Where is it?

On John Wood's Royal Crescent, the Georgian period's crowning glory. Without anything as lowbrow as a sign to denote it, the hotel is halfway along.

What's it like?

The mathematically precise Grade I facade hints at propriety, but the interior is cosy, with fond reminders of Bath's finest, not least Jane Austen and the fictional Sir Percy Blakeney, the Scarlet Pimpernel. The furnishings are the real McCoy: paintings by Gainsborough and Joseph Nollekens's bust of William Pitt. A peaceful walled garden leads to the pavilion housing the bath house and restaurant.

What's its USP?

Step back in time at the best address in town.

Ambience?

More an elegant house than a hotel, the imposing drawing room and the cantilevered stone stairway beg hushed reverence, but the garden and the pavilion's informal bar give visitors ample space to relax.

Service?

As you pull up outside the hotel a doorman hastily appears for your convenience. This is the pattern: staff are present when needed. And they know their Crescent history .

Rooms?

Bay windows and pleasing views of Bath are standard throughout the hotel's 45 bedrooms. All rooms feature Cliveden beds, writing-desks and Jane Austen novels. Visitors are welcomed with lilies and a foppish teddy bear. Double rooms from £220 per night.

Food?

If the piped classical music in Pimpernel's heightens expectations of traditional fare, the menu soon transports you to more exotic climes. Szechuan-spiced goose foie gras (£14) , seared scallops with Bombay potato and onion bhaji (£19.95).

Clientele?

Leisure-seekers with a sense of place, overseas guests following the London-Bath-Oxford triangle, and well-to-do members of the hotel's Royal Crescent Club.

Things to do?

Bath celebrates the bicentenary of Jane Austen's stay in the city with a festival from 28-30 September. For details, contact the Jane Austen Centre (01225 443000; www.janeausten. co.uk). Within the hotel's confines there is the 37C pool, wet and dry heat karahafus, teak tubs, and treatment packages.

Address?

The Royal Crescent Hotel, 16 Royal Crescent, Bath, BA1 2LS (01225 823333; www.royalcrescent.co.uk).

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