Bath: Christmas shopping in the Golden City
PUBLISHED: 09:18 17 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:18 20 February 2013
Nicky Hancock helps you tick off your present list in Bath
Book a whole days Christmas shopping in Bath and you can work right down to the bottom of your list. Demanding maiden aunts, troublesome teens and over indulged children; Bath can solve all of your gift dilemmas. The Georgian backdrop is a magical setting for Christmas shopping and this is a compact and very walkable city. If you hate the stereotypical airless shopping mall atmosphere with the glare of artificial lights, then Bath is the place for you. With lively cafes and restaurants and a huge number of independents as well as all of the top high street names it ticks all the boxes. The magical Bath Christmas Market with its 130 wooden chalets selling many locally sourced and hand crafted gifts runs until December 11.
So lets start with men, always my biggest challenge. With the Rugby World Cup fresh in our minds, the R word is running through the blood of most British men. The Bath Rugby shirt for this season is in stock at the Bath Rugby shop on Pulteney Bridge. Next door, B&O have the coolest boys toys including an iPod docking station with speakers in sharp colours. If the 890 price tag in beyond your budget the AB headphone fits any MP3 player or iPod and is just 120. Bath has its own Apple Store in Sleek new SouthGate which at any given moment is packed with big boys of all ages loving it all of wishing they had an iPad2.
Fly fishing is the kind of sport you cant just stumble into so ask the experts at Orvis. They have all the kit including the lightest rods on the market and can point you in the direction of a man in Chew Valley who teaches fly fishing from scratch. Wandering back along Pulteney Bridge you may pause and dream in the window of Mallorys, one of Baths oldest businesses. Here you may pick out a Breitling timepiece for your man or make a note of the particular ring like the Duchess of Cambrdge only new, to add to your own Santa list. Quadri at Milsom Place is another good place for watches with sleek Danish designed Jacob Jenson of titanium and steel, the only place in the UK you can buy this brand.
Paul Smith accessories at Bloomsbury make an excellent present. In fact you could probably do all your Christmas shopping at Bloomsbury which packs a punch with its compact store with Avoca clothing, contemporary jewellery, Tin Tin collectables and delightful books.
While you are in Quadri, be sure to look at their Alessi collection. Alessi is about as iconic as design gets and each year they create new pieces in collaboration with different designers. Classic designs like their kettle and lemon squeezer are still popular but more recent additions include their matt black La Stanza Dello Scirocco (the names are as good as the designs) which start at 24 or a covetable stainless steel folded fruit bowl designed by Stevan Blaess.
Bath does home wares well with the Luma for ethical gifts right next to Quadri, The Salcombe Trading Company, and as you head through to Broad Street and Rossiters, known fondly as the Libertys of the West. Head up to Walcot Street to find the most glorious Scandinavian design at Shannon. Moose are big this Christmas and you can find them on mugs, throws and duvet covets. Shannon is the only place in the UK for Moomin who adorns adorable clocks and enamel mugs and more. What could be more charming than Anglaspel carousels powered by a single tea light, a snip for your little angels at 8.99?
Quiet Street is not always true to its name as shoppers make a bee line for Kitchens. This is the address that delights serious cooks selling everything from bake ware to bread machines. They stock KitchenAid Foodmixers in no less than 30 colours and the Rolls Royce of kitchen knives by Zwilling J.A. Henkels.
Less practical, but buying art as a gift is a great option, especially in Bath which has more than 25 galleries. This city is a melting pot for the visual arts, work ranging from traditional to contemporary, collectable to affordable. Beaux Arts and the Adam Gallery have galleries in Bath and Cork Street in London, indicative of the citys standing in the art world. St. Margarets Buildings is a good place to browse and Quest Gallerys sources artists from as far away as Australia as well as home grown talent like local artist, Justine Eavis.
If the festive season has become a bit too commercial for your liking then you will love My Small World at Little SouthGate. Bring back make believe play with wigwams, dressing up and play kitchens and ride along wheely bug bees, trucks and tractors. Eric Snooks, tucked away behind M&S is a bit of an institution in Bath. A whole section is dedicated to family games and jigsaw, with construction toys like Logo and Playmobil, kites, stocking fillers, arts and crafts and great gizmo HexBugs, the robotic creature that behaves like a bug, a must have this Christmas. Cath Kidston has gorgeous floral fancies for little girls and the White Companys soft toys are soft enough for the newest of new borns.
For teens make a detour to Jack Wills where even a humble pencil case carries the tell tale blue and pink stripes. Hollister is the latest brand at SouthGate with others in the list like Urban Outfitters, Cult, Top Shop and anyone with a teenage son knows that they can only wear Calvin Klein underwear otherwise they are positively deprived. Boots carries Benefit cosmetics and lots more for girly girls. Tinc in Little SouthGate is full of colourful stationery with attitude. For glitzy treats the Silver Shop in Union Passage sells many lovely but reasonably priced gifts such as their daisy range which is handmade in Bath.
The fabulous fashionista
Liz Cox fans know that their way to Margarets Buildings in Bath their only UK store. Buy an eco friendly designer bag made a few miles away in Liz Coxs workshops. Opposite you can discover vintage chic at Heavens Bazaar. Nostalgic references are rife on the catwalk this season. For grown up and covetable pieces to recreate an entirely original look follow Baths vintage trail to Scarlet Vintage and the Yellow Shop on Walcot Street is great for recycled cool fashion.
Mee on Bartlett Street is every Bath girls favourite boutique. Chunky knit hosiery by Jonathon Aston; cashmere warps; Russian Cossack grey fur hats, very on trend this season ;beautiful mohair knitted stole and filigree butterfly pendants, whats not to like? If you want to turn heads as you walk down the street, add exclusive Molecule 01 to your wish list, less of a perfume and more of an aroma. Every girl deserves some sexy undies and The Dressing Room in Quiet Street or Hannah Dulcie in Milsom Place is the place to go for advice on getting the right ones for your girl. Her lingerie includes ranges by La Perla and Stella McCartney as well as her very own Loved By brand.
Lotions and potions
Jollys on Milsom Street may be one of the oldest department stores in the land but it has the A to Z of the latest beauty brands from Aveda to Yves Saint Laurent and at the other end of town the new Debenhams has a sumptuous beauty hall. In between, Old Bond Street is home to Space NK, Molton Brown, Crabtree & Evelyn and LOccitaine and on Northumberland Passage, Neals Yard Remedies is packed with indulgent lotions and potions. You really cant go wrong with so much to choose from!
Good enough to eat
Head for The Fine Cheese Co. to pick up your seasonal stilton. They have superb hampers and gift collections like the Royal Box of Regal Cheeses now updated to include Katherine, a goat cheese made in Somerset by Pete Humphries. They say Katherine is modern and mellow, can be a little firm, but makes a wonderful addition to the other royals. Chocolate fans need to mark the date of December 3 for the Milsom Place chocolate festival or call at one of Baths superb chocolatiers like Minerva House of Chocolate by Bath Abbey.
For information on Bath go to visitbath.co.uk