Small but majestically formed, Bath is home to the UK's only natural hot springs
Small but majestically formed, Bath is home to the UK's only natural hot springs

Bath hotels: Seven of the best places to stay in the Roman city

Emily Payne selects the seven best hotels in the buzzy and classy Somerset enclave of Bath

Emily Payne
Monday 16 September 2019 11:50

Small but majestically formed, Bath is unfettered by Bristol’s swagger – this Roman city has its own vibe going on.

Yes, it’s home to mystical healing waters, the ghost of Jane Austen and awesome Georgian architecture; but look behind what you see on the postcards and you’ll find a thriving food and drink scene serving up Michelin-starred cuisine, craft beer taprooms and Saturday night supper clubs.

Back streets crammed with artists, makers, film directors and traders creating wondrous work, plus luxury hotels, will inspire and make you want to stay forever.

The Independent's hotel reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and book, but we never allow this to affect our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

Best for food: The Abbey

Neighbourhood: Central Bath

The arrival of Pierre Koffman and Marco Pierre White make The Abbey the ideal destination for foodies

The October 2018 opening of Koffmann & Mr. White’s is billed as an unpretentious brasserie from two of the UK’s most influential chefs, Pierre Koffman and Marco Pierre White. With six Michelin stars between them, it’s bound to be pretty special. The hotel itself, occupying three 18th century townhouses and acquired by KE hotels earlier this year, has 62 gorgeous rooms including family and pooch friendly options. The ArtBar is perfect for cocktails, while The Escape – a subterranean party venue – was once a Second World War air raid shelter.

Rooms from £125, B&B

Neighbourhood: Central Bath

The Gainsborough has the UK’s only natural thermal pools inside a hotel

Those Romans were onto something when they threw off their togas and slid into the soothing warm waters of the Bath spa. At The Gainsborough – the AA’s top hotel of 2017 – you’ll find the UK’s only natural thermal pools inside a hotel. New for autumn are Crystal Sound Bath sessions in the new Meditation Cave. Further bliss can be found during a watsu treatment which involves joint mobilisation in warm water. The glorious 99-roomed hotel, located in the centre of Bath, is shrouded in history, and an entire collection of Roman coins was found during its construction, which is now on display in reception.

From £285, room only

Best for cocktails: No.15 Great Pulteney

Neighbourhood: Central Bath

The Henrietta Junior Suite at No.15 Great Pulteney (Steve Russell Studios Ltd c/o No.15 Great Pulteney)

The cocktail menu is a deck of cards and don’t be surprised when your drink is served up in a lightbulb or accompanied by a raw prawn. You don’t get much more Bath than a converted Grade I Georgian townhouse, and No.15 captures the city’s fun, creative spirit too. The 40-room hotel, which opened in 2016, oozes quirk: see Cafe 15 where hundreds of apothecary bottles line the walls, and the astonishing Lost Earring chandelier, created from thousands of lone earrings. Eating here is a dream: try head chef Fraser Scott’s signature shakshuka with feta or chicken thigh, peanut, coconut and lime curry.

Rooms from £131, B&B

Best for design: The Bird

Neighbourhood: Central Bath

Art enthusiasts will find plenty of locally made artwork at The Bird

Formerly The County Hotel Bath, The Bird is now owned by Ian and Christa Taylor – patrons of No.15 Great Pulteney Street. Named with the intention of being the place locals and visitors migrate to, the already swish hotel has had a lick of paint and looks very promising indeed. You’ll find oversized chandeliers, pale pink walls, a lively all-day bar/restaurant called The Roost, and a pop-up beach bar (which will turn into a winter wonderland come the colder months). Like No.15, the aim is to fill the place with lots of eye-popping local art.

From £116, B&B

Best experience: At the Chapel

Neighbourhood: Bruton

Find foodie heaven At The Chapel (At The Chapel )

Come and worship at the altar of fresh bread. Just south of Bath in the smart town of Bruton, this heavenly set of eight minimalist bedrooms around a bakery and restaurant has been created in a Grade II-Listed, 17th-century former chapel. Whatever your religion, the tranquility is tangible, and the smell of bread wafting from the bakery each morning makes it a carb-lover's nirvana. Wine is made by hand in the vineyard and winery, "with minimal intervention" and "maximum respect for nature and the environment". All the more reason to order another bottle.

From £125 per night

Best for splashing out: The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

Neighbourhood: Central Bath

The Sir Percy Blakeney suite at the The Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa (The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa)

If you want history and glitz, the Royal Crescent is on Bath's most show-stopping street, location for many a BBC period drama. Housed in two impressive Grade I houses, the hotel offers tremendous views of the city and surrounding Cotswold hills. Each of the 45 suites and guest rooms tell a story of the famous guests who have stayed within these walls, from Amabel Wellesley-Coley to the Duke of York. Push the boat out with a Himalayan salt infused sauna, al fresco afternoon tea and bubbly at The Montagu Bar and Champagne Lounge.

Doubles from £330 including breakfast

Best for rural bliss: The Pig near Bath

Neighbourhood: Hunstrete

Looking to get away from it all? Relax into rural life at The Pig near Bath

Younger sister of the original Pig in Brockenhurst in the New Forest, this newer incarnation takes residence in a ravishing, laid-back Georgian house, surrounded by its own deer park. Sticking to the garden-to-plate formula, you can expect exquisite food all sourced from within a 25-mile radius. Rooms are beautifully undone and feature ‘larders’ full of enticing things to peck at. Check into one of the two-storey Hideaway rooms which come with wood-burning stoves, large monsoon showers and freestanding baths.

From £149 per room per night, excluding breakfast

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