Towards the end of last year I realised that I had barely seen my sister: with trips to Rwanda, Tokyo, and New York under my belt in less than eight weeks, our contact had been pretty much limited to WhatsApp and my dropping off and picking up Lettice from Holly’s doorstep. Which is ridiculous when she lives five minutes away.
Determined to schedule in some proper sister time, we took up a long-standing invitation to visit the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath.
Designed by the architect John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1774, it is considered to be one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in the United Kingdom and is a Grade I listed building. The hotel sits in the middle at number 16, and it’s easy to miss it, as all that marks the front door is a piece of carpet, two bay trees and a subtle plaque.
Arriving is a joy, as one drives onto the sweep of the crescent. And, as if by magic, a doorman appears, greeting you by name – we were asked for our registration in advance, but it’s a lovely piece of stage management, – and our car is briskly unpacked and taken off to be valet parked further down the Crescent.
The hotel has very much the feel of a (very grand) private house, with a coalfire burning in the hallway, and a beautiful drawing room to the left, where one can wait to be shown to one’s room.
The big surprise is when one walks through the house on the Crescent – two rooms wide, through a garden door and discovers that there is a glorious secret garden and a series of other buildings, all belonging to the hotel, the Spa & Bath House, the Dower House Restaurant (above), Montagu Bar, The Pavilion, and The Garden Villa.
The Pavilion houses 7 bedrooms and suites, two with their own private conservatories, and The Garden Villa is tucked away around a corner, offering complete seclusion. Also available for exclusive use, it offers two suites and two bedrooms with its own private garden.
It’s worth checking out the hotel rooms on the website in advance, as they all have something different to offer, and a variety of styles, from intimate suites under the eaves to astonishingly luxe Georgian grandeur in the main rooms overlooking the Crescent. (There are four posters in some rooms too.) Guests in the suites are guaranteed their room choice upon booking, subject to availability, and other rooms can be requested, but not guaranteed.
The view (above) towards the restaurant through the private hotel gardens, and (below) to the rear of the Crescent.
The hotel is dog-friendly – although you must inform the hotel in advance, and so we were placed in the Beau Nash Suite in the Pavillion, reached through the garden, with our own private conservatory living room, with French windows to the garden.
Staying in The Pavillion really does feel like being in a private home. There is a pretty entrance hall, and our door was just to the left, which led, in turn, to our own entrance hall.
I was staying with Holly, so we had the comfortable bedroom made up with twin beds. I particularly liked the pretty dressing table, although sadly it was no use for doing one’s makeup, as the lighting was far too low. (Both on the table, and in the room – low energy lightbulbs have a lot for which to answer.)
There was a large en-suite bathroom, with a powerful walk-in shower and lovely Floris toiletries, as well as a separate cloakroom off the spacious main entrance hall of the suite.
The separate sitting room was huge, and extremely comfortable.
Maisie particularly liked the velvet sofas.
With our bags unpacked, the first thing we did was hot foot it off to check out the spa (below).
The swimming pool, whilst compact, is just big enough for lengths, and in the morning the light floods in through the gothic arched windows. At night, it is extraordinarily atmospheric, and the thermal experience is hugely enjoyable. I spent a happy hour splashing between plunge pools, steam room, sauna and showers.
For supper we ate from the Vegetarian tasting menu of Executive Head Chef at The Dower House Restaurant, David Campbell, whose inventive and interesting food was a delight. The menu included Cep: Cep Soup, Roast Pistachio, Pickled mushroom, Wiltshire Truffle and Artichoke: Jerusalem Artichoke, Fine Beans, Toasted Pine Nuts and Walnut Vinaigrette. Although I fell at the pudding hurdle, far too full to even attempt one.
Next morning I was awoken far, far too early by Lettice jumping on my head, so I gathered up her and Maisie, and headed to the adjacent park for a morning walk. The hotel has a key to the Crescent Garden, but I was in the mood for a longer walk so we marched down the hill beneath the Crescent.
The reward was the magnificent view of the Crescent itself.
Back with two dogs, exhausted from advanced squirrel chasing, we headed to breakfast in The Dower House Restaurant. Very impressive, from the green juice to the choice of three home made granolas, via a vegetarian breakfast that even had vege bacon, absolutely a first for me in any five star hotel.
We spent the morning in Bath – it’s about a fifteen minute walk through the park to town.
The walk to and from the centre of town is particularly delightful, especially with dogs.
Arriving back again, I went for a walk around the hotel gardens, which are studded with pieces of sculpture by local artists, a pet project of the delightful hotel GM. In the summer the restaurant has a terrace for meals, and afternoon tea can be served throughout the garden, which must be charming.
Knowing that we had afternoon tea on the books, we skipped lunch which turned out to be the correct decision.
Mmmmm Bath buns.
Then it was back to the suite, for my sister to nap with the dogs in bed, and for me to tackle my ever-present email mountain from the extremely comfortable sofa in the suite’s separate living room.
Later on I ordered room service for supper, a delicious plate of local cheeses. Then off to bed.
The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, Bath, 16 Royal Crescent, Bath BA1 2LS.
Telephone: 01225 823333
Sasha Wilkins was a guest of The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa for two nights in November 2015 on a bed and breakfast basis, with one dinner and afternoon tea in The Dower House Restaurant. She paid £22 for lunch via room service, and a total of £51.65 for her stay.