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Crystal Palace Tavern, Bath

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user reviews of the Crystal Palace Tavern, Bath

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

A traditional pub located in an attractive square just next to the abbey, this is one of three pubs in bath that have recently benefited from a combined £7.5m refurbishment. It’s a good sized, inverse U-shape layout with a couple of bars each side joining at the back in to a conservatory overlooking the courtyard. A picture of the Crystal Palace is just inside the door, although I’m not entirely clear on the connection between the venue for the Great Exhibition and the pub.

The left hand bar has something of a hotel drawing room feel with wood panelling all down one wall and there was also wood flooring, the usual Farrow & Ball paintwork and plenty of pictures hung on the walls. A stone fire-place was off to the left, although this was not is use even in January, so is perhaps, merely decorative. There was a gold gilded mirror up above it, and a plasma screen perched somewhat incongruously in the corner, although fortunately this was not in use. The bar to the right looks to be more geared up for dining with a number of the tables being reserved. The décor here was a little softer with a carpeted floor and a large stone bust in the corner.

The conservatory at the rear had a sloping wooden roof and a lighting level that may either be described as atmospheric or gloomy depending on your point of view. There were large bi-folding glass doors covering the entire back wall and this leads out to a pleasant, tiled courtyard. This is almost entirely covered by two large umbrellas, making a suitable outdoor refuge for the smokers. Besides the wicker furniture, there was plenty of foliage and some atmospheric lighting on the stone wall at the rear.

Food wise, the menu offered a decent looking selection of “pub grub” dishes such as Faggots, Haddock & Chips, Burger, Roast Chicken, etc., and these were mostly priced somewhere around the £10 - £12 mark, so perhaps slightly above your usual pub prices. In addition to this there was a selection of sandwiches and a small specials board. A sign also advertised some type of burger deal on Monday nights.

Beers on tap were predominantly from Fullers, with their ESB, London Pride and the seasonal Jack Frost. The only other offering was Butcombe. Ciders were Thatcher’s Gold and Cornish Orchards Cornish Gold. Prices seemed a little steep though with a pint of the Thatchers and a G&T costing £9.10. Overall I quite liked this pub though, and felt that the sympathetic refurbishment has brought it up a notch or two. It was only really let down by a group of somewhat rowdy guys breaking in to song every few minutes. Not entirely the pub’s fault, but it took one of the punters to ask them to keep it down a bit rather than any of the bar staff.
Blackthorn - 6 Jan 2014 11:26
it will be interesting to watch developments here as the pub has been purchased by Fuller's.

malo66 - 27 Nov 2012 17:31
Good pub to meet up in. Real ales a bit limited when I was there but the winter ale was a blinder!! Food average but does the job - as does the pub.
THATOLDMAN - 10 Jan 2012 13:10
Large, food orientated pub with a good garden area. Bellringer at 3.05, Ringwood and Marstons on offer yesterday. Beer was fine although the service was rather slow - although, to be fair, the place was packed before Bath's rugby match kicked off. Menu looked pricey to me.
cheshirecat - 12 Sep 2010 10:57
Good pub tucked away in the middle of town. Nice little sheltered garden at the back. Like the others have said, it's a bit pricey, but the beer is nice.
marstonme - 5 Sep 2010 16:31
Nice pub in pleasant area. Not cheap, but good for a couple pints as the beer is good.
gridone - 22 Aug 2010 14:05
Still going strong on the back of the new development in Bath's shopping area, the Crystal Palace has I feel reached a bit of a nadir? The beer is always good here - we tend to go in on a Sunday in the last throes of the weekend when it's a little more peaceful than some - but complacency is looming. Will it go all swish like the many tiny (and exceedingly overbooked) restaurants around it, or stay as a good, honest pub? At the moment, the jury's out on this, the place is like a diver standing on the board about to drop off or dive for the top.... but just a tweak with the staff, a few more good beers and success awaits.... I'm cautiously optimistic.
mikexley - 1 Apr 2010 17:35
Visited briefly on March 6th and found the atmosphere very pleasant. The beer (most importantly) was well kept and I enjoyed my stay. I will definitely recommend it to friends.
fridge - 22 Mar 2010 08:51
Large multi-roomed pub right on a pleasant square, but handy for the nearby shops. Didn't try the food so can't comment on that.
Large, mostly covered patio area out the back.
It didn't seem to have much atmosphere being rather too well lit (ie; bright) and quite nosiy as well. Beers were Bellringer, something else from Abbey Ales and Pedigrree. Also Blackthorn cider.
Blackthorn - 5 Dec 2009 17:53
Well, I liked it!
Been there 3 times now. Beer always tasty. Good variety too and at the right temperature.
I have also eaten there 3 times and I thought the food was really really good.
headstandking - 22 Aug 2009 11:28
It seemed a nice enough pub but yeah... the food is really poor. 5.00 for a tiny jacket potato, soggy where it was just nuked in the microwave and accompanied with a slice of cucumber and wilted piece of lettuce. Plus a tub of mayo which alledgedly also contained a few flakes of tuna.

Didn't try the beer.... staff were miserable. Shame.
BB_and_Pumps - 16 Aug 2009 09:47
I meant Bellringer, not Gem.
NoGasPlease - 13 Aug 2009 15:44
Prices are high, staff a little surly, and they close at 10pm on a Sunday. Beer choices very limited - some organic nonsense, some creamy Pedigree (special edition apparently) and occassionally Gem. Is it a gastro pub or a drinkers' pub? Not sure it really knows.
NoGasPlease - 13 Aug 2009 15:41
Good beer, excellent food, busy atmosphere.

One of more grass roots pubs in Bath in my humble opinion.

Prices are high, but you get what you pay for.
BeerBaronBarr - 9 Jun 2009 12:55
First visit for a long time, and I was pleasantly surprised. The Bellringer & Oxford Gold were excellent, and unlike other posters, I found the service very good. The food was expensive, but thats no problem as it's only a short walk to Schwarz Brothers. Pub is a bit bland, but the garden is OK (Despite the May weather!), and in all honesty, what else would you expect from a Pub right by the Abbey. Beer is a bit pricy (2.90), but that's hardly unusual in Bath.
Dylanwing - 16 May 2009 16:09
Expensive and not particularly friendly pub. Of all the pubs I tried during my time in Bath this one comes last on all fronts.
beersup - 10 Apr 2009 10:19
Been here many times with work and with friends, the only fault I ever have with it is the prices, it is expensive! Other than that it has a good seating capacity inside and then for the smokers or in the summer the garden is superb for a pub in the centre of Bath. Always worth a visit
DavidBeer1977 - 30 Dec 2008 22:54
Nice pub but too expensive!
mattbeer - 10 Aug 2008 18:24
Decent pub, excellent garden, esp for city Centre, beer good. As for cost - I'm sadly getting used to the 3 pint, so nothing unusual. I've never eaten here, so can't comment on food.
MrBlue - 2 Jun 2008 14:21
Was down in Bath for the weekend and as it was a surprise weekend arranged by the wife and she did not tell me where we were going, was unable to utilise beerintheevening to research decent watering holes before coming down.
After spending an exhausting 3 hours walking around the Roman Baths found the Crystal Palace Tavern and went in to try the local Brewery Ale. Have to say Im slightly surprised by the previous comments as I found this to be a half decent pub. Great location in a quiet square, spitting distance from the Abbey and the Roman Baths. Two good bars either side of a central serving area, and a large patio area out the back where the smokers are protected by a jumbrella (as it was known in the retrospective planning permission notice pinned to the lamp post outside). Service was fast and efficient, despite being crowded, and I found the Abbey Brewery Bellringer to be very drinkable, but as this was the first time I have had it you cannot take this as an expert view.
As for it being an expensive tourist trap, yes there were a few of us tourists in, but at 6.00PM on a Saturday it was very busy with every table taken, so I guess several locals as well. It may well be expensive when considered against other pubs in Bath, but for a tourist from London it didnt seem too bad. If you want to experience a real expensive tourist trap make sure you visit the Punch and Judy in Covent garden when next in the Smoke..

Gann - 28 Jan 2008 14:15
Rubbish - avoid.
anonymous - 8 Aug 2007 17:30
Expensive tourist trap. Definately dont recommend as the beer is very overpriced. The only redeeming feature is its pub quiz.
pubscouter - 18 Apr 2007 21:12
Had a meal here last weekend. Without question the worse food I have ever eaten in the country (that includes Happy Eaters). We paid over 30 for two main courses which were Risotto and Pork Belly. The food arrived in under 5 mins and was disgusting.

The riostto had been well over boiled and then meixed with cream so that it was more like baby food. The pork Belly was 70% fat and has been poached in a non-descript sauce and was served with powdered mash potato. I can only assume they let the dog cook that day.
If we hadn't been with friends I would have refused to pay and I have never done that before.
mitchelro - 20 Mar 2007 22:46
An overpriced pub indeed but a cracker of a city centre resting place before heading off to the pig or the bell.

A good allrounder.
maltedbarley - 17 Feb 2007 13:00
Expensive. Bar staff are slow. Tables dirty and covered in glasses and dirty, full ashtrays. Most expensive Bellringer in town. Go to Lambrettas Bar instead.
mattbeer - 12 Feb 2007 22:42
Despite being in the heart of the tourist area, if you choose the right time to go this is worth a visit. Having gone downhill a few years ago, the interior has been refreshed and the beer range has improved, with a good pint of Bellringer available. I haven't eaten here for a while, but my recollection was positive.
fromedrinker - 7 Jan 2007 10:10
Tourist trap. 25 minute wait for coffee and pint ( it was the coffee that took longer seemingly ).Did'nt make me feel like returning.
HaggisBasher - 13 Dec 2006 08:30
Hmmm. I do wonder about this one.
+Nice food
-Expensive
+Nice location
-chain pub
+they let the manager choose the drinks though
-they only have blackthorn cider

overall- good for a lunchtime bite if someone else is paying, but i'd go to the VRA/Coeur de Lion if i was in the area in the evening.
lg06111985 - 13 Jul 2006 22:29
Great place for a bite of lunch when shopping in Bath. Shame the smoking ban has been removed.
pteron - 20 May 2006 13:48
Large dry conservatory/covered rear area. Pleasant pub.
Staff and food were absolutely brilliant and beautifully presented. Man who served food went out of his way to be helpful. Beer pretty good. Happy, welcoming people in there mostly but not exclusively 25-35. People of all ages welcome.
Gets a 10 because the staff and food made me want to go back. Sadly I was only there for a flying visit. Would be my local if I lived anywhere near.

baldfatandugly - 22 Apr 2006 02:07
V good for Sunday lunches - huge portions, lots of vegetables
sophiett - 12 Sep 2005 14:04
Recent refurb (i.e. it re-opened yesterday). Can smoke again and definitely less tatty than it was. More old-fashioned and more cluttered, but an improvement.
mdma - 11 Jun 2005 15:13
Used to be in here three or four times a week, including the quiz on a Sunday. Not been in since they banned smoking.


mdma - 31 Aug 2004 16:21
Quite a nifty pub, this has a big conservatory and outside, and is located right near the abbey.
It does attract a lot of pretentious custom, and is very expensive, but it is also a decent pub for a respectable drink in attractive surroundings.
The GP - 11 Aug 2004 15:21

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