Where period charm meets contemporary living.
Set amongst the beautiful rolling countryside of the south west, the bustling cosmopolitan city of Bath boomed in the 18th century as it became a favourite retreat for high society. At the height of the season it was estimated that Bath could accommodate some 12,000 visitors, who came to drink the healing waters, enjoy the theatre, stroll through pleasure gardens, and gossip on the wide promenades.
As the nobility flocked and fashionable life boomed, so did the architecture. On the 19th May, the first foundation stone for the Royal Crescent was laid, and it would take a further eight years for John Wood the Younger’s ambitious scheme to create a wide, curving row of elegant Palladian houses to be completed.
These days, Bath’s grandiose Georgian architecture has not lost its lustre, and with the Royal Crescent celebrating its 250th anniversary, it seems fitting to pay the hotel at the heart this World Heritage site a visit.
After trundling over the cobblestones we were met outside the hotel by smartly dressed staff, who immediately unloaded our luggage and parked the car (the free valet parking is a major perk in Bath, where parking is an expensive hassle). We were immediately struck by how helpful and welcoming all the staff were – not to mention the nattiness of their uniforms.
Stepping over the threshold was like stepping back in time. The Royal Crescent Hotel is a beautiful and elegant reminder of what Bath was like at the height of its popularity as a spa town. The interiors exude a refined Georgian ambience with lavish soft furnishings, stuccoed high ceilings, walls decorated with oil paintings, classical busts and glittering chandeliers.
Spread over two townhouses, the hotel offers 45 individually-designed suites and rooms. We wound our way up the curvaceous staircase to the John Wood suite to find a pretty hand-written name card on our door. The suite itself not only boasted a lovely marble bathroom, an elegant fireplace and a stunning view over the Crescent lawns but – the pièce de résistance for me – a handsome four poster bed, plush with cushions and throws.
I felt instantly at home surrounded by the architectural drawings that adorned the walls, and the old books on the coffee table. I was also grateful for the Nespresso machine (they’re found in all the suites) which satisfied my caffeine fix without the need to call room service.
Behind the Georgian façade lies The Royal Cresecent Hotel’s hidden acre of garden with its roses, lavender-lined paths, mature trees and shrubs. Due to the good weather, the lawn was smattered with wooden tables and chairs, so we chose to relax and enjoy the balmy summer’s evening with a glass of champagne in hand before dinner.
On the far side of the garden is the tranquility spa and the award-winning restaurant, The Dower House (but I’ll come to that later). The Spa & Bath House was a dreamy place of peace and quiet, and I was so relaxed I fell asleep during the Royal Crescent Signature treatment, which was 90 minutes of heaven: a back exfoliation, a hot stone back massage, a facial and scalp massage using the natural skincare brand, Elemental Herbology. After I came round, a quick steam and a dip in the refreshing Relaxation pool overlooking the garden revived my enthusiasm for the outside world.
That night, we dined at the hotel’s own Dower House. After much greed-induced indecision we chose to go for the seasonal à la carte dinner menu over the tasting menu. The roast scallops with heritage tomatoes, tomato consommé, smoked eel, avocado and marjoram made a fresh, light and elegant starter and my choice of main – salt marsh lamb rump and neck with garden peas, bacon, mint sauce and lamb broth was hearty and again, beautifully presented.
Charming Jean-Marc Leitao, the Head Sommelier at the Royal Crescent Hotel, impressed us with his extensive knowledge of the fine wines on offer (he chose for us a delicious bottle of 2015 Chateau Val Joanis Luberon). This is a man who lives and loves his job: we loved his amusing tale of taking over the wine cellar, but refusing to put his name to it until each bottle within had been hand-picked by him.
The following morning we feasted on an equally lavish breakfast in the sanctity of the gardens – the beguiling rus in urbe of the hotel – pondering on the genteel world of Georgian elegance and high society within this beautiful city.
David Garrick once said, ‘In Bath I do this and I do that, and I do nothing, and I go here and go there and go nowhere. Such is ye life of Bath and the effects of this place that I forget my cares and everything.’
We certainly did at the Royal Crescent Hotel.
For further information or to book, please telephone 01225 823 333 or visit www.royalcrescent.co.uk
When in Bath…
Visit the Roman Baths – one of the finest historic sites in Northern Europe. Try the natural spa water at the end of your visit.
If you’re inspired to take a dip after seeing how the Romans kicked back, visit the Thermae Bath Spa and enjoy a soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters. Be sure to explore the rooftop pool – which boasts stunning views over the city and surrounding hills – and their brand new state of the art Wellness Suite which offers a Roman steam room, a Georgian steam room, an infrared sauna, ice chamber and a twinkling Celestial relaxation room. If you’re feeling indulgent, do try one of their spa treatments too – I went for the Smooth & Soothe Trilogy. Bliss!
A real find was the restaurant at the Gainsbough Bath Spa Hotel, a stone’s throw from the Thermae Bath Spa. They offer an absolutely first class lunch menu (two courses for £24.50 / three courses for £32.00), impeccably served.
2017 marks 250 years since the first foundation stone was laid.
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