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With a name that has ‘royal’ in, you know this hotel isn’t going to be just a run-of-the-mill sleepover. Dating back to 1775, the Royal Crescent comprises the most majestic terraced houses with the hotel – which originally opened in 1950 – at the centre.
With uninterrupted views over the River Avon and the Cotswold hills, the hotel is just a stones-throw from the city centre, meaning it’s in a great position to explore everything on foot.
We pulled up in a Peugeot and felt somewhat embarrassed among the Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars parked along the pavement. Mark, the wonderfully warm concierge, came to greet us (probably wondering if we were lost) and helped with our bags. With such a cordial welcome, we soon forgot our sense of not belonging and hot-footed it inside to check in.
The grandeur of the exterior is mirrored inside with flawlessly restored Georgian interiors but we didn’t hang about to properly take everything in. After all, following a long drive is there anything you want more than to collapse on a huge king-size bed? Our room was in the building at the back of the hotel, via the gorgeous walled gardens dotted with beautiful sculptural pieces of art and – in the middle of June – a wonderful display of blooming flowers.
What’s in the room
There aren’t many hotel rooms where you get a bedroom, bathroom, living area AND a balcony but I did say that this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill stay.
Our haven for the weekend was the The Rowlandson Suite. If we weren’t so busy exploring the city, relaxing in the spa or indulging in a drawn-out dinner, we would have spent more time in the opulent suite furnished with every home-from-home comfort you could ask for.
Massive comfy bed? Tick. Sofa to sprawl on? Tick. Bath and shower? Tick. A sun-trap balcony? Tick. Seriously, you could spend all day in the suite and want for nothing.
The hotel even arranged for two pregnancy pillows to be delivered to the room for bedtime; that’s what good night sleeps are made of.
What’s the food at the hotel like?
It wouldn’t be a five star hotel if the food wasn’t top-notch, too. David Campbell, the hotel’s executive head chef, has been at The Dower House restaurant for seven years and – in that time – has been awarded Three AA Rosettes for culinary excellence. This, of course, shows in the elegant menu which features locally-sourced seasonal produce.
We ate an assortment of flawless dishes including a must-try salmon starter (served with lobster, asparagus and lobster mayonnaise), plus a lamb main comprising a smoky barbecued rump and slow-cooked neck fillet sitting alongside charred cucumber and hot feta.
Service was a little stuffy at times; lots of (what I believe to be) unnecessary faffing about and, on one occasion, I was called (insert shocked face) ‘my lady’!
And for breakfast, the next day?
First of all, we took advantage of the room service and ordered tea to enjoy on the sunny balcony…Our new friend seemed to take pleasure in the complimentary biscuits, too.
Then, as every hotel guest should, we spoiled ourselves with a three-course breakfast. The help-yourself buffet had every pleasurable breakfast item you could ask for; flaky pastries, fresh berries, thick creamy yogurt, continental options, homemade granola; the opportunities were endless.
Following an abundance of the above, and two really good barista-style coffees, we had a satisfyingly-good full English made up of top-quality components including Wiltshire Farm dry-cured smoked bacon, Stornoway black pudding and perfectly poached Clarence Court eggs.
Some locally-made yogurts with fruit compote completed the feast. Thankfully, even with babies on board, we had room to fit that all in!
Having just gone through a big renovation, the spa – set in a converted coach house – has a relaxation pool, Himalayan salt-infused sauna, blossom steam room and a gorgeous garden for post-treatment relaxation.
On the first day of our visit to Bath, we followed the throngs of tourists to the Thermae Bath Spa but in hindsight we should have avoided the crowds; we would have had a significantly more relaxing and peaceful time at the hotel spa.
We both indulged in a treatment during our visit to the spa; a full-body antenatal massage. The gentle, sumptuous massage was divine and much needed after the previous day pounding the streets of Bath. The only downside to the treatment was my therapist wanted to chat the whole way through, even with my monosyllabic answers! My friend said she was blessed with silence for her massage; I was very envious.
What else is there to do in Bath?
Just a 10-minute walk away, you’ll find the beautiful cobbled city centre where there’s so much to do and see. Shopping is excellent and there are lots of places to eat and drink, too.
We had a terrific lunch at Noya’s Kitchen, a small Vietnamese restaurant with a menu so mouthwatering you’ll want to order it all. We pretty much did just that, sharing various salads and sides to make a huge spread for two.
After spending the afternoon at the much-touted Thermae Spa (see comments above) we didn’t have time to explore further. However, if time is on your side, the Roman Baths came highly-recommended.
What’s the damage
There’s no denying that a stay at the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa would be best suited to a special occasion or must-needed getaway. The lap of luxury doesn’t come cheap with double deluxe rooms starting from £330 (including breakfast).
My advice would be to really make the most of the hotel while you stay there, it’s the kind of place that you could (and should) stay at all day. Leave exploring the city for another time and use your time wisely at the hotel; order room service, take breakfast in bed, have coffee (and cocktails) in the garden, retreat to the spa, enjoy leisurely meals in the Dower House restaurant and take refuge in your room.