In the backdrop of Bath's Roman heritage, Zak Smith is swept away by the regal allure of one of the UK's most prestigious hotels.
Within the rolling hills of Gloucestershore, the iconic Royal Crescent is perched at a vantage point over the quintessentially English town. It sits as a monument to rule Britannia, grandiose, regal and host to one of the (newly coronated) finest hotels in Britain, The Royal Crescent Bath.
After a recent multi-million pound refurbishment, the Chelsea tractors have returned to Bath in style. Fleets of debonair gentlemen and well-groomed ladies enjoy the last of our Indian summer, and as the soft warm breeze and amber skies slowly dance off into the distance - there are few better destinations outside of London to relax.
As one of Gloucestershire’s most distinguished hotels, The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, Bath was recently awarded the AA’s most prestigious hotel rating, five red stars. Announced at the AA Hospitality Awards in London on 26th September 2016, the hotel is one of only five across the UK to receive the coveted accolade this year.
Jonathan Stapleton, the hotel's general manager, is chuffed by the recognition. 'We’re delighted to be one of only five hotels to receive the AA’s five red star award this year. 2016 has seen the opening of our newly revamped The Spa & Bath House as well as our beautiful walled Wedding Garden so we can’t imagine a more appropriate time to be recognised. We also have the 250th anniversary of The Royal Crescent coming up in 2017 so there’s a lot to celebrate.'
The hotel is boutique, with just 45 rooms and suites in the city's historical heart. Designed to feel like a traditional country house hotel, this is not the place to visit if you want youthful, slick modern design; fireplaces, floral patterns and pastel colours rule the roost here, luxurious if slightly vanilla. Despite the renovation, it felt like a journey into history rather than one into the future.
With the Roman Baths playing a central part in the heritage of the town, it is no surprise that the hotel houses one of the towns best spas.
The award-winning spa offers guests and members world-class facilities, including a Himalayan salt-infused sauna. Utterly relaxing, albeit hard to tell where the salt fitted into the equation, I was assured that there were many natural healing properties of salt therapy, include improving skin conditions and strengthening the immune system, and after a good shvitz, I had to agree. With the carefully chosen and locally produced brands, Bath Spa Skincare and ESPA, it is a fantastic place to unwind, particularly after a heavy night indulging Epicurean desires at The Dower House.
There was nothing dour about the food at The Dower House. Unlike the muted dining room, bold and exciting flavours monopolised each dish, a delicately soft salmon starter making way for a beautiful stone bass which sat on a fish risotto, garnished with charred leaves and vegetables. With a flamboyant sommelier providing some of the world’s best wines, it’s a dinner worth experiencing.
Having enjoyed the best of Bath, I drove off underneath an orange sky, relaxed, refreshed and taste buds satisfied, the hotel and town provided a perfect, end of summer escape from London.