THE GAINSBOROUGH BATH SPA
BEST FOR: A SOPHISTICATED GIRLS’ WEEKEND AWAY – THE TWIN BEDROOMS ARE MASSIVE AND BATH ALIVE WITH FANTASTIC SHOPPING
NOT FOR: LITTLE ONES. IT’S ALL RATHER GROWN-UP
A Georgian beauty in honey-hued Bath with seriously good pampering literally ‘on tap’. The ‘spa village’ is the big thing here – and it’s a pretty fabulous show. A wondrous water wonderland built over its own source of piping hot thermal waters from the Hetling Spring, one of the city’s three famous hot springs discovered in Roman times. Occupying two Grade-II listed buildings with a handsome buttery-stone Palladian façade, this good-looking hotel wows from every corner. Climb the broad sweeping staircase to the 99 gloriously light-filled rooms and suites. Crisp, elegant and immensely comfortable, it’s all incredibly smart in a palette of duck-egg blue, muted greys and soft browns. The sun streams in through the tall sash windows, lighting up the high ceilings, gargantuan beds (complete with Egyptian cotton sheets) and marble bathrooms. There are lovely little touches, too, with a Roberts Radio, Asprey bathroom goodies and a goodnight poem (Wordsworth’s To Sleep) alongside a sprig of lavender on your pillow. Plump for one of the three spa rooms with the three-tapped roll-top baths – one cold, one hot and one spouting out your own private supply of thermal waters. How cool.
Go to the ‘Bath House’ for the all-singing thermal waters affair. Bathed in natural light from the sparkling glass atrium four floors above, it’s a smashing space with columns, mosaics and fountains. Begin at the apothecary with a personalised aromatherapy consultation. Tired? Stressed? A pouch of scented bath salts will be whipped up to sort you out in a jiffy. Then it’s time to ‘take the waters’ using the ‘bath circuit’ – a ritualised tour, dipping in and out of thermal pools, saunas and ice chambers. There’s a stone lion’s head which spits ice through its mouth for you to rub on your body – blindingly cold but great for keeping the blood moving. However, most exciting are the little cups of thick spiced liquid melted chocolate (a Georgian treat) just beside the pools – gleefully surrender to temptation and go back for, at least, seconds, thirds. And don’t feel guilty – the 42 minerals in the thermal waters have too many medical benefits to count: improved circulation (the calcium and sodium bicarbonate cause the hydrostatic pressure within the body to rise which keeps your heart pumping plus other vital organs healthy and strong), solves skin problems (the water’s high silica and sulphur content relieves eczema and psoriasis) and reduces stress with the heat relaxing tense muscles and relieving joint pain.
Bath circuit complete, splash out on one of the heavenly treatments. All the classics are here (ask for therapist Kabir) or be adventurous with one of the aquatic body therapies (opt for aqausana – a combination of yoga, stretching and gentle tai chi in one of the thermal pools). Zone out afterwards on the relaxation terrace.
Food hits the spot, too, under the guidance of German Michelin-star chef, Johann Lafer. He’s hot on a ‘dining without borders’ philosophy which uses fresh and locally sourced produce combined with Asian flavours. Tuck into ‘Roast rack of Wiltshire lamb with Szechuan pepper crust, celeriac, aspragus and blood orange’, ‘Velvety lobster bisque’ and ‘Half a Cornish lobster with grilled watermelon, quinoa and yuzu’ before rounding off with a good solid West Country cheese board. End the evening by hunkering down beside a roaring fire in the Canvas Room or continue the party in The Gainsborough Bar which serves every cocktail you could possibly want.
This is a new opening which has pulled out all the stops – and it has worked. The Gainsborough Bath Spa ticks all the boxes: location, luxury, food and a socking great spa. The Romans would be proud.
CONTACT: Tel: +44 (0) 1225 358 888, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PRICE: from £285 on a room-only basis
NEAREST TRAIN STATION: Bath
DRIVING DISTANCE FROM LONDON: 115 miles
First-Hand Visit Write-Up By: Harriet Compston