Artful bar redesign plays to the gallery as Abbey Hotel’s new owners continue to redefine venue

April 25, 2019

Bath’s Abbey Hotel has unveiled the latest in a series of changes since it changed hands a year ago – the city’s first ‘cocktail gallery’.

The 62-bedroom boutique hotel’s bar has been renovated and ‘redefined’ into the ArtBar – described as “an eclectic space of different lights, materials and textures”. 

The four-star hotel’s owners also say the “sleek and stylish” bar has the feel of a contemporary gallery with evolving collections every quarter showcasing the vibrant creative talent of local artists, photographers and sculptors.

The creative theme has also been extended into its drinks’ menu with a new cocktail called Artistic License, which reflects elements of the exhibited artworks.

Curated by Bath artist Emma Taylor, ArtBar’s first REDEFINED exhibition is a collection of eclectic artworks from herself and four local artists – James Nunn, Emma Trussler, Jean Farrell and Rob Highton.  

The collection ranges from abstract textile and wood applied images, to dramatic contemporary Lino print designs such as James’ trio of Octopuses and colourful layered digital figurative artwork. 

The REDEFINED exhibition offers an interactive gallery experience, giving the hotel’s guests and visitors the chance to learn more about the artists themselves and the processes they use. Sketch books filled with workings and ideas will be on display around the bar, allowing visitors to get a feel for their inspiration.  

There are also plans to have an ‘artist in residence’ on site, giving visitors a chance to see how their work comes together.

Meanwhile, paint-splattered and smudged tables, carpet and stacking crates behind the bar mimic the feel of an artist’s studio while desks also replicate storage units with angled drawing lamps, something commonly found in artists’ studios, art schools and design practices.

In addition to evening drinks, the ArtBar’s redesign makes it an unusual environment for social gatherings, business meetings or to get some work done during the day – the new higher-level tables, laptop charging and USB ports make it an unusual work space.

The opening of the ArtBar follows the refurbishment of a third of the hotel’s bedrooms, drawing on three of the city’s creative themes – film, art and photography.

The hotel also includes The Escape – a former World War II bunker under the hotel, provides a contemporary private event and function space – and the English/French brasserie Koffmann & Mr. White’s, opened at the end of last year by legendary chefs Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White, who between them have amassed six Michelin stars.

The hotel was acquired by KE Hotels, a family-owned business with eight high-end hotels in the UK and US, in February last year.

Abbey Hotel general manager Josh Watts said: “We’re delighted with the new look ArtBar and think guests staying, eating or drinking with us will be too. For visitors and locals, the brighter, lighter and contemporary space brings something fresh and new to Bath – the chance to take in the city’s creative culture while enjoying some great cocktails, afternoon teas or sample dishes from our English/French brasserie, Koffmann & Mr. White’s.”


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