “real” clubs but, as mentioned before, hundreds of pubs and bars which also offer live music and late licenses. Across the week, you will find all of your needs catered for, whether that be by Po Na Na’s “Discord” metal night on a Wednesday or Second Bridge’s £500 giveaway at “The Bomb” every Thursday. Komedia offers live entertainment and club nights. Alternatively, Moles‘ jaded history as a brothel and reputable live venue means it rallies in customers by the hundreds to see live acts such as Ed Sheeran, Gabrielle Aplin and even Radiohead (seriously though guys, go to Moles). If you’re worried that Bath is missing out on the hollow trend of lassooing in reality “stars” to host club nights, fret not! They’ve got that down to a tee with some of the mutants from MIC and TOWIE polluting the air with their egos. For a “boring” city, Bath really is pulling out all of the stops to ensure students have a memorable experience.

bath pub raven

I don’t want you to sit here and fall in and out of love with Bath in 5 minutes – go and explore it for yourself. It’s easy to get to, makes a great day/weekend trip, and has something for everyone. Whether you’re going for the shopping, clubbing or culture, you won’t be disappointed. A word of warning, though. Don’t presume that you’ll be walking on streets of gold, finding people using £20 notes to wipe their noses with. The outskirts of Bath are full of wealth whilst the centre isn’t a far cry from your own – you’ll still find bird shit everywhere, too many Starbucks’ and that one guy on the streets that drinks piss from a Dr Pepper bottle. But John Cleese turned on our Christmas lights, so who cares?