The Common Room in Bath packs in more fun and quirkiness after a redesign
It may be small but The Common Room in Bath is making a big impact with its new look. Harry Bret, who bought the venue three years ago, has invested in a striking and quirky new design including a new bar on the first floor. “It’s almost over the top but it’s just awesome fun,” he says.
He enlisted the help of Sophie Finch of Finch Interiors, which has worked on many unique bars in London such as Adventure Bar in Clapham and The Breakfast Club’s Call Me Mr Lucky and The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town. For The Common Room, Sophie went with the idea of “pimping up common everyday things into something much better”. Not afraid to add a bit of bling, she set out to “celebrate the client’s eclectic collection of trinkets and make room for them”.
The ground-floor bar has been transformed with a colourful glittering dance floor. “Rather than just have a disco ball hanging from the ceiling, we have made the whole space a disco ball,” Sophie says. Upstairs, the new bar has more quirky features including wallpaper on the ceiling and walls with a swimming pool theme inspired by Hugh Hefner and Playboy bunnies.
Harry is delighted with the new look. “The dance floor has golden mirror tiles – how much more fun does it get!” He says The Common Room has retained its place as a “fun, unpretentious” destination for more discerning partygoers, located behind the Assembly Rooms away from the main circuit. Open from 8pm six nights a week, it trades till 2am Monday to Thursday and until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. Due to licensing, it operates as a members’ bar.
As well as a good range of draught and bottled beers from around the world, it has an extensive range of premium spirits and liqueurs, including some boutique brands not often seen in Bath. Harry likes to source products locally whenever possible such as Bath Gin and Lilley’s Apples and Pears Cider. He has also developed his own “after-shot” for tequila shots, a secret “sweet and tart” recipe of natural ingredients for cleansing the palate.
With a background at operators such as TCG, Spirit and Greene King, Harry is always looking to develop new ideas for the bar. The latest is premade cocktails, such as a Bloody Mary with their own bacon and basil-infused vodka, a Negroni made with Sacred Gin, and a Bramble with Bath Gin. “The bar is very small and can get very busy so we need a way to serve consistently good drinks very quickly,” he explains. “We do things simply but we do them well. In the small bar that we have, we can have a lot of fun.”
The Common Room, 2 Saville Row, Bath BA1 2QP
Tel: 01225 425550
Design: Finch Interiors
Main contractor: Embassy Shopfitters
Lighting: Andy Waters
Project management, quantity surveying: PSE Associates
Originally published in the January 2015 print edition of Bar magazine. Pictures by Dot & Lucy Photography.