I’ve been lucky enough to stay in a few amazing places but none have been quite so hard to leave as the Royal Crescent Hotel
in Bath. One minute amidst glorious comfort, that subtle, cloistered away luxury, the kind where you are utterly indulged almost without noticing it; the next moment the cold shock of real life.
The Royal Crescent Hotel stands out from the rest partly for that home from home feeling – albeit if your home was built by a famous architect 250 years ago and was furnished in a graceful blend of old and new (heavenly beds and powerful showers meet 17th
century tallboys and highly polished armoires).
You arrive in the gorgeous sweep of cream coloured crescent to a valet taking your bags and another taking care of your car, by now feeling a little bit like Jane Austen and a lot more like a rock star.
The Royal Crescent Hotel takes over two adjacent mid terrace houses and has a full acre of garden at the back (the new bucket list spot for afternoon tea).
This famous Georgian crescent is celebrating its 250th
anniversary. It was designed and built by architect John Wood with the ambition of creating the architecture of a grand country estate which could be rented out as houses and apartments to the wealthy, for their annual pilgrimage to dance, socialise and take the famous thermal waters.
From the outset the hotel feels like a haven, one you simply won’t want to leave. Classical music drifts from the library, in the sunshine-y garden people are lingering over tea and cake. There’s a spa here and couples wander past us in thick towelling dressing gowns in a seemingly blissed out haze (more of which later).
We stayed in the Royal Crescent Suite with its beautiful view looking over the green and the honey coloured city. Both the sitting room and bedroom have that wonderful old school feel –silk armchairs, velvet sofas, marble chess pieces, a vase of flowers. Think 1950s Elizabeth Taylor and you’re halfway there. Next time silk pyjamas.
They do know how to do things here. I love the fan of magazines beside the bed and the platter of fresh fruit which waits for us. I love that when you order a pot of tea it comes with freshly baked pastel coloured macaroons and that the bathroom is full of Floris bath oils and soaps (what else?).
To mark the 250th
anniversary the Royal Crescent Hotel has a signature RC250 massage and a five course tasting menu.
Let’s start with the massage – one and a half hours of it – which was so blissful and indulgent I pretty much lost my mind. Featuring a specially formulated Elemental Herbology oil warmed to just the right temperature, hot stones, warm flannels and a therapist with a seriously talented pair of hands, You might think an hour and a half would drag, not so. It was a wrench when the massage was finally over and I floated into the changing rooms having forgotten where my clothes were, what my locker number was and pretty much my own name. (Spa staff are used to it, I think, and solved the problem effortlessly).
The Royal Crescent Hotel was bought by the Topland Group a few years ago and millions were spent bringing it into the 21st
century. You notice this in the bar and dining room which have a much more contemporary feel. I do love a tasting menu – no agonising over what to choose, no feeling disgruntled that your partner is better at ordering – and this one was especially good. We began with tiny bowls of cucumber soup and Earl Grey cured salmon (delicious) before moving onto Bath chaps (pig cheeks, far more). The menu features tartar of mackerel before a last meal status Salt Marsh lamb, gooseberry and elderflower crumble and Eve’s pudding. It’s a slow and leisurely affair meant to be enjoyed over several hours perhaps with a glass or two of Taittinger champagne and some beautifully matched wine. The menu like the massage really showcase what the Royal Crescent Hotel experience is about – you come here for unhurried indulgence, you leave feeling restored. There is just one problem with a visit here and that’s the swoop of despair upon departure. Brace yourself and book in for a minimum of two nights. And don’t even think of venturing into town.