The Student’s Guide to Getting the Most out of Bath
If you’re a student who has just started at either one of Bath’s two universities, you’re in for a treat. This beautiful city has a whole lot going for it – from fantastic nightlife to some hidden gems – it’s sophisticated, stylish and tons of fun. So, while you’re wrapping your head around your timetable, getting to know your housemates and managing your student budget, here’s what you need to know if you want to get the most out of a city that’s always going to have a special place in your heart…
The notion that students want to do nothing but get drunk is a tired old cliche. But, it’s certainly true that we like to get dressed up, have a good time and dance the night away. The good news is that Bath is a small city, with pretty much everything in walking distance. And, it’s been voted the second safest city in the whole world, which means your mum can relax a little when she’s imagining you stumbling around after a few too many vodkas…
So, where should you go? Well, the first thing to realise is that Bath’s nightclubs are underground to prevent noise pollution. So look for the queues of people waiting to descend the stairs into them if you want to see where the best places are. Popular student haunts include Second Bridge, Po Nana (buy a £3 loyalty card for student discounts), Komedia (they play soul, funk and motown music on a Saturday night), and Moles (excellent for live music – artists including Ed Sheeran, Oasis and The Cure have played here, and it is cheapest for students on a Tuesday night).
Food & Drink
Even a student’s budget can stretch to a meal out every so often – and everyone needs a decent coffee shop too, right? Here’s a selection of Bath’s best…
Colonna and Small’s Speciality Coffee – currently number one on TripAdvisor, and ranked within the top ten coffee shops in the UK. The staff really know their coffee (so it’s the perfect place to get into it, if it’s not something you love yet), they offer free internet, and the brownies are every bit as gooey as you’re hoping.
The Green Rocket – perfect for vegans, this place serves excellent coffee and even better food. If you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the thought that’s gone into the menu.
Mokoko Coffee – excellent if you want great taste and service without spending a fortune. Two homemade portions of cake wills set you back a fiver, and the staff are so friendly you’ll be glad to keep coming back here time after time.
Sotto Sotto – you can’t go wrong with a proper Italian, and that’s exactly what this restaurant is. Located downstairs in a cellar, this restaurant is all about exposed brick and flickering candlelight – so it’s the perfect place for a date or a special birthday meal with your housemates.
Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen – this restaurant is absolutely fantastic if you’re looking for a dinner that tastes incredible and is nutritious too. They serve creative, imaginative dishes at a reasonable price, and it’s so well-regarded that even non-vegetarians and vegans rave about it. Perhaps save it for a special occasion as it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s certainly worth every penny.
Chai Walla – if a cheap eat is top of your list of priorities, give this Indian takeaway a try. The food is fantastic (so you’re not skimping on quality at all), and while the venue is tiny, the portions are far more than big enough. They only accept cash so remember to get some out before you visit.
Now that you know where to eat and drink, read up on what you need to get around to experiencing in Bath. As well as a wide array of comedy, live music and other kinds of entertainment (here’s what’s on in Bath if you want to see it broken down month by month), there are some permanent features you don’t want to miss:
The historical stuff
Royal Crescent – Ok, so this one isn’t exactly a hidden gem, but can you even say you go to the university in Bath if you haven’t seen the Royal Crescent for yourself? Sure, it’s the kind of place that’s most likely to appeal to architecture or history students, but anyone can appreciate how beautiful this sweeping parade of Georgian buildings is. Snap a selfie outside it, or consider taking your grandparents here when they pay you a visit.
Roman Baths – handsome, mystical and totally mesmerising, visiting the Roman Baths is an absolute must while you’re at university here. Admittance is free, with a University of Bath library card, so you’ve no reason not to pay it a visit. Consider booking onto one of the limited tours that take you beneath the Baths if you fancy finding out more – these meandering tunnels are fascinating and it’s quite satisfying to walk around at street level again with an insider’s knowledge of what lies beneath your feet.
Bath Abbey – Bath Abbey has been standing for more than 1,000 years (and simply standing at its honey coloured walls will leave you wondering how on earth they managed to build it), and it’s worth exploring if you fancy a bit of peace and quiet after a crazy term of parties, lectures and change. You’ll be asked for a small donation, but students are only normally asked to pay £1.
Walks & Exploring
Whether you’re walking off a hangover, mulling over a difficult essay title or feeling a little bit of homesick, some fresh air is always a good idea. Bath is perfect for this, with plenty of beautiful places to explore. Make sure you walk the Bath Skyline – it’s a six mile walk that offers incredible views of the city, and doubles up as a great running route if you want a challenge. Warleigh Weir is a nice spot too (it’s at the bottom of the hill past the Cats and Dogs home) and you’ll notice some other students BBQing here in the summer.
Sydney Pleasure Garden was a favourite haunt of Jane Austen’s, so consider taking your English Lit date here for a romantic stroll. And if you fancy a walk with a bit more going on? Head to Widcombe Parade – across Halfpenny Bridge, this alternative to the high street is packed full of shops and cafes to nosey round.
Bath is a pretty cosmopolitan city, so there are more than enough places to blow your student loan in. Shop at the Saturday farmers’ market for well-priced fruit and veg, and spend some time exploring Baths’ independent shops and boutiques. For high street names and brands, visit Southgate shopping centre – and remember to take your NUS card everywhere you go as a lot of retailers, restaurants and cinemas offer discounts to students that you’d be crazy to miss.
The Theatre Royal & Komedia
Theatre doesn’t have to be expensive, and when you’re a student it’s even cheaper… just wait for the Theatre Royal’s standby tickets for performances on the day: tickets go for just £6, and you can often buy a standing ticket for £4. If it’s comedy you’re after, make a point of calling into Komedia on a Monday night – you can buy a ticket to see Bath and Bristol’s best aspiring comedians for £2.
If you’re into fashion, you could easily spend many an afternoon moseying round Bath’s Fashion Museum. It’s home to a world-class collection of contemporary and historic outfits, and you can get free entry to it by signing up for a Discovery Card. You can get the card by being a resident of Bath and North East Somerset, saving you £18.50 a visit.
Finally, you might wondering how to get round to see of all this. Well, as mentioned above, most of Bath is easily walkable, so you can expect to access a lot of it on foot. But, if your university halls or private residence is a bit further out of town, you might want to take the bus. Bath University’s U1 bath runs every 6 minutes during term time, and Bath Spa’s U5 and U6 buses runs every 15 minutes during term time too. First offers a 24 hour bus in term time, running from the city centre to Bath University, so you’ll have no trouble getting home after a night out.
So, do you think you’re ready to explore what your new favourite city has to offer? Lap it up: the Independent once said that Bath is the best city for students in the UK, so don’t leave a single stone unturned during your uni years here.