JC Stays: Homewood Hotel, Bath

Luxury country house style with added quirkiness equals a perfect weekend break


It’s not often that a hotel stay gets me wondering about the person responsible for its design. But at the Homewood Hotel and Spa, just outside Bath, I was thinking about them all the time.

“What a great idea,” I thought, as I spotted the piles of books in our bedroom — you’d never run out of reading matter if you happened to hit a wet weekend, with everything there from PG Wodehouse to Bret Easton Ellis. “Thank you,” I mused, when my breakfast tea arrived in a porcelain mug, not a tiny tea cup.

And “Wow, well done,” has to be the only response when you’re having a facial and the ceiling above the spa treatment bed seems to be an upside down flower garden, the dangling blooms somehow enhancing the effect of the floral scents of the aromatic oils being massaged into your skin.

The décor generally manages to be elegant and interesting, blending modern and traditional without ever forgetting that comfort is as important as style.

And it’s quirky too, every possible space turned into a mini exhibit— whether it’s the collection of clocks of all shapes and sizes in the reception, or the 12 modern chandeliers in the dining room, or the themed red flower pictures in the lounge (I lost count), there’s something to admire and intrigue everywhere you look.

So who put such careful thought into this 21-bedroom hotel? The answer is Ian Taylor, who, with his wife Christa, is the new owner. They also own the Bird Hotel in Bath, and recently sold the city’s No 15 Great Pulteney.

Both have spa facilities, so it’s no surprise that the Taylors’ refurbishment of Homewood included expanding the small spa, although without losing any of its intimate feel.

There are two treatment rooms, a small indoor pool and a larger heated outdoor pool, along with a terrace and a hot tub which almost has views over the rolling Wiltshire hills — maybe you can see the view if you’re taller than me, but no matter, the joy of sitting in bubbling water, enjoying winter sunshine after a soothing massage and facial was more than enough of a winter treat, and I’d love to return in the summer.

The dinner menu was small, and not planned with kashrut in mind but there were two vegetarian choices, a rich mushroom pasta and a piquant caponata, both delicious. For breakfast the next morning we feasted on scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and wished we were staying for longer.

Bath was just a few miles down the road, but my daughter and I were too relaxed to go shopping, so instead we headed north to Dyrham Park, a 17th century National Trust property recently featured in the ITV adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sanditon.

Here we walked in the grounds — it’s half a mile downhill from entrance to house, but don’t fear, there’s a bus if you need it — and toured the house, with the help of the friendliest group of volunteer guides we’ve ever met, each one keen to impart information.

From there, it was back to London on the M4, refreshed and relaxed, to plan another stay at the Homewood Hotel as soon as possible.

For more ideas on things to do in Bath, check out our tips for a UK city break


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