Built in 1795 and now part of the city’s World Heritage Site, the Pump Room is a marvel of Georgian splendour and a magnet for tourists. Located above the Roman Baths, most of the features of the Pump Room remain unchanged, including the spa water that still spurts from its famous fountain overlooking the natural hot spring. Mentioned in Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, it’s as popular a destination now as it was when it first opened.
Run by Searcys, the Pump Room restaurant offers daytime sustenance ranging from cooked breakfasts and elevenses with Bath buns to Champagne afternoon teas – although there are also plenty of takers for lunch. Refuel with a selection of finger sandwiches or a local ale and Cheddar rarebit; otherwise go the whole hog with confit duck and pheasant terrine followed by smoked haddock and spinach fishcakes or local Somerset chicken with garlic mash and roast shallot.
Many choose to visit the Pump Room for afternoon tea, though, as the surroundings lend themselves perfectly to this quintessential pastime. The afternoon tea menus have been designed to champion the local producers from Bath and the surrounding area, meaning sandwiches are made with bread from Bakers of Bath, cheese from Pensworth Dairies and meat from Bath’s family butcher, Bartlett & Sons.
There are several traditional set teas to choose from, including the Beau Nash Cream Tea, the Somerset High Tea, the Traditional Pump Room Tea, and the Pump Room Champagne Tea. All packages include unlimited refills of loose leaf tea and coffee from the house collection.
The drinks list at the Pump Rooms is loaded with celebratory bubbles, wines and cocktails, though there are softs too. Booking ahead is highly recommended, especially on weekends and particularly for afternoon tea slots, so if you have your heart set on visiting, it’s best to make a reservation well in advance.