Perched on one of Bath’s seven hills, the hotel is near the Holbourne Museum, which will be reopening in May 2011. It’s just a 15-minute walk to the city centre through pretty Sydney Gardens and the hotel is secluded from the main road down a long and winding driveway.
Macdonald Bath Spa is split into the main hotel, which has 108 bedrooms and the 21 Imperial Suites, which are housed in a more modern building in the courtyard. Most rooms have a double or twin beds and the decor in standard rooms is clean and uncluttered. I feel that the dark mahogany headboards and marble bathrooms give the hotel an overly masculine air, which is quite a contrast to the often more flowery decor in most of Bath’s hotels. Having said that, the four-poster suite has a sprinkle of chintz and is more traditional with heavier antique-looking furnishings and regal curtains – it’s a little on the small side, but would suit traditionalists.
Inside a warren-like building are the Imperial Suites – again these have a tint of testosterone with dark wooden beds bearing pointy corners and blood red throws. Each suite has two TVs, one in the bedroom and one in the lounge area, where you can curl up in front of the fireplace. I was glad to see a feminine touch in the small dressing room. All rooms in the hotel also have fluffy robes, tea and coffee making facilities and a mini-bar, which can be filled on request – with girlie drinks if required.
Bath Spa’s gardens are beautiful – all seven acres of them – and the interior of the hotel is just as grand with a regal reception area and a plush drawing room that has sink-into-sofas and views of the pretty gardens. I love the terrace as it feels like you’re in the middle of the countryside, not 10 minutes from the shops.
Eating and drinking
Alfresco is the more informal of the two restaurants and serves up good sustainably sourced fish and Scottish beef. The exotic plants and roman murals on walls are a wee bit naff, but there is a Mediterranean feel in the evenings when the candles come out. Vellore is the fine dining restaurant and has been awarded two AA rosettes for its food – it’s in the mansion’s grand and airy old ballroom and it’s advisable to book ahead. I felt like I should have been chomping on a cigar in the wood panelled Colonnade Bar, but my favourite little hideaway is the tiny Rotunda Bar; an intimate alcove that only seats four people.
As the name suggests, the hotel has a cracking spa within the grounds. It’s all candlelit hallways and dark, but not gloomy, relaxation rooms with thick leather recliners... just be careful not to stick to them if you’ve had treatments in one of the seven special rooms. One treatment room is specially designed for couples or disabled guests to use and there’s also a nifty little nail spa.
As well as a gym and dinky, but delightful, indoor and outdoor (heated) pools, there’s also a thermal suite in the spa. Decorated in biscuit brown tiles, the suite has the usual suspects of sauna and steam rooms, but these include a rock sauna, aroma steam room, infra-red cabin and a salt-infusion room – which left me wondering if they were planning to cook me afterwards. An ice room contains a giant slushee style pile of ice for cooling off.
Guests are greeted by the smartly-dressed concierge team inside the reception area and a bank of porters waiting to take your bags.
Who stays there
Conference facilities mean it is popular with business guests in the week, but it’s also a hit on weekends with people holding weddings, international leisure travellers and upmarket coach parties. Brits come here to combine city and spa breaks.
Room price includes access to the spa. Look out for seasonal offers, spa and dining packages. On-site parking costs £5 per stay.
- Business Centre
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
- Mature travellers
- Escaping the crowds
- Special occasions
Pros & Cons
- Beautiful gardens
- Tranquil spa
- Smaller rooms