Travel 3 minutes 05 December 2023

Where To Stay & Eat In Bath This Christmas

Explore Bath's Christmas markets and discover the best hotels and restaurants with The MICHELIN Guide

Christmas Destinations Editor's Pick

The historic city of Bath is, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful places in Britain. Its fine Georgian architecture, striking cathedral and renowned Roman Baths make it a popular tourist destination all year round. Christmas, however, feels like an extra special time to visit. Cities like Bath and the similarly attractive York have a distinct prettiness that blends perfectly with falling snow and the magic of the season. It helps, too, that Bath has a range of Christmas markets ideal for those looking for interesting festive gifts.

The markets are spread across the city centre, with many located in the shadows of the city’s gorgeous buildings and historic monuments – like Bath Abbey, whose earliest origins date all the way back to the 7th century. For the real foodies amongst you, there’s an array of delicious produce on sale, including artisan spirits, locally made wine and more sweet treats than any hungry shopper can handle. That’s not to mention the more substantial offering at food stalls covering everything from pancakes to pasta.

On a busy shopping trip like this, you will surely be in need of a luxury hotel and some high quality cooking to keep you refreshed. Luckily for you, Bath is home to three Michelin-recommended hotels that also house a MICHELIN Guide restaurant.

The Old Q Bar at The Queensberry Hotel
The Old Q Bar at The Queensberry Hotel

We begin with The Queensberry Hotel, whose restaurant, The Olive Tree, holds the city’s only Michelin Star. The hotel itself is contained within four Georgian townhouses, which are something of a staple here in beautiful Bath. The Queensberry’s a hugely characterful place, but the décor never feels like the designers are trying too hard, nor does it tip into twee preciousness. The owners have left most of the house’s natural quirks intact too, making for some distinctive architectural details. Once you’re all settled in your room, the traditionally British Old Q Bar is ideal for a pre-dinner drink.

After your early evening tipple, it’s time for a Michelin Star experience. Having undergone a soft refurbishment in 2022, the restaurant sports a blend of country house and subtly Nordic décor. Although The Olive Tree is located in the hotel’s basement, it’s a bright, light space that sets the stage nicely for Chef Chris Cleghorn’s wonderful cooking. What appear to be simple dishes are elevated by exceptional ingredients, well-honed techniques and great depth of flavour. The delightful service team make the experience that extra bit more special, too.

The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa
The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

The Queensberry may be in a terrific location, but The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa matches it with ease, nestled among Bath’s famous collection of 18th century houses of the same name. Arranged in a 500ft arc, they are a textbook specimen of Georgian architecture and one of the city’s major landmarks. The hotel lives up to its surroundings, adopting some contemporary styling mixed with antique touches. Rooms are as comfortable as can be, and the airy, light-filled spa is a must for those needing some relaxation after a tiring day of present buying.

For dinner, you need only walk across the hotel’s extensive garden to Montagu’s Mews – a smart, brightly decorated restaurant in the building’s former carriage houses. It’s named after Elizabeth Montagu, a writer and women’s education advocate who once lived here. Today, it serves dishes with a self-proclaimed focus on ‘quality, simplicity and clean execution’, with seasonal produce from the surrounding area to the fore. Despite the British base to the cooking, there's also the odd Japanese influence on the menu – such as shokupan for the bread course – and the well-crafted dishes are never overworked.

Bath Priory
Bath Priory

Slightly further out of the city – but still within reach of the Christmas markets – is Bath Priory, where the hotel and restaurant share the same name. The former is spread across two adjoining houses, also from the Georgian period – and the more grandiose touches include an outdoor pool, an intimate spa and 4 acres of formal gardens. While you’re not far from the city, there’s a distinct country house feel to the décor, from the antiques to the oil paintings, while the old blends with the new in the bedrooms, which are nothing short of luxurious.

For dinner, you again have the option of staying within the hotel grounds. The elegant Bath Priory restaurant is the home of modern cooking that focuses on seasonal produce and complementary combinations. Dishes can be somewhat minimalist in their makeup, but that doesn’t stop them from delivering plenty of flavour thanks to the quality of the ingredients and careful execution. It may be too cold for the terrace during your Christmas visit, but do come back in the summer to make the most of such a delightful space.

Beckford Bottle Shop
Beckford Bottle Shop

If you’re looking for further dining options in Bath – perhaps you’re visiting for multiple nights, or just fancy venturing outside your hotel – there are a number of other fabulous restaurants to discover. Among them is Oak, a recipient of the Michelin Green Star for its commitment to sustainable gastronomy. The team here put responsible farming first, using produce from their garden in flavoursome vegan and vegetarian dishes. For budget-friendly dining, seek out one of Bath’s two Bib Gourmand awarded restaurants: the characterful wine bar and bistro that is the Beckford Bottle Shop, or popular pub The Chequers – both provide great value for money.

Other hotels in Bath that have the seal of approval from The MICHELIN Guide’s experts are: the fashionable No. 15 by GuestHouse, which has a playful element to its design; The Gainsborough Bath Spa, built atop a forgotten Roman-era bath in a former 19th century hospital; and Hotel Indigo Bath, which merges historic architecture with modern luxury.

Whatever combination of hotels and restaurants you choose, we’re sure you’ll have a magical visit to this marvellous city.

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