Frankly, to come across a new luxury hotel that looks, in the nicest possible way, to have been there for ever, is always a delight – and the impression is all the greater when the gal discovers it is in fact a conversion of a gorgeous classical building that in the past has served a variety of purposes. This is the case of The Gainsborough Bath Spa, right in the centre of glorious Georgian Bath. The building had been a hospital, among other incarnations, but now, owned by YTL, who care so passionately for quality, the 99-room hotel shines.
I was shown around by YTL’s EVP, Andrew Jordan, whom I had met in Brunei a few years ago. He is as proud of what YTL, and designer Alexandra Champalimaud, have done here as if it had been his own baby, but he has been involved here for four years so has had a lot of input. He adores the stairwell, soaring up to a glass roof dome that used to allow daylight in to the operating theatre, below. He is passionate about the hotel’s own thermal Spa Village, which uses hot spring water from the city’s Thermae opposite, which YTL also now owns.
Stay here for a session in the hotel’s own spa and they recommend a Bath House Circuit, ten minutes in the warm balneo pool, five-to-ten minutes each first under a cool lymphatic hose and then an infrared or dry sauna, and next three to five minutes in the lavender ice alcove, before floating as long as you like in the thermal water. Stay here mid-week, if you are clever, and for the price of a room you get a full sized Billecart-Salmon Champagne – boxed, so you can take it away – plus a 60-minute massage, worth £120 (can you afford to stay home?).
Brian Benson, the Glaswegian who is on-site Manager, is hilarious, a great raconteur who always travels in his kilt, to excite interest. Everyone I met here, indeed, is memorable – I was most impressed by the down-to-earth chef, Dan Moon, who cooks absolutely heavenly food. After a starter of ballotine of smoked salmon I went on to grilled fillet of plaice with a butternut squash samosa, roast pumpkin and mint yoghurt. Every dish any of us had was a delight – five different one-bite bread rolls had come, warm, in a stunning wood open-top box. Oh, and we looked at the bar, with about a hundred gins, and heard that YTL is now going to do Monkey Island on the Thames near Bray, and The Glasshouse Hotel in Edinburgh. It was all so exciting I cannot wait to come back to this luxury hotel. NOW SEE ANDREW JORDAN EXPLAIN THE BAR, BELOW