Those on the hunt for a springtime citybreak in the UK should look no further than the sweeping crescents of pale honey stone, narrow streets and large imposing squares of Bath.
Nestled among the rolling hills of Somerset, the home of Roman Baths has provided the backdrop to many a period drama, among them the 1995 and 2007 versions of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, 2004’s Vanity Fair and 2008’s The Duchess, not to mention the recent Netflix smash-hit Bridgerton.
For anyone wishing to experience the delights of the ‘ton, the No.15 by GuestHouse is an excellently located, suitably glamorous place from which to explore.
Where is it?
The Grade I-listed building is situated on the glamorous and wonderfully central Great Pulteney Street, a 15-minute walk from the Royal Crescent and just a few minutes’ walk to the central shops and bars of Bath. Crossing the street further down from the hotel is the River Avon and there are several green spaces nearby, making this a very picturesque part of town.
The main hotel building comprises three beautiful adjoining Georgian townhouses, so the layout is charmingly higgledy-piggledy with plenty of staircases (there’s a lift to all six floors for those that need it). Inside, the décor, refreshed by Martin Hulbert, mixes aspects of classical design and period pastel pieces with an altogether kookier vibe.
A topsy-turvy Alice in Wonderland theme pervades – the keys in reception are held in a giant dolls house, as are the coffee facilities in each room. The walls are a mish-mash of patterned wallpaper and modern art; on one there’s a display of kaleidescopes, another has antique cameras, and another a miscellaneous display of ceramic pots. The glass topped tables in the bar display a strange mess of vintage jewellery beneath and an accent wall behind the bar is lined in scalloped, leather scales, fashioned to look like exotic fish. If you’re into knick-knacks and curious, you’ll be in heaven. If you’re more puritanical about your interiors, you may feel like you’ve stepped down the rabbit hole.
On each floor there’s a ‘pantry’ – a small room containing a dresser inspired by Georgian foodcarts stacked with complimentary snacks and treats. Jars of sweets, tea, coffee, glass bottles of juice and milk, apples and satsumas, bags of popcorn, crisps and homemade cookies all cater to any midnight snack cravings.
There are 36 bedrooms throughout the main townhouse buildings and the separate Coach House.
As the hotel is a converted townhouse, no two rooms are uniform in size and, in keeping with this, the décor of each room is different. The smallest (and most affordably priced) are the cosy attic rooms and the largest room of all is called The Hideout, a vast 55 square-metre set of rooms: a bedroom, dressing room, lounge with fireplace and a vast marble bathroom complete with a steam room and hot tub. The Hideout has its own separate access for ultimate privacy, and is particularly popular with honeymooners.
All rooms come with Dyson hairdryers, vintage record players, flat-screen TVs, 100 acres shampoo and conditioner and incredibly comfortable Hypnos Lansdowne cashmere mattress dressed with 200-thread-count Egyptian cotton linen.
If you’re in the market for living quarters Lady Whistledown would be proud of, opt for one of the rather grand 24-26 sqm Pulteney rooms, which sit on the first and second floor at the street-facing front of the townhouses and were designed by Martin Hulbert, the brains behind Chewton Glen and Coworth Park. They all come with beautiful high ceilings, period sash windows with floorlength silk curtains, marble bathrooms and large chandeliers. Some even have four-poster beds.
If you’re looking for a party pad for a larger group, look no further than the recently renovated Coachhouse, a Gothic-style outpost building built 30 years after the main hotel edificie it sits behind. With eight bedrooms featuring open-plan bathrooms (6 normal, two large), the Coachhouse can sleep 18 adults and two children and can be booked out for groups. With chic, relaxing décor and no noise concerns if you want to crank up the music, it’s perfect for a classy hen or a family get-together.
Children are welcome, as are dogs provided you’re not in one of the smaller guest rooms.
Food & drink
The hotel has one subterranean restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a bar on the ground floor which is open for drinks every day from 8-10.30 (and 11pm on Friday and Saturday) and afternoon tea seven days a week.
The restaurant is focussed on what it calls ‘Wild British’ cuisine, which largely means familiar comfort food in generous portions, but with a British twist. Think prawn cocktail, bubble and squeak, chicken pie and mac and cheese. There’s Somerset steak (courtesy of local Buxton butchers) with watercress and fresh horseradish, juicy prawns served on vast metal cake stands and lovely seasonal vegetable soups. Fruit and veg come from the local family-run grocer Lovejoys, and bread and baked treats are biked over from the city’s beloved Bertinet Bakery. The chef will happily make a picnic for lunch should you wish to go exploring Bath’s lovely green spaces.
Breakfast is a la carte and features a strong list of all the usuals. The crumpets with homemade Marmite butter are delicious, and guaranteed to cure all hangovers.
The pastel-hued No.15 bar (open from 8am to 10.30pm Sunday to Thursday, 8am to 11pm on Friday and Saturday), is a sedate and relaxing space to drink, if lacking a little in atmosphere. The martini was good, despite the fact the barwoman admitted it was the first time she’d ever made one, but the bar was empty on both Friday and Saturday night when we visited. If you’re looking for a vibe, best to stroll out to much-loved Beckford Bottle Shop (booking advisable) or Dos Dedos, a Mexican bar just down the street from Beckford where the margaritas are as lethal as they are moreish.
The subterranean spa is whitewashed space set in stone vaults below the hotel. There are six treatment rooms, one of which comes with a giant copper bath for couples to share a dip before they enjoy a couples massage and facial. Most importantly, the spa therapists are professional and really know what they are doing. The deep tissue massage was one of the best I have had in a long time. All products are vegan, organic and Soil Association-certified.
The direct train from Paddington takes an hour and twenty minutes. The hotel is a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute cab from the station – the walk is pleasant if you’re travelling light. The hotel offers a station luggage pick-up service free of charge. So if you arrive and want to head straight off exploring, one of the hotel staff can meet you at the station and swap your luggage for a map of the city and an umbrella (should you need it).
Drivers can pay for parking in one of the hotel’s spaces at the rear of the building.
Room rates start from £162 on a room-only basis. Pulteney rooms start at £270. Coach House rooms start from £195 on a room only basis, or £1700 for a party pad takeover of the entire Coach House. guesthousehotels.co.uk