Smack bang in the middle of Bath’s most prestigious address, on the famous golden arc of the Georgian Royal Crescent overlooking Royal Victoria Park.
Bedrooms are spread over the main house and several converted coach houses in the garden, so check when you book where the room is, as it will affect what view you do or don’t have. All rooms have five-star touches: complimentary internet, mineral water, fresh flowers and magazines and, although the decor is 18th century, there are also TVs and DVD players. Classic rooms are the smallest type and are mainly in the coach houses. One step up are the deluxe rooms, which are bigger with separate sitting areas, next are classic suites, which have drawing rooms; some have four-poster beds such as the John Wood suite, or balconies like the Rowlandson and Lord Nelson suites.
If my Lotto numbers ever come up, I will head straight for the girlie romantic Duke of York master suite in the main mansion – it’s a colossal room with floor-to-ceiling windows giving a view out of the Royal Crescent across Bath, an ornate high ceiling, open fireplace and Victorian free standing bath. Perfect for wedding nights or proposals (start hinting now girls).
My favourite part of the hotel is the hidden garden, which has grand trees, fragrant flowers, ‘secret’ sections and a herb garden that is used by the kitchen. Guests wait to check in inside the Drawing Room; a grand room that looks out into the crescent and is decorated in regal purples and greens with fringed drapes and intellectual reading matter, such as The Times and Harper’s Bazaar, strewn across the coffee tables. Next door is the cosy 18th century style library, where you can have Afternoon Tea –but be careful you don’t walk into the lift by mistake as I did (in my defence it is decorated with photos of rows of books). Between April and October guests can book Champagne or Afternoon Tea cruises along the River Avon onboard Lady Sophina, the hotel's very own restored 20s river boat.
Eating and drinking
Situated in one of the converted stables, The Dower House has been awarded two AA rosettes for its British food with Mediterranean and Asian influences. More modern that the other parts of the hotel, the restaurant is light and airy with large windows overlooking the garden and a wall of glass-covered grass illustrations, green and brown velvet striped banquettes and a light olive green colour scheme. The bar has a retro 80s feel with metallics, purples and giant 3D ammonites on the walls. It’s the best place to get an Afternoon Tea heaped high with dainty sandwiches, miniature cakes and the famous Bath Bun (I really don’t get the appeal of those). Most impressive is the extensive tea menu – try the lemongrass, peppermint and lavender; it sounds like potpourri but it tastes delicious.
The Bath House’s brightly patterned glass-walled reception doesn’t fully prepare you for the indulgent spa area – inside the converted coach house there’s a monasterial air when you enter the warm bath house. Wooden karahafus (cabins) containing steam and sauna rooms surround a steaming pool and barrels of cold plunge water. You wouldn’t want to attempt too much swimming in the pool as it’s heated to be a soaking area, but lying back in it with the sunlight coming in through peaked windows there's such a relaxing and reverent atmosphere that you automatically start whispering. There’s also a small gym area, just in case you get a guilt complex after the Afternoon Tea.
I was welcomed at the door by a smartly-dressed doorman who was busy taking luggage and directing the free valet parking. Inside the chequered tiled hallway is a concierge desk and further into the hall is a discreet reception desk – guests are ushered into the drawing room for check in and check out. Service is five-star, but the effort is made to make it welcoming rather than intimidating.
Who stays there
Mixture of American, Russian and international guests as well as Brits celebrating special occasions, or even popping the question. Visitors are mainly here for a special treat.
Spa packages are available, as are special Christmas and New Year deals.
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Pets Allowed
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
- Culture vultures
- Special occasions
- Design and architecture
Pros & Cons
- Wow factor of master suites
- Location, location, location
- Period decor not everyone’s cup of tea
- Expensive: this is special treat territory