Sometimes DRIVING CAN BE JUST TOO MUCH. Much of Bath’s city centre, for example, is one way traffic and, anyway, trains run direct, at least every half hour from London Paddington. It takes 80 minutes to Bath.
Now to be honest, staying in a 500-year medical establishment is not everyone’s glass of ale but the three-bedroom TOWNHOUSE at YTL-owned and managed The Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel is sensational. YTL also manages the city’s UNESCO-recognized thermae baths: YTL’s offices, today, were once the leper hospital, five minutes’ walk away from the baths, and Townhouse was the doctor’s house, adjacent to the hospital. THE MAIN HOTEL WAS ALSO ONCE A HOSPITAL, and later, a school. The hotel’s 99 Champalimaud-designed bedrooms are sleek cool, taupe and champagne. Hotel GM is Irish globalist Marc Mac Closkey.
Girlahead loves the STANDALONE TOWNHOUSE – warning, since earlier Elizabethans did not have elevators, make sure everyone can manage 31 stairs to the master bedroom (collage above), or a further 20 to the other two bedrooms, a feat that fortunately negates heading to the hotel’s well-equipped 24/7 Technogym. Townhouse’s remarkably well-equipped kitchen comes with DeLonghi, Neff and Sabatier, and a powder-pink Smeg: a bottle of Billicart Salmon supplements Bombay Sapphire and Glenlivet 1924, all included. There is a Jane Austen library, hardback of course, in the formal withdrawing room. THE MASTER BEDROOM IS A DREAM OF PALEST TEAL AND SILVER, with a jewelled over-bed canopy, a crystal chandelier and a metal-lined rolltop bathtub that is, rare for its ilk, quite easy to get in and out of.
Throughout Townhouse, indeed, the word ‘bath’ comes continually to mind. Admire framed Victorian etchings of different styles of Doulton’s Improved Hooded Baths. ASK ABOUT INCIDENTALS ASSOCIATED WITH BATH, say Bath Chaps, well-bried lower jowls, originally from Gloucester black-spot pigs. Think Bath Oliver biscuits, concocted by physician William Oliver around 1750. For best sugar-topped Bath Buns, head today for Sally Lunn’s, three minutes away. Bath Chairs are sensibly off-menu, especially with the cobbles here around town.
Recommendations? Admire tourist sights and retail brands that honestly combine London’s Bond Street with Borough Market. Revel in the hotel’s thermal pools – they have swimgear if you have left the Vilebrequins behind – and back at Townhouse, get more exercise by climbing those stairs, yet again, while changing for The Ivy Bath Brasserie’s fish and chips. Sensibly, with so much foodie fare immediately around, the hotel has no main-meal restaurant, but, also sensibly, it has a darned good bar.
And for a day-trip, ask Magical Marc to arrange transport to The Newt, under an hour away: explore England’s best 21st century gardens and some of the estate’s 800-total acres. And do listen, here, to The Newt’s Co-Owner and overall Designer Karen Roos: