Dip your toe into Bath's varied nightlife, whatever kind of after-dark entertainment whets your whistle.
First off, here’s the good news: most of the bars and clubs are within staggering distance of each other around the top of Milsom/George Street. But here’s the rub: unless you don’t need any elbow space when you’re dancing, you’re going to find the small nightclubs here a bit of a tight and sweaty squeeze.
Bath has a big student population, making places like Revolution - aka Revs - (York Buildings, George Street; +44 (0)1225 336168) popular for pre-club drinks. Despite having cool retro decor, something about the shouting clientele makes me want to claw my own eyes out and I give it a miss to head across the road and down the steps to the teeny stone-clad Sub13 cocktail bar - although you’ll get more for your money at Revs (Edgar Buildings, George Street;+44 (0)1225 466667; www.sub13.net).
My favourite bar, which also doubles as a club later on, is the classy Common Room hidden on Saville Row (take Bartlett Street from George Street to get there). For some reason it’s a ‘members’ club’ but this just means that you have to sign a register to get in. It doesn’t really get going until later on in the evening so head there after 10pm (Saville Row; +44 (0)1225 425 550).
Bar/restaurant Hall & Woodhouse (Old King Street; +44 (0)1225 469259; www.hall-woodhousebath.co.uk) is the latest addition to Bath’s drinking scene – it’s pretty pricey, but the long wooden tables in the renovated auction house are ideal for striking up conversations with strangers.
Nearby Gascoyne Place gastro-pub, opposite the Theatre Royal, is another trendy place to start your night if you can bear the mind-bendingly bad acoustics that the low-ceilings create (Sawclose; +44 (0)1225 445854; www.gascoyneplace.co.uk).
Newly-opened Circo, next door to the Halcyon Hotel on South Parade, is a chilled out option for a cheeky cocktail - it's pretty plush inside with candles and Chesterfields, and they have the best rum selection in Bath (hello aged Havana Club and original Sailor Jerry's) (South Parade; +44 (0)1225 444100).
If the weather is nice try Market on Sawclose (+44 (0) 1225 330009; www.marketbath.com) or The Cork terrace garden (Westgate buildings; +44 (0)1225 333582; http://thecork.co.uk) for some al fresco drinking.
Bath’s not all chink-chink-cheers cocktail bars and gastro pubs. If you’re looking for traditional (what I would call ‘old man’ pubs) head to Saracen Street to the Pig & Fiddle (+44 (0) 1225 460 868; www.thepigandfiddle.co.uk) if it’s warm enough to sit out, or try Bath’s oldest pub The Saracen’s Head (Broad Street, +44 (0)1225 426518).
The Volunteer Rifleman’s Arms (New Bond Street; www.volly.co.uk) is an olde-worlde favourite and The Salamander (John Street; +44 (0)1225 428889; www.bathales.com/pubs/salamander.html) is the best place to try the local tipple Bath Ales – Gem is my favourite.
The Bell on Walcot Street (+44 (0)1225 460426; www.walcotstreet.com) is an arty-farty haunt for live music and the Porter veggie pub and Cellar Bar back on George Street are great for relaxed pre-club bands or pints (+44 (0)125 4024104; www.theporter.co.uk).
Underneath the Porter is Moles (George Street, +44 (0)1225 404445; www.moles.co.uk), Bath’s most famous club – many huge bands played here when even their roadies didn’t know their names and it’s still a good place to catch live music. The legendary Cheese Night on Tuesdays is a fondue of chart tunes and sweaty students, but is still fun. Purists like myself will tell you that it’s not the same since they put in air-con and an overground entrance, but ignore us because it’s still Bath’s most atmospheric club.
Bath’s other clubs range from live music and open mic nights at St James Wine Vaults (St James Square; +44 (0)1225 310335; www.stjameswinevaults.co.uk) to trendy cocktail swigging at meze bar Opa (North Parade; +44 (0)1225 317 900; http://opabath.com) and a young crowd at Po Na Na (North Parade, +44 (0)1225 424 952; www.bathponana.com).
Laid back night-owls listen to funk and soul at Back to Mine (Bladud Buildings; +44 (0)1225 425677; www.backtomineclub.co.uk) and serious clubbers enjoy chart hits at the Weir Lounge underneath Pulteney Bridge (Spring Gardens Road,; +44 (0)1225 447187; www.weirlounge.co.uk).
You can also find advice on Bath nightlife here: Nightlife in Bath: a cultural guide.
Where to stay
You can see my full list of recommendations here – Bath Hotels – Award winning expert hotel reviews, from cheap to luxury hotels in Bath.