It’s the little things that make a stay at a hotel isn’t it? Things you can’t get at home such as underfloor lighting that comes on when you walk, pillow mist left on your bed to help lull you to sleep, white fluffy towels that seem to magically replenish whenever you leave the room, a little bottle of complementary port for those partial to a pre-aperitif drink, and breakfast in bed delivered at the last minute (I blame in-house sommelier Anton for that – his suggestions were too hard to resist).
The Bath Priory has these little things in abundance, though alone, they’re not enough to justify the price of a stay here (it is priced on expedia.co.uk at around £205 a night during March for two adults sharing with breakfast). Fortunately, it boasts the big guns, too. Stunning Bath stone house dating back to 1835? Check. Liberal littering of antiques worth more than most houses? Sure. Michelin-starred restaurant dishing up delectable, seasonal meals? Oh yes. Here’s a break down of its charms…
The Room / The Cavendish Master Crescent suite I was shown to was sumptuous and traditional – exactly what you’d hope for from the historic city. A series of large spaces, rather than a simply a room and bathroom, the front door opens up to a sitting room with a table laden with fruits and snacks.
Once I’d finished eating, I headed into the bedroom. The verdict? It was spacious and, due to the muted greens and beiges, instantly soothed me. I also loved the window seats from which to admire the view. Between the bedroom and bathroom was a corridor lined with storage space and, finally, a marble-clad bathroom of epic proportions that included a freestanding bath, two sinks and a dressing table. The complimentary cosmetics are courtesy of Molton Brown.
The triumph here was not only in the open spaces and opulence, but in the detail: tissues where they ought to be, an iPod dock on a cabinet and enough storage space for a luggage-heavy traveller to hide everything away (I overpack and, yes, I have sought help from my travel-savvy friends).
The Food / I should start this description with the post-bedroom/pre-dinner aperitif, for that was in itself an experience. Though the cocktail I had was delicious (something to do with Hendricks and bramble – yum), the company was really the exceptional thing: dotted around the exquisite wood-panelled drawing room were groups of diners that seemed straight out of a P.G. Wodehouse novel. I like P.G Wodehouse’s characters enormously, so that was a rather fun half hour.
Onto the serious stuff: the dinner. Dinner at the Bath Priory is, judging from the other diners who were dressed to the nines, an event. After spying truffles on the menu, I decided to stick to a la carte menu to make the most of the situation as my fondness for truffles outstripped any desire to try as much as possible.
The highlights of the meal? The truffle tagliatelle with mushrooms was indescribably good and, despite being stuffed, I didn’t leave one morsel of the crispy pear and cinnamon fritter with butterscotch sauce.
The aforementioned sommelier Anton provided a drink to complement each course; should you visit, I firmly recommend you guzzle down whatever he offers you.
On a slightly more negative note, the ambience in the dining room itself wasn’t quite up there with the other rooms in the hotel – it was a little stark and bright for my liking. I am therefore looking forward to my next visit to check out the planned bar and light eats area in the drawing room.
The Spa / You’d expect a lot in Bath on the spa front, wouldn’t you? My expectations were met: a reflexology session was extremely remedial (I suggest you book in for an hour when you arrive, it is ever such a good idea after the rigours of travel). The pool, sauna and changing area were the most modern spaces in the hotel, though this didn’t jar and, besides, spa facilities ought to be as up-to-date as possible.
Location / The hotel is a fifteen-minute walk, mainly through Royal Victoria Park, from Bath’s city centre, which is a mere hour and a half from London Paddington.