Looking at my student daughter at Seder night, burnt out, stressed out as exams loomed, it was clear she desperately needed her batteries recharging. Unable to persuade her to stay at home – the library at university in Bristol was calling – and to grab a little ‘us’ time, I arranged an overnight stay at The Gainsborough Bath Spa.
Named after artist Thomas Gainsborough who lived in Bath, this is the first five-star hotel to open in the city (in 2015) in more than 30 years. An easy drive or 90-minute train journey from London, there was no stress about getting there either – especially with valet parking to whisk our car away on arrival.
The interiors are stunning – all dark walls and striking marble floors, muted blue and brown tones with pops of yellow. A wide central staircase gives it the feeling of a grand house.
High-ceilinged bedrooms come with super luxurious bathrooms (with Asprey toiletries), welcome chocolates, Nespresso machine and complimentary mini bar, while 16 foot high windows that flood the rooms with light also overlook the historic city.
A drizzly day and only 24 hours to spend didn’t leave much time or inclination for heading into Bath itself. The main aim was R&R and the hotel’s Bath Spa experience provided exactly that.
The experience began with a consultation to arrange our own personal smelling salts, reflecting how we wanted to feel (relaxed, energised etc).
We were each given our own spa bag containing flip flops and a bottle of water before changing into swimwear. The hotel spa provides direct access to natural thermal waters sourced from a private water reserve, which used to supply the city’s ancient Roman baths.
Traditional architecture such as Roman columns and mosaic tiling reflect its famous heritage, though there are modern elements too – the whole spa village is housed beneath a stunning glass roof.
We ‘took the waters’ in a series of different temperature pools to be experienced in sequence (as in Roman times), went into the two saunas (wet and dry), and the steam room before cooling down with refreshing crushed lavender ice from the ice chamber and a swim in the largest pool.
Now wonderfully relaxed, we sipped on hot chocolate on tap made to a traditional Georgian recipe, before parting company – my daughter headed off for a de-stress deep cleansing facial and I relaxed by the pool with a magazine.
Then drinks in the intimate cocktail bar, where gin is very much the thing, as we eyed up the dinner menu.
Resident chef Dan Moon’s focus on pioneering cooking techniques and theatrical presentation, plus his passion for making dining out an all-consuming experience, have resulted in his name being above the door. Dinner at Dan Moon At The Gainsborough Restaurant is a serious treat.
As we both wanted to try every single dish, it didn’t take long to decide to go for the tasting menu. We indulged in course after course of the most wonderful, imaginative food, exquisitely presented, with stunning wines to match.
Each dish and each glass was carefully explained so that we ate and drank with knowledge before climbing that wonderful staircase to fall into our comfy beds.
Breakfast the next day was equally good. I stuck to the beautifully laid-out buffet and my daughter indulged in a fabulous Eggs Royale. Then, while Georgia made her way back to Bristol, I had a heavenly 60-minute aptly-named Bliss massage in a private treatment room at the spa.
Operation De-stress complete!
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