Pubs in Bath – The Best Pubs in Bath
The pub is a Great British institution and has existed since the late 17th century when the term ‘public house’ was introduced to differentiate people’s privates homes that were literally opened to the public as alehouses, inns and taverns.
Indeed the concept of opening your own house to act as an inn had just about entirely ended by the 19th century and since then the pub has firmly become a community hub; across the smallest of hamlets and largest of cities all around the country, and, the world.
Samuel Pepys described the pub as “the heart of England” back in his 17th century diaries, and that sentiment definitely still exists today.
Bath's Beautiful Pubs
Bath is perhaps personified by the elegant honey-coloured Georgian architecture that adorns its city centre and looks like it could have been lifted straight from a Jane Austen novel.
A compact city that can be easily explored in whole on foot, the spa waters and ancient Roman baths remain a draw for tourists – you’ll find the only natural thermal hot springs in Britain here that can still be bathed in!
When not stopping to find a new destination to eat or drink, visitors can immerse themselves in the city’s collection of galleries and museums, shop the myriad of independent stores and enjoy year-round festivals, theatre events and gigs.
All Types of Pubs in Bath
The spa city of Bath is rich with history and this includes some of its beautiful pubs! Indeed some of the best pubs in Bath are some of the oldest and there’s something for everyone: from quaint country thatched pubs in the surrounding villages to newer purpose-built bars in the city centre.
From sports bars with friendly serving staff to family pubs with traditional menus and cocktail bars boasting expert mixologists, there’s something for everyone in the Bath pub scene. Whether you’re looking for a quiet drink in a corner with a crossword, a few pints in front of a match or a full party, you’ll find something suitable in the city; so read on for our guide to the best pubs in Bath and a few details on each.
The Best Old Pubs in Bath
Anyone visiting Bath will understand that the city has a vast heritage and its history can still be seen marked on its streets even today firmly into the 21st century.
Frequently described as the most beautiful city in the UK, Bath presents a whole host of opportunities to indulge yourself in the aesthetics and feeling of yesteryear, and lots of the best pubs in Bath can offer exactly this as a result of their age.
The Garrick’s Head
The Garrick’s Head is a city centre pub and thedining room was once the home of 18th century fashion leader and Master of Ceremonies for Bath, Beau Nash. A grand building with stately proportions, its adorned with colourful flowers outside and being situated next to the city’s Theatre Royal always attracts an interesting crowd.
The Garrick’s Head’s house ale can be enjoyed from hand pumps or taken away and is brewed by Danish master brewer Stig Anker Andersen, and is served alongside a whole host of draught ale and cider, a comprehensive wines and spirits list and over 50 whiskies.
The menus are bursting with fresh and seasonal ingredients and puts a contemporary spin on the British pub classics we all love. Most of their suppliers are local and there’s a specific pre-theatre menu for those nipping in before a show next door. Everything is made from scratch; even the ice cream!
Booking is advisable on a weekend or the night of a big theatre show, and seats outside on the terrace do quickly in warmer weather. Whether you’re looking for a quick drink to relax halfway through city exploration and shopping or a full meal, The Garrick’s Head has you covered.
It’s worth noting that the inside areas of the pub are not all wheelchair accessible due to the age and layout of the building, but staff will serve outside all year round.
The Star Inn
The Star Inn is firmly crowned the best pub in Bath by those who adore the simplicity of a quiet drink in a traditional setting: as you’ll find no music, no pool table, no food and no games machine in this building.
Founded in 1759 (or at least, first licensed then!), The Star Inn is one of only two pubs in Bath to make the main listings in the Good Pub Guide and is described by the judges of the rankings as “giving a strong sense of the past. With no machines or music, chat’s the thing here – or perhaps cribbage, dominoes and shove halfpenny”.
Also a brewery tap, The Star Inn boasts the title of the only one in the city and serves the freshest of beers from Abbey Ales Ltd. After grave concerns this historic venue would face closure, Alan Morgan, the brewery’s Managing Director, intervened and ensured the safe future of the pub.
Don’t bypass The Star Inn for one of its grander-looking neighbours: the building is considerably older than most and still retains lots of quirky features from days long gone by. Check out the smaller bar of the two… and sneak a peek at the ledge above the wall panelling, where you’ll still find snuff in tins!
The Old Green Tree
The Old Green Tree is another traditional pub and proves that the best things come in small packages. Just three rooms exist in the pub with old school oak panelling and low ceilings including a comfortable lounge decorated with wartime aircraft pictures and memorabilia through the winter months and local artists’ work through spring and summer.
Half a dozen beers are available through hand pump, a selection of wines available by the glass, a local farm cider on draught and an impressive 26 malt whiskies!
If you’re looking for the local best pub food, Bath’s Old Green Tree is a great place for simple lunchtime pub fare. The menu includes generously portioned doorstop sandwiches, soup, pate, fish and chips, burgers, ploughmans and sausages and mash.
It’s to be noted that the Old Green Tree is not dog friendly and does permit children at any time of the day.
The Ale House
The Ale House is another tiny traditional pub in the city, found on York Street – perfectly located for those travelling in or out of Bath by train from the central station.
As you enter you’ll find a single room with a bar but a downstairs area also opens in the evenings as crowds grow. The basement room is a converted cellar space and remains fairly traditional, so if you’re after real ale or to pay by card, you’ll need to nip upstairs and carry your drinks back down.
The downstairs is not wheelchair accessible and the men’s loos are down a few steps, so those with mobility issues may struggle here.
The Sam Wellers
The Sam Wellers is a fairly new opening in the city but considered a strong contender for best pub food in Bath. Made over by new owners Max Halley and Ethan David, the interior has been entirely revamped with a dark blue colour palette, cast iron tables, traditional pub stools, velvet banquette seating and modern art pieces across the walls.
Punters can bring in takeaway food from local establishments to enjoy with a drink, or you can order from the in-house menu. While not the most varied of food options, those on the menu here are beautifully crafted; including parmos (breaded pork cutlets with bechamel and cheese topping) with veggie options and varied topping choices include Hawaiian-style ham and pineapple, nduja, and chilli and honey.
Rather than haute cuisine, food is sold in paper bags and makes for the ideal accompaniment with a cold pint, or taking it with you across the road to the rugby for a pre-match snack.
The Sam Wellers is the second venue of Max Halley’s parmo restaurant brand but retains its old school pub charm and remains unpretentious.
The pub was revamped and ready to open in summer 2022 and is still gaining popularity amongst locals and visitors alike. The Sam Wellers is less than a five minutes’ walk from Bath Rugby… but a bit quicker when you’re fuelled by their great snacks!
The Raven is another old English pub where visitors can enjoy hearty pies and sausage dishes complemented with a selection of local real ales, ciders and wines. Located bang in the city centre, the staff and customers are as friendly as a family and offer a warm welcome to all. There’s no pretension in this pub and the team take pride in simple, high quality products and service.
The Raven’s history is rich and well-traced, with the first reference to the site being on a map dated 1735.
The Georgians then built cellars at ground level and created streets above them to avoid the hassle of digging. One of the first businesses to move into one of the areas that the building covers today was Charles Wright, ‘Wine Merchant to the Royal Family’, so the alcohol business has been here for many years.
By the 1880s the building was definitely a pub (and spirit vaults) and in 1895 the license changed hands to Fuller’s. It changed hands a few times since and gained its full license in 1955. A full history of the pub can be found on its website.
The Raven remains an independent pub free of brewery ownership. It offers free WiFi, is open to children 14+ and only permits assistance dogs.
The Best Rugby Pubs in Bath
Bath is very much a rugby city, with Bath Rugby going from strength to strength and even playing in the European leagues. As a result, plenty of the best pubs in Bath show rugby rather than football and are frequented by players and fans alike.
Whether you’re looking for a pre- or post- match pub crawl or just a couple of bevs while watching the match on a big screen, Bath’s rugby pubs have you covered.
Bath Brew House
A new contender for the crown of the best pub in Bath, the Bath Brew House has been in place since 2013 and is renowned for its large colourful beer garden full of bright seating, strategically-placed TV screens and outdoor heaters.
A strong contender for the best pub food in Bath, The Brew House’s menu varies for indoor and outdoor areas and includes burgers, steaks and good old fish-and-chips.
The on-site brewery is constantly churning out new beers supervised by Head Brewer Max, with a seasonal variety complementing their two signature cask beers; Emperor and Gladiator.
The Bath Brew House is about half a mile from the Bath Recreation Ground, which is about 10 minutes depending on just how many of their beverages you’ve sampled!
The Saracen’s Head
The Saracen’s Head, run by Greene King, is a family-friendly pub with Sky Sports and BT Sports for plenty of sport spectatorship.
A big beer garden and pool table make this pub popular with all and the traditional pub grub menu offers something for everyone. The Saracen’s Head is fully accessible with disabled facilities and is less than a 5 minutes’ walk from Bath Rugby.
Another brewery pub considered one of the best pubs in Bath is The Boater, run by Fuller’s. Boasting four bars, three dining rooms and the city’s biggest beer garden, this pub looks out over the river next to Pultney Bridge and so offers some spectacular views of the river all year round.
Cask ales and craft beers compete for popularity on the vast drinks menu, and a sandwich menu, a la carte menu, children’s menu and Sunday roast menu offer a myriad of culinary options.
The Boater is situated just 150 yards from Bath Rugby and so makes for the ideal destination to stumble into on your way to or from a match!
The Cork is a music pub in the heart of the city centre with two bars, two vaulted party pod booths, a conservatory area and large al-fresco terrace.
One of the best pubs in Bath to visit for socialising, the interiors are warm and cosy and the screens show live sport year-round. If you’re really in the mood for a party, there are private karaoke pod rooms loaded with TVs and sing-along systems accommodating up to 12 people.
The food menu here is varied with traditional ‘pub grub’ style classic dishes and the drinks list includes real ales, ciders, craft beers, wines, cocktails, whiskies and spirits; all accommodate by Cask Marque. The Cork is less than 10 minutes’ walk from the Bath Recreation Ground.
The Pig and Fiddle
The Pig and Fiddle is an iconic city centre pub recently refurbed with a new look interior. Family friendly and dog friendly, the pub shows regular live sport (primarily rugby, but other sports too), and all-day food.
The food menu is described as ‘piggy twists on pub classics’ and a hearty Sunday roast menu caters for all. Behind the bar sits a myriad of craft beers, cask ales and creative cocktails; and the courtyard beer garden is the perfect place to eat and drink throughout the warmer months.
The Pig and Fiddle’s sister venue is a boutique hotel with 11 rooms also in the city centre and so there’s a great place to stay nearby. The Pig and Fiddle is just over a five minute walk from Bath Rugby.
All Bar One Bath
All Bar One Bath is the city’s branch of this high street cocktail chain but shows live sport year round and is a firm favourite with rugby fans as its less than a five minute walk to the ground!
Open from morning coffee through to weekend cocktails, there’s also beers, ciders and wines on the menu as well as a tapas menu idea for grazing.
Bottomless brunch packages start at £30 per head and this offer has certainly cemented All Bar One’s reputation as one of the venues for the best pub food in Bath!