Do you ever imagine the perfect English hotel? Would you be welcomed in by a doorman who absolutely insists on taking the load and pain of your baggage – even your handbag? How about the room? Immaculate contemporary furnishings cleverly mingled within the historic building where all the Georgian atmosphere and features have been retained and celebrated. How about a secret hotel garden with daffodils and forget-me-nots sprouting haphazardly out of the borders and edging their way into the grass. And the clientele? Sophisticated, well-heeled, smiling. And finally the well-trained staff, presented in smart outfits, helpful and yet not too intrusive?
The Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath is all this and more. Set to the centre of the infamous and stunning Royal Crescent, this hotel is a chic city retreat looking over the historic city of Bath. The main hotel is based in one of the Georgian residences that makes up the Royal Crescent – identified by the doormen standing outside (yes the ones that absolutely insisted on whisking ALL my bags away – wonderful). Inside the main building you’ll find classic decor with a grandfather clock and traditional furniture, all pristine, all beautifully elegant with sweet-scented fresh-cut flowers adorning every surface. The reception area is hidden away, far from the focal point, you feel like you are being welcomed into a friend’s home from another age rather than entering a hotel.
The magic of this hotel is clearly in part the wonderful rooms, but to reach our suite we were led out of the back of the main building and across the most delightful garden. Absolutely bursting with colour, this secret garden extends beyond the back of the hotel to include stunning clockhouses with further rooms, suites, the restaurant, bar and spa. Pretty flowering trees and plants battle their way to fill every pot and border. Dotted between the plants and perched on the lawn are numerous wooden tables and chairs with parasols and a stylish clientele reading their papers whilst sipping a cup of tea in the sunshine. At the end of the garden you have the spa to your left and in front of you the restaurant and bar spill out onto the paving and grass. Looking down on this perfectly formed English country garden in the heart of Bath are a number of suites with large private balconies.
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Our suite, the Nelson, was reached by walking into one of these outer buildings and up an impressive spherical staircase. It was decorated in the hues of greys and blues with nautical paintings sporting Nelson and other historical figures of the age adorning the walls. It welcomed you in with thick drapes, luxurious carpets and slatted shutters. The room was split into two, with a sitting area opposite a traditional fireplace and bookshelves. Double doors opened out on to an extensive terrace with 4 seats, a large wooden table and parasol – very private but with wonderful views across the garden. The bedroom was set behind the living area and was designed in much darker tones offset by crisp white bedding. An additional thick velvety curtain separated the living and bedroom area for extra privacy and adding to the luxurious feel of the room.
Bar and Restaurant
On your way across the expansive hallway which lead to our room, you find the stylish bar to your right. When the sun is out the bar’s patio doors are opened wide to enable alfresco afternoon or evening drinks. The decor is again hues of bluey grey and it’s stylish look makes it worthy of slipping on a nice pair of heels. To the other side of the hall is the fine dining restaurant which again is decorated in sophisticated greys and displayed vases full of purple irises when we were staying. I chose to spend the initial part of my evening in the bar. Frankly I could have spent the whole evening there. Muted music, dimmed lighting, lovely canapés and attentive staff all contributed to the inviting atmosphere.
After a couple of drinks, the staff ushered me across the black slate hallway, once again whisking my paraphernalia in from the bar without me having to lift a finger. After this nimble table switch I was seated in the equally beautiful restaurant. The chef here has the magic touch. Not only was his food excellent it was also exciting – a rare trick indeed, each dish and pallet cleanser in-between were a mixture of interesting textures and flavours that worked so well together. And the pudding – I often find that even the best restaurants are incapable of producing a decent desert. There are no such worries here. The deserts are the perfect mix of sweet and sour, crunch and cream. Oh and the desert wine…. I simply wanted to bathe in this sweet but-not-too-sweet French tipple that tasted like it was made only to partner my chocolate indulgence.
After the evening meal breakfast seemed excessive, but certainly didn’t disappoint. It was first class and served by lovely staff. The menu varied enough to pull anyone slightly inclined, away from the Traditional English. To top it all a decent cup of coffee was served – not something to be taken for granted even at the best five-star establishments.
I had a facial at the small but perfectly formed Spa & Bath House in the secret garden. A particular highlight is a miniature but immaculate pool offset by natural woods, bamboo and slate and with big barrels of inviting warm water to relax in. The facial I chose was by ESPA and having suffered the winter, my skin was feeling somewhat grey. This facial gave me real results. My skin honestly felt plumped, rejuvenated and healthy and I would happily book back in for some more rejuvenation on future visits.
How about Bath? The centre is a very short stroll down the hill with its pretty main street, river and the Roman Baths themselves, but I will be honest with you, once I was welcomed through the doors of this gem of a hotel, I had no inclination to leave. I could have spent many days just enjoying the birdsong in the garden and nights at the bar and restaurant.
I have been searching for the perfect English hotel for lazy weekends, one that I can go to and be guaranteed a wonderful stay. The Royal Crescent is that hotel. I could hardly bear to leave the Nelson suite or the staff that catered to literally every need I had, the magical secret garden and wonderful food… I honestly have to say this is one of my favourite hotels. So if you do decide to visit, look out for me sipping a cup of tea or a beer in the garden. Now I have discovered the loveliness of the Royal Crescent, it will absolutely be my weekend hideaway of choice.
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