Hotel insider: The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, Bath, England
It’s four years since I last visited The Royal Crescent. At that point, the owners had just gone into receivership, and both I and the hotel felt unloved. In the intervening period, it has been bought, had a massive refurbishment and new management put in place. And what a difference. The doorman insists on parking the car for us; the general manager welcomes us personally.
Bath is one of the most-visited cities in the United Kingdom. It’s a 90-minute train ride from London Paddington station, which can be accessed via the Heathrow rail link. Built by John Wood in 1774, The Crescent is the most famous example of Georgian architecture anywhere, and the hotel is formed from No 15 and 16, and five former coach and mews houses across the garden.
American tourists with teenage children, honeymooners, and lovers of Bath come and go, most staying for two nights a time. Afternoon tea (£32 [Dh179]) has recently been introduced, allowing locals to enjoy a taste of the city’s gentle, gentile past. The spa is built into one of the former coach houses, with a small candlelit pool. Suitably top-class therapists make the hotel a popular attraction for spa packages.
The best rooms are in the main house, and many of these are named after famous 18th-century figures connected to Bath. We stay in the Royal Crescent Suite. The four-poster bed is wide and high, the sitting room has a comfy sofa and antique furniture.
Hoteliers say that the best hotels need three things – location, location and good management. The Royal Crescent boasts one of the finest locations in the UK, and now it appears to have good management. “We are standing at the bottom of Everest, and we are going to climb it,” says the manager, who adds that his mission is to bring the hotel back onto the lists of the world’s top 100 hotels. It’s a message he seems to have communicated to the staff.
The Dower House is a serious restaurant under the stewardship of its head chef David Campbell. His eight-course taster menu, priced at £72 (Dh403), is superb and surprisingly light. First up is rosemary cream, apple and shallot; followed by mushroom tea, thyme gnocchi, globe artichoke and shaved Parmesan. Course three is trout; four, duck egg; five, fallow deer with smoked potato, honey-spiced fig, chestnuts and chocolate; six, beetroot with wet walnuts and goat’s curd. Next comes his signature PBJ (peanut better, raspberry and jelly). And the finale is a delicious mandarin cheesecake, ginger nut crumb and mandarin sorbet. Many of the dishes are also on the à la carte menu, and for lighter eats, there’s a bar menu. Breakfast is a buffet and freshly cooked eggs.
The scent of bergamot and jasmine in the spa.
It rained all day. And to get to the restaurant and spa, you have to cross the garden.
The perfect hotel for those who want a real sense of Bath’s Georgian past.
The bottom line
Double rooms at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa (www.royalcrescent.co.uk) cost from £265 (Dh1,481) per night, including breakfast and taxes. A one-night spa break for two people, with lunch and an hour’s treatment each, is £400 (Dh2,236), including taxes.
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Published: October 1, 2015 04:00 AM