The Surprising UK Foodie Destination You’re Probably Overlooking

Savour seaweed pizza dough in the oldest house in Bath.

best things to do bath
Photo: Natasha Bazika

My initial journey to Bath was fueled by literary inspiration, drawn from the hallowed pages of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and the timeless prose of Jane Austen.

Armed with their verses and iambic pentameter, I eagerly anticipated stepping foot into the historic city, where the Roman Baths, Pulteney Bridge, and the Abbey I had read about would be. However, amidst these iconic landmarks, a delightful surprise awaited, unravelling an unexpected twist in my tale — Bath’s culinary realm.

My culinary expectations for Bath were tempered. Its gastronomic reputation was not yet mainstream, which is a missed opportunity if you ask me. Yet, my trip to Bath revealed an unanticipated haven for discerning food enthusiasts, offering a contemporary gastronomic experience that surpassed all expectations.

Within the age-old sandstone buildings are world-class restaurants, hidden gin bars and pizzerias boasting unconventional menus. Bath’s culinary landscape is a tapestry of delightful surprises, and I have just the guide to help you savour the remarkable fusion of tradition and innovation that defines this unexpected epicurean paradise.

Bath Food Heroes Tour

Navigating Bath is best done with a tour guide, whether it’s an audio tour of the Roman Baths or a guided food tour by a local. I entrusted Savouring Bath to guide me through the city’s culinary heritage on a “Food Heroes” tour. I won’t spoil the stops because the tour guides love to see guests’ reactions first-hand, but I can give you a taste of what to expect, at least on the “Food Heroes” tour.

During the 3.5-hour tour, I encountered legendary local specialties, including a bun in one of Bath’s first houses and innovative culinary pioneers driving the current food scene, from cheesemongers to an Australian breakfast staple in a pocket-sized corner store.

best things to do bath
Photo: The Elder

The Elder

The last place I’d expect to find any concept of multi-course fine dining is Bath, but there I was, eating my words at The Elder. Helmed by esteemed restaurateur Mike Robinson, renowned as the United Kingdom’s foremost authority on wild food and game, The Elder is where the boundaries between the kitchen and the wilderness blur. The dining experience is a profound celebration of the land’s offerings, an ode to the seasons that unfold, and a testament to the extraordinary possibilities that arise when sustainability and culinary excellence intertwine.

The tasting menu is a must. Although it changes seasonally, my dinner encompassed a range of local vegetables, delicate savoury tarts, meaty game main, and of course, a light dessert to finish. There was even an amuse-bouche of warm broth to drink.


Stumble down a cobblestone lane in the heart of the city, and you will find Dough. There are actually two locations, one in The Corridor and one in Kingsmead Square. Either one serves traditional Italian cuisine and pizza with a twist. The twist being the base. You can order a seaweed base dough. Actually, you can order 12 bases. Yes, 12. They love to play around with bases, not only for dietary requirements but also for something different. You can get turmeric, hemp, grano arso, chocolate, and plenty more dough varieties.

Just pick your pizza topping, from the Mediterranean to Napoletana and choose a base. I recommend the seaweed base. It’s different but tastes incredible.

The Scallop Shell

Looking for the best fish and chips in Bath? Venture to The Scallop Shell. Again, a recurring theme of casual dining spaces dominates here, with colourful distressed furnishings in a wood-dominated structure. Grab a seat upstairs or settle in downstairs by the open kitchen. The menu boasts a range of local seafood dishes, but they’re best known for their fish and chips.

The fish is plump and fried to a golden crisp, served with equally as crunchy chips and a spoonful of homemade tartare. There’s also a little ramekin of mushy peas because it’s the UK.

The Coconut Tree on Broad Street

Fancy some Sri Lankan fare in Bath? The Coconut Tree on Broad Street is driven by a fervent desire to introduce the distinct flavours of Sri Lanka to the global stage. Nestled within a laid-back ambience reminiscent of an island getaway, this vibrant establishment entertains diners with an eclectic selection of tunes daily.

best things to do bath
Photo: ArtBar

ArtBar at Abbey Hotel

Hiding inside the Abbey Hotel is a swanky cocktail bar by the name of ArtBar. Walk through the grand sandstone building entrance and make your way to the back of the building to find a wall of bottles, art, and bright colours. Pull up a stool and peruse the cocktail menu or get cosy in a lounge with a bottle of wine and good company.

The Bath Distillery

Another cosy place to drink in Bath is the Bath Distillery Gin Bar, a dimly street-level bar. The cocktails here are the definition of craft. Inspired by literary heroes, local ingredients, and local lore, you will find a long list of cocktails centred around Bath Gin. If you’re not feeling a cocktail, you can choose a gin and flavour pairing, and the mixologists will work their magic. If you’re a lover of gin and all think G&T, this bar is a must-visit.

best things to do bath
Photo: The Dark Horse

The Dark Horse

Formerly a local’s secret, The Dark Horse can only be described as a bijou drinking den surrounded by artwork, antique furniture, and world-class cocktails. Did I mention the owner’s friend creates the artwork? It’s as quirky a basement bar as you’ll get.

Sub 13

Every city has its nightclub. In Bath, that nightclub is Sub 13. The stylish cellar bar has a courtyard space to take in those balmy afternoons and a ground-floor cocktail bar, and a basement club for all your dancing needs.

The Hideout

I’ve covered gin and cocktails, but I haven’t mentioned whisky. When it comes to the golden libation, The Hideout is the place to go. This upscale haunt is the purveyor of fine whisky. Make your way down the historical lanes of Tudor Bath and step into this true hole in the wall that was once a haven for outlaws.

best things to do bath

Other Things to Do

Bath Insider Tours

Apart from the copious amounts of good food and drink consumed on this trip, I also explored between meals. One such tour I took is the Bath Insider Tour, a self-guided walking tour of Bath’s picturesque side, away from the bustling city tour. The tour managed through the app includes GPS tracking, which is how I want to do all my walking tours from now. Pop in some earphones, and enjoy the soothing sounds of a digital guide to help you trace the steps of a bygone era. Marvel at the iconic Pulteney Bridge and wander along Bath’s longest boulevard. Traverse the enchanting Sydney Gardens and relish a scenic promenade along the historic Kennet and Avon Canal. This captivating tour spans approximately 90 minutes and is the best tour in Bath.

The Roman Baths

Visit one of the best-preserved Romain remains in the world, The Roman Baths. Meander through ancient chambers and well-preserved ruins and take in the grandeur of this ancient social complex. An audio tour is the best way to uncover fascinating stories and immerse yourself in the rich heritage of this iconic attraction.

Bath Abbey

At the heart of the city stands Bath Abbey, an architectural marvel and prime example of Gothic architecture at its finest. Step inside this sacred space and be mesmerised by the soaring vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, or tackle the climb to the top, which has approximately 200 narrow and, at times, steep steps. Although, the views from the top are worth it. Discover its rich history, from its origins as a Benedictine monastery to its restoration during the Victorian era.

best things to do bath

Where to Stay

There are a few accommodation options in Bath, but if you’re looking for something historic, something charming, and with contemporary upgrades, consider Hotel Indigo Bath. With its distinctive Georgian Terrace facade and stylish decor inspired by the city’s rich history, the hotel offers a unique and immersive experience reminiscent of a scene from Bridgerton. The rooms are elegant and comfortable, with modern technology. There are only 166 rooms, making it a boutique hotel, adding to its charm. The best part, it’s a stone’s throw away from Bath’s major attractions, shops, and restaurants.

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Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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