Cafe Retro: Serving Locals & Tourists since 1993

Established in 1993. the Cafe Retro concept was to create an eclectic style with an ambience unique to Bath where people would feel comfortable and relaxed, a ‘home from home’ for locals and a great find for tourists. Cafe Retro is one of Bath’s oldest Independent businesses and where possible sources products locally, supporting local businesses and traders, using local, free-range eggs and has also used biodegradable/compostable disposables in the Cafe & Take-Away since June 2012.

Situated in a listed Georgian building, Cafe Retro was originally the site of “Lindsey’s Assembly Rooms” designed by John Wood the Younger in 1728 and built on the Old Bowling Green & Abbey Orchard.  The rooms were opened on 6th April 1730 by the retired singer Dame Lindsey and were subsequently leased to Catharine Lovelace (1736-7) before becoming Wiltshire’s Rooms (also known as Gyde’s Rooms).

The building was later demolished in 1806 to make way for York Street & the building of the Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institute. The Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institute was subsequently demolished in 1932 to make way for a new traffic scheme.

Our shopfront at No. 18 York Street was designed in 1906 by Herbert W Matthews, architect for Capital & Counties Bank. In “The Adventure of the Priory School”, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle reveals that Sherlock Holmes banked with The Capital and Counties Bank’s Oxford Street Branch, the bank merged with Lloyds in 1918.

For many years, 18 York Street was a Temperance Hotel before changing into the Abbey Café in 1936 which it remained until 1993 when Café Retro was opened. The upstairs was opened as Retro Restaurant in 1995, closely followed by the addition of Retro-to-Go on the corner of Terrace Walk.