English country house hotels are wonderful, but it can be a challenge to get to them from the capital; and they can be teeming with families at weekends. LUX Managing Editor Serena Hamilton experiences the best of both worlds with a midweek break to the Royal Crescent, a hotel in the historic city of Bath with a country feel – and just over an hour in a first class carriage from London’s Paddington Station (and the Heathrow Express train)
Finding a hotel that’s not a million miles from London for a mid-week break isn’t as easy you’d think. Whilst there are a lot of beautiful hotels in the UK, many of them are hidden deep in the countryside so that when you arrive at the train station you still have to travel to get there, which is a big deal when you’re only going away for a couple of nights.
The Royal Crescent is located right in the heart of Bath – from door to door it took us just over two hours. Spread across two tall, columned Georgian townhouses, the hotel is immediately striking and hides a beautiful, pristine garden dotted with statues and benches tucked into secluded corners – perfect for long, lazy afternoons reading in the low dappled sunlight. The buildings themselves are steeped in history and much has been done to preserve the ancient grandeur; think sweeping staircases, classical busts, antique furnishings, chandeliers, and exquisite oil paintings.
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We stayed in one of the spacious Master Bedrooms which featured a huge marble bathroom, and its own elegantly decorated living area, which was especially useful as we needed to do some work, but with staggering views over the city, it was a very pleasant and relaxing place to do so. We loved the bright interiors, which felt decadent and luxurious without being stuffy or overdone.
Dinner at The Dower House restaurant was a real treat with tables overlooking the leafy gardens or the choice to dine alfresco on warm evenings.The roasted stone bass with crispy wild mushroom, confit pink fir, brown shrimp, pistachio paste and crumb comes highly recommended as does the slow cooked duck egg to start. We were very impressed by the charming sommelier Jean-Marc Leitao who expertly guided us through the wine list. The Montagu Bar also serves food and has a lovely laid-back atmosphere. Perhaps seduced by the nostalgia of the surrounding old-age glamour, we chose prawn cocktail as one of our small plates, which turned out to be one of our favourite dishes during the stay.
The Spa & Bath House is one of the hotel’s big draws. Located opposite the main hotel, across the courtyard and gardens, it feels like an escape its own right. The main communal area includes a 12-metre indoor relaxation pool, a vitality pool with massage jets, sauna and steam room. The Royal Crescent Signature Spa Treatment, known as the ‘Hero’, was a real highlight targeting the back, face and scalp. Afterwards, guests tend to relax in the tranquil Taittinger Spa Garden where you can order drinks, snacks, afternoon tea and of course, champagne.
Whilst the hotel is extremely conveniently located – a short walk from most of the heritage sites and shopping areas – it still manages to feel secluded and serene. We returned to London, after only two nights, feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and better equipped for the week ahead.
Rates start from £330 per night (approx. $450/ €400). Book your mid-week getaway: royalcrescent.co.uk