Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Cafes for Writing in Bath

If you're a student or ever have been at University, self employed or working from home, you'll be well acquainted with the twin demons of procrastination and distraction. You've possibly left the warm, protective cocoon of secondary school with its simple homework and spoon feeding teaching methods and now it's you who's responsible for your work flow. Nobody is checking up on you, nobody is telling you how much you need to be working and it's all too easy to resign yourself to a day working from the sofa swaddled in blankets, which we all know will eventually result in a binge of (in my case) 'Being Human', a spring clean of the entire flat,  a tempting book or a hearty session on the Sims 2. 

After 3 lengthy years of fending off procrastination and distraction, I finally found my working method, my salvation and focus zone; the local Coffee shops. There's a reason JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter in a cafe and it's not just JK that uses Coffee shops as her office; coffee shop work flow has become a internationally established social practice. Cafes are wonderful places for people-watching or zoning out. You're far removed from your duvet/guitar/fridge/bath tub/other distracting conveniences, and there's a nifty barista who will make  and bring you coffee or tea on demand. Caffeine = stimulation and energy, so bearing all these in mind, it's a formula for a productive work session. 

Bath is the spawning hub for independent coffee shops all rivalling with each other to be the most 'hip' and talked about. There's coffee shops for families, tourists and day-trippers, upmarket-ladies-who-lunch types, hipsters, students and couples. There's a veritable plethora to choose between, but how can we decipher which places just want you in and out in a trice to make way for the next bums-on-seats, and which places are a mellow, relaxed and happy to let you use their free wifi for a whole afternoon?

Nearing completion of my time at Bath Spa University, I've realised that after four years, I've finally figured out my working practice and the best methods for getting the most out of myself whilst avoiding distraction. We're all unique and what works for me may not necessarily work for you but I wish somebody had written a helpful guide tailored to university life in Bath when I was a fresher. Someone who was a real student with concrete experience who had suggested helpful advice on where to go and knuckle down and get some work done. 

If you're like me, and you find the coffee houses to be a welcome salvation for working and are looking for places around Bath that you can take your laptop or notebooks, spread out and spend an afternoon churning out projects, then I've shared a guide to some of my favourite spots. These are the places I go to write. I find it nearly impossible to get work done at home and often, I just spend an afternoon toing and froing between the fridge and my bed. 
Despite loving Cornwall ever so dearly, outside of Falmouth or Truro, there's not a huge amount of Coffee shops you can frequent and the Cornish haven't quite gotten over the old fashioned mentality of 'Drink up and go'. If I dared spend a whole afternoon in a coffee house, exploiting the free wifi and slowly sipping at my gradually-getting-too-cold Latte, I'd be subject to hostile glances from the Patron. One thing I will really miss when I leave Bath in the summer is the abundance of choice, strolling through the cobbled streets and nesting down at a table with my macbook pro and a vanilla Latte. Ultimate First world problems. 

Situated directly opposite the train station, this delightful cafe come bar has been recently renovated and shed its former identity as a tawdry tourist cafe that mopped up day-trippers from the train station, to a delightful coffee house that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and even has a zany selection of cocktails. 
My favourite time to visit Cafe Au Lait is in the evening. It quietens down some but still has a mellow vibe, a playlist of laid-back music from Reggae to electronic, some beautiful lighting and an inoffensively stylish decor that is modern and dapper without being too hip or over kill. A satisfying balance of wood and stone, the decor has been well considered and the new patrons have really brought this place to life. 


This cafe has free wifi (you can get the codes written on nifty paper tags on the sugar bowls), available plug sockets if you want to plug in your laptop and for the writers that want to get really cosy, there are three cushioned window seats that are quite deep and allow you to feel really at home. To be honest, the window seats are my favourite feature of this cafe, they're really snug and remind me of my childhood love of squeezing into nooks and crannies. The service here is by the counter but servers will bring your drinks or food to your table. 

The products are moderately priced, a latte averaging at £2.60 and a tea at £2.30 however, their coffee is double shot and they certainly take pride in their range of stock. There's an expansive selection of specialty teas, deliciously quirky milkshakes and cocktails (I really love the sound of the Lavender Collins). They serve breakfast (which we tried and it was pretty dang tasty), pizzas, burgers and cakes and their menus promise that all food is freshly cooked from scratch and they only use free range eggs. I'll definitely be back here for pizza and that Collins. 
As It's quite cosy, I much prefer this place in the early evening when it's more chilled out. They're open much later than your regular coffee shop as they serve dinner and alcohol but still retain the feeling of a coffee house late into the evening. I love this eclectic mix of themes and did I mention that their crockery comes in the loveliest of colours? Sea foam green and sky blue hues. They have done a great job. My experience of the staff is that they're always warm and very friendly and there's even outside seating too! 

If you require something a bit more hip, perhaps you are pretty well supplied in the beard department or you consider coffee to be in the same running as wine, then Colonna and Hunter, located in Milsom place may be the place for you. This place is a bar as well as a coffee house and George, who really does consider himself a connoisseur of 'Le Bean' (our house is filled with coffee paraphernalia. We've got percolators coming out of the Yin Yan) says that this java really is the bee's knees (Actually, he just said it was flipping good coffee, but I love the imagery of Bees with knees). 
The decor here is exceedingly "swish" with the key words here being "art school", "minimalistic" and "refined". They serve craft beers as well as brunch, are open late into the night and the two rooms that make up this cafe are exceedingly well decorated. It takes me back to my days at art school, especially with the gnarly tables and chairs. The place has an attic feel and although there aren't many plug sockets available, there is free wifi and there were a fair few students/creatives dotted about working away on their MacBooks which means that the trendy baristas aren't going to kick you out if you want to set up office. 

It was safe to say that the majority of the clientele were sporting suitably vintage hair cuts and beards and I was glad I had chosen today to wear a breton top with dungarees and hobnail boots. I felt accepted. If you are big on interior design, artisan coffee that is exceedingly well selected and Avocado on toast, then this is possibly the place for you. It's pricey, but that's independent coffee shops for you. It cost me £5.60 for a tea and a coffee and the brunch menu was definitely to be saved for a day when the tips are generous at work. If you want to impress your friends by bringing them somewhere 'edgy' and exceptionally modern then this is the place to do it, however coffee is wasted on me because I'm just more of a tea kind of girl. Their earl grey pretty nice though. 


Are you fed up of looking at pictures of Cafes and crockery yet? This is my personal favourite; The Forum Coffee house, an independent coffee shop located in the former art deco old cinema and Bath City Church near the bus station. This coffee house can be easy to miss if you don't know where it is or  already know about it (even though it's super close to the centre). It's clientele consists largely of students, families and the people that use the church (there's a beautiful community vibe here! I'm always bumping into friends) and the service behind the counter is so warm and cheery. The playlist is always mellow, relaxed and generally folky/acoustic and the coffee fairly priced. On the Sunday morning that I met some photography clients here (and took these photos) they were running a happy hour with all hot drinks costing just £1.50! They have a great range of sweet and savoury products and some hot food is available like savoury croissants and homemade soup. I really love the Chemexes of coffee that they serve and the art deco decor is absolutely beautiful. The chairs are exceedingly comfortable with a variety of seating available from a wooden work bench, diner seating and vintage/retro style sofas. There are plenty of power outlets for working as well as free wifi and the staff are more than happy to welcome workers. I always use this place to meet my work clients and do my uni work partly because I just feel so comfortable in the atmosphere here, and partly because their space is just so darn comfy. There is nothing pretentious or hip about the Forum; it is beautiful, bright, fresh and welcoming. I can't recommend this shop enough! Only I don't want it to get too crowded, because then I'll be out of a comfy arm chair and an office. 
(They do a white chocolate cake here that is like a slice of sweet-delicious milky cloud on a plate. I can't stop myself if it's in stock. It's probably to blame for me gaining about 5lb a stone this week.)

Bath has a brand new Boston Tea Party, and it's interior is nothing short of marvellous. I really didn't think I was the sort of person to advocate a chain restaurant (albeit, a very small one like BTP) but I think that their ethos of fair food, superior quality products and the fact that their design here is so spiffy that it felt rude not to alert the student & freelance populace of Bath that this place is now open and welcomes laptop users!
It's absolutely huge inside, completely contrasting to the pokey and always over crowded BTP located on Kingsmead Square near the big Society Cafe. The building has attractive art deco features and BTP have kept their design in keeping with the buildings roots. There's a myriad of seating, from family friendly private booths, hand-made vintage style sofas with personal coffee tables, sharing benches and good old fashioned regular cafe tables. If you're picky about your seating styles, I have truly never seen somewhere that can leave everybody completely satisfied. Unless you want to write your poetry in a hammock, then I'm sorry but we can't help you here.

With a menu to please even the most random dietary requirements, yummy cake and alternative iced-teas, BTP have it covered. I can't stop sharing pictures of their interior. Seriously, stop me. I should probably talk about why it's actually a good place for writers. 
So vibrant ambience aside, there are plenty of plug sockets dotted around and free wifi. As it's counter service and there is an abundance of space, BTP is always buzzing but not busy enough on a weekday that you're going to be subjected to burning looks from table lurkers, waiting for a spot. There's so much light and room to spread out, do you prefer to work on a sofa? in a secluded booth or on a dining table? then spread the hell out because you've got tons of choice. 
Budget wise, BTP is moderate but Jess managed to polish off 2 drinks, a stack of bacon and maple pancakes with a lemon drizzle cake for desert, all for under £13. That's pretty fair. Also, they serve their cold drinks in those cute glass jars that were all the rage last year. Part of me is a little tired of them and their hype, but the other part of me is still secretly enjoying the novelty of drinking my lemonade out of a jar. What can you do? I sort of wonder what the next hip receptacle is going to be. When I went to France last month, my friends tried to feed me earl grey out of a bowl. Like a cat. Apparently that's the done thing in France, drinking tea from a bowl. George tells me that in the yesteryears, saucers were for drinking your tea from. Anybody got any other random facts about bizarre containers for consumables? I'd love to hear more! :) 

So here are some of my favourite spots for taking my laptop and spreading out my work, around Bath. You may even know Bath better than me and have a few others to recommend. I was considering including the impressive Society cafe that's located on the square by Komedia. They have some pokey rooms downstairs which are secluded and great for working and their coffee is delicious. However, I always feel just that bit out of place there and slightly uncomfortable. Also, it's worth noting that 'Topping and Co', that beautiful bookshop at the top of town serve tea!

Where do you find is your favourite hang out for getting work done?

I hope you've enjoyed my little guide and maybe found a new place to set up base! Happy writing, freelancing and essay tackling folks! Tell me in the comments about your random knowledge of quirky food & drink containers :D



  1. Are you sure you mean 'vestibule'? That usually means a cavity of space between an entrance and a main room in a building! Don't you mean 'receptacle'???
    anyway, this is a brilliant write-up, all of these sound very nice, I'd like to visit all of them. My local town has a distinct lack of good cafes. There's only one really that is really nice!!x

    1. Quite possibly! I always thought receptacle was the correct word but I was having this discussion out with my friend (an ex english student!) last week and he insisted vestibule was correct. >.< I've altered it but this just means that I was right in the first place, so I really don't mind ;) x

  2. These photographs are divine! And I think the onslaught of photos of the interiors of BTP are completely justified! it looks like a beautiful space!

    Great round up of a lovely bunch of cafes - i'm feeling like a trip to bath now.

    1. Thankyou Ella! :D

      The Boston Tea Party definitely did a wonderful job of revitalising that space ^_^ I am utterly in love with it's interior. It's stirred up a love for Art Deco in me and now I find myself gravitating more and more towards those sorts of spaces :)
      Hopefully you'll get your trip to Bath and you'll feel well prepared on where to visit :D
      Have a wonderful week x

  3. Love this! Live in Warminster so we're often in Bath. Our favourite place is the Forum Cafe - I can't resist their caramel shortbread. If I owned a cafe, it would look just like that! Will have to visit the new BTP - love their food :-)


    1. I can see why the Forum would be your favourite, it's mine too :D I can't rate it highly enough ^_^ I wish I had taken more pictures of them, but I was meeting clients so it was a little rushed >.< It's such a great space :D
      If you love the Forum, then the new BTP will certainly not disappoint :D
      I've never been to Warminster, only Longleat forest and to that amazing chairswing by Heavens Gate that swings over the park/valley/lands of the house :) I've only got a few months left in this city so I feel I need to explore it's periphery some more ^_^
      Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely day :) x

  4. Ooooo so lovely - ok so despite BTP being a chain (haven't heard of it before though) I love how it looks! Bath definitely has more accessible (AND SPACIOUS) places and cafes than where I am, that's for sure... would love to visit Bath again and see these places in person. Although the place which charges £5 for tea isn't that great in my books! Coffee is lost on me, as I get heart palpitations from it hahahah! dangerous!

    Cherie x
    say hi at sinonym

  5. Writing and working in coffee shops is only something I've recently discovered, I love people watching so it keeps me concentrated seeing everyone around but then getting down to the hard work!

    Infinity of fashion// Lucy Jane

  6. These are all so cute. I love writing in a coffee shop, I always find my own house more distracting with chores that should be getting done and Netflix that can be watched. It's much easier to remove myself to somewhere with delicious beverages and knuckle down!

  7. Wow! Such a lovely place! I would like to be there <3


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