Apsley House was built by the Duke of Wellington in 1832 and is about a mile from the city centre, in the western suburbs of Bath on the Bristol side. My fit friend lives nearby and always walks into town - she does it in about 20 minutes, but you might want to catch the bus that stops opposite the hotel, as that only takes five minutes.
Apsley House blurs the lines between an upmarket guest house and a boutique hotel with 12 individually designed rooms. My favourite is the cosy Vitoria room on the second floor, with warm reds decorating the super king-size bed and a large bathroom. But there are lots of choices for different budgets and tastes.
The Wellesley on the ground floor is best for those with mobility problems and, like all the rooms, it is full of unexpected little features such as tea boxes, handheld antique mirrors and interesting furniture. Decor is on the traditional side with swirling floral curtains and lots of four-poster or king-size beds. In January 2011 top-floor rooms were refurbished with new bathrooms and decor and, although smaller, because of their position in the house, they have a fresh, cottagey feel to them.
Downstairs are the garden rooms (refurbished in January 2010), which have direct access onto the gardens. The Garden Suite is ideal for families as there is a curtained-off single bedroom that would suit younger guests. Romantics, of which I am one, will like the Wellington Room (the Duke’s old bedroom), the French themed four-poster Romantic Room (funnily enough) and The Beau, which has a separate garden entrance and an amazing antique roll-top bath. A warning for shower-lovers though: you wash in the antique bath as the original owners did – with a jug, not a power-shower.
Classic FM plays in the hotel and I could have happily snoozed in a comfy chair in the Drawing Room, surrounded by the grand piano, chandeliers and oil paintings. The Drawing Room opens onto the dining room, which has views over the gardens below where there are outside tables for the sunnier months. It’s a great place to watch the hot air balloons passing over in the summertime, although avoid lunchtimes as the kids will be out in the school playground next door.
Eating and drinking
An honesty bar is tucked into the corner of the drawing room. A Welsh dresser looms over the sunny dining room where Continental and cooked breakfasts are served up in the morning. Veggie options are available and there’s a daily special on the menu such as eggs Benedict to look out for.
Polite and professional, but also very friendly – guests are encouraged to feel at home... owners Claire and Nick Potts have even been known to let guests store cheese in their fridge on request.
Who stays there
It’s a mix of Americans on holiday and Londoners on weekends away – but it’s mainly couples in their 40s. Special offers in the winter tend to attract older couples looking for a mid-week break.
Look out for mid-week and late availability offers, especially in winter time. Room prices include breakfast, parking and free WiFi.
- High-Speed Internet
- Mature travellers
- Escaping the crowds
Pros & Cons
- Good value
- Free WiFi
- Garden next door to school playground
- Not central