We Stay at Bath’s Best Hotel
What: I grew up near Bath and whenever we visited to go shopping it would inevitably rain. So much so it’s now a running joke. In the midst of my teenage years when I first started reading Austen and was a little obsessed with Jennifer Ehle’s performance in the BBC’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, I use to walk up to the Royal Crescent and imagine the parties that took place in the Georgian period and how I would live there one day. It would be raining, and I’d probably be all dramatic and angsty. Now I look at the derelict one bed flat selling at auction on Wandsworth High Street and know I can’t even afford that. What I can do though, is visit the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath, I might never have a house in the stone crescent but I can have a weekend there.
New? No, back in 1950 a guest house was opened at No. 16 Royal Crescent with No.15 added in 1971. Seven years later, hotelier John Tham ensured that any unnecessary and unwelcomed modernisation was removed restoring the rooms to their former Georgian glory.
The Setting: The name says it all, the hotel is part of the Royal Crescent, one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in the UK and one of the most famous crescents in the world. Designed by John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1775 the crescent sits at the top of the city Bath, a World Heritage Centre and home to the Roman baths, The Assembly Rooms and impressive architectural structures like the Circus built by John Wood the Elder. It’s also only an hour and 40 minutes direct from Paddington on the train, although we’re told that once the trains are electrified this could be reduced to just over an hour, but don’t quote me on that.
The Rooms: Rooms are divided between the main crescent and the Coach House across the gardens, all feature bathrobes, Floris products and at least queen-sized beds. We however were staying in The Duke of York suite, there are 11 suites to choose from and I’m not exaggerating it was bigger than mine and three of my housemates’ rooms put together. All of them feature either a view out across the Crescent’s lawn as ours did, or of the hotel’s garden. Blending ornate, Regency grandeur with modern touches, the rooms include heated bathroom floors, giant four poster beds (I couldn’t reach from side to side), well-stocked carved bookshelves, Regency portraits, private sitting rooms and Nespresso machines. The tones of duck egg blues and soft greys were lit up by a sparkling chandelier and four sash windows flooded our room with light. Our room even benefitted for a private spiral staircase, which swept down to a mirrored wall, I may have pretended to live out my dreams of entering a ball Lizzie Bennet style on those stairs.
The Restaurant: Across from the main hotel, you’ll find the 3AA rosette award-winning Dower House restaurant led by Executive Head Chef, David Campbell. Dishes include the likes of: Somerset goats curd with old English tomatoes, garden marjoram onion seed crisp and charcoal emulsion; roasted Everleigh venison loin with chestnut, swede and sprout petal and a cardamom cheesecake with glazed plum and plum sorbet. There’s a particularly good starter of slow cooked duck egg, smoky Morteau sausage, fried bread and chicken jus and I also recommend the roast scallops with tomatoes, smoked eel, avocado and marjoram. We were told to get a little bit of everything on your fork and then wash it down with the tomato consommé. For a main course, go with the Salt Marsh lamb rump, with confit parsnip, burnt apple puree, roast apple and mint quinoa. Whilst we were tempted by the chocolate tart, we ended up going for the cheese which included local Cerney Ash goat’s cheese and was served with white and red wine jelly.
The Spa: With its own Tattinger walled-garden, the hotel is home to an award-winning Spa & Bath House. Fully renovated in 2016, the spa features a vitality pool; a Himalayan salt infused sauna, a steam room where you can breathe in eucalyptus and menthol; a gym and my favourite a 12-metre heated relaxation pool. Here you can swim under the arched ceiling, swimming right up to the door which leads into the garden, it’s simple but one of the most beautiful and relaxing pools I’ve visited. There’s a full range of treatments too which make the most of holistic brand, Elemental Herbology. Before a treatment you’re asked to answer questions such as ‘how do you express happiness?’ and ‘what is your favourite season?’ these will determine which oil should be used and how they can provide the best results. We went for the Royal Crescent Signature Treatment, described as their hero treatment, the 90-minute treatment targets the back with an exfoliation and massage which uses hot stones, followed by a facial and a mini scalp massage. I did what I said I wouldn’t do, after they pressed our feet to release any tension and wrapped them in hot towels, I promptly fell asleep, drifting in and out, until I awoke in a dreamy haze being handed a herbal tea. Whilst I might have missed most of the treatment, the pain in my back had gone and there was a dewy glow to my skin, I’m always a little sceptical of a facial, but I highly recommend it.
The Garden: Not that you would know from looking at the front of the hotel, but at the back you’ll find an acre of garden and needing a weekend where we didn’t do anything we found that we didn’t leave, instead we took off our shoes, sank into one of the Sipsmith deck chairs and promptly ordered a G&T only moving to follow the afternoon sun. Afternoon tea is served in the garden and in a first, it wasn’t raining when I visited, in fact it was the start of this heatwave, so we also had breakfast there. As well as being a tranquil spot to read, it also made an excellent people watching spot. There was the American lady who visited once a year; the artist staying with her mum; the IT crowd who were never without their laptops and the couple who couldn’t keep their hands off each other. All we needed was Poirot shuffling around and it would be the start of an Agatha Christie.
Go With: The Royal Crescent Hotel is perfect for a weekend where you just want to relax; take tea in the garden, have a glass of Champagne after the spa and revitalise yourself in the vitality pool.
Where: 16 Royal Crescent, Bath, BA1 2LS, www.royalcrescent.co.uk
Final Word: I couldn’t recommend The Royal Crescent Hotel more, the room was wonderful, the staff were charming and the welcome and service exceeded many top London hotels.
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