Hotel Review: The Gainsborough Bath Spa, Beau St in Bath
Naturally, as a reviewer, I am expecting the best, The Gainsborough Bath Spa is a five star hotel so I guess I am looking for those things that I can bemoan; the expensive mini bar, the unforgotten ordered drink, the uninspiring menu. I tried here, I really did but I have to say The Gainsborough (a YTL Hotel) has done an impeccable job and I’m not the only one who thinks so – since it’s launch in July ’15 there are some guests who have returned at least ten times! My neighbouring diners couldn’t find anything but good to say either and they didn’t even get a chance to experience the spa – the only hotel in the UK, by the way, to have natural thermal waters in the hotel pool. So, there you have it, the mini bar is free, the service is fantastic and the food menu a treat.
It seems to be the mission of every staff member to make sure you are well and truly taken care of during your stay and to leave feeling like you’ve made some friends along the way. During a chat with the manager over a delicious bespoke cocktail in the bar, he informed me that staff are employed on passion, charisma and skill, and if the last is lacking, it can be taught. He explained that a lot of research went into the venture before the hotel opened, and I can tell – it feels like someone has visited a lot of high end hotels, taken all of the best bits and made them happen here.
During my visit I was pampered before I had even set foot in the place – Stefano, a hotel driver, came to pick my guest, Nick and I up from another hotel and was really chatty and friendly during the short drive. On arrival at the hotel, which is located right next to the Thermae Spa in the city centre, but is somehow tucked away, we were assisted with our luggage to the shiny lobby, which has a lovely aroma, cinnamon, I was told.
The manager was quick to greet us and take us to the The Canvas Room, where we were seated and served with a hot drink and nibbles. It is a very glamorous lounge and you can feel the shiny newness, helped, I’m sure by the glossy black, gold, dark blue and mirrored décor. It is really modern and stylish, which I love, and later found out that a pop up Martini bar was there that evening – great!
A nod to artist, Sir Thomas Gainsborough, the hotel sits over two Grade II listed buildings, which were built in the 19th century and has distinguished Georgian and Victorian façades. It was redesigned for the launch by New York’s Champalimaud Design, with the emphasis on elegance and vibrancy with a welcoming and social feel, and I believe this comes across very well throughout.
We were shown to our corner room, which had great views over the city and the same contemporary and classic style mix and colours that run through the rest of the hotel. Teal blue walls sat alongside long dark curtains and a cream headboard with a Far Eastern scene and a mustard patterned cushion decorated the crisp, white bed. Small black oval bedside tables held a phone and a retro style black radio, while a black desk with gold edging held our TV and welcome treats (fizz and chocolates). A black leather seat ran along the end of the bed and a cosy pale grey armchair, tan brown leather desk chair and small black and gold table completed the furniture in the room.
Down a few steps and into the light grey tiled bathroom, which had a luxurious heated floor (lovely at any time of year if you ask me), an array of Asprey toiletries lined up on the black sink unit and gloriously fluffy towels. I was thrilled to find out that the mini bar contents were complimentary (as echoed in every room), which contained soft drinks and beers, with bars of chocolate and Kettle crisps also at hand. All of the usual necessities could be found in the room such as an ironing board, safe and espresso machine.
If you want to really indulge you can opt to stay in a Bath Spa suite, which offers in room access to the healing thermal waters; no other hotel in the UK can offer that!
During my stay I was lucky enough to enjoy the wonderful Spa Village Bath, which was one of the best spa experiences I have had. I was booked in for a 90 minute ‘Ginger Renewal’ treatment and before I was plunged into total relaxation, Nick and I enjoyed the Bath House Circuit. On arrival at the spa’s receptions we were handed robes and led to the aroma bar, which taps into the British apothecary tradition. We were invited to mix and sample a small detox drink (I did not like it as much as Nick did!) before sniffing a selection of oils to suit our tastes, which were poured into a small bag of salts to be carried around with us. We were then guided to our respective changing rooms before being met on the poolside to be shown around the expansive facilities, which sit under a four storey glass atrium. With my bag of fruity salts in hand, and some extra necessities (a bottle of water, poolside flip flops all in a bag to carry around) gained in the locker, we were led around the circuit before being left to our own devices. There is no clock so you can fully relax and enjoy with the spa staff acting as your clock to fetch you for your treatment.
We made full use of the circuit starting with a dip in the 35C small thermal pool, followed by a visit to the 40C heated pool in a neighbouring room, which was a little more indulgent. We skipped the infrared sauna (my appointment time was approaching) and made for the traditional sauna before throwing a bit of ice at each other (sensibly) in the ice alcove before enjoying the steam room and finishing up with a glass of water each and a shot of cold drinking chocolate. Nick went for a dip in the large natural thermal mineral rich bath with fountain while I made my way to one of the 11 treatment rooms.
My indulgent Malaysian-inspired treatment encompassed a ginger and eucalyptus oil all over body massage as well as a scalp and foot rub. My therapist, Sarah listened to what I said about my lower back pain and did a great job – my legs, feet, arms, hands, back and stomach (not for long, I was too ticklish) were rubbed with salts before being cleansed and massaged with warm oils. I like a lighter massage and Sarah worked out my shoulder tension well offering me good advice at the end and leaving me feeling ridiculously calm and relaxed. Afterwards Sarah showed me to the relaxation terrace, which overlooks the main pool and brought me a cup of berry and acacia tea and a toffee macaron. Absolute bliss!
I very reluctantly left my cosy spot as I had dinner to prepare for at the hotel’s resident restaurant, Johann Lafer at The Gainsborough. After a cocktail in the bar – my drink was delicious and had Cointreau, vodka, orange and cherry in it – I headed to the eatery to enjoy an evening of fantastic food and wines. Food served in the restaurant is carefully presented with different ingredients offered up in interesting and creative ways. Read my full restaurant review here.
Other food available is, of course, breakfast, which includes the typical cold buffet selections of cured meats, cheeses, breads, fruits, cereals etc and a hot buffet including Full English items. There are also cooked to order items including Eggs Florentine, Benedict and Royal and a little bread tin full of toast, croissants and Danishes is brought to your table, so no fighting for the pastries. We dined on a Sunday morning so were invited to make use of the egg bar, which consisted of a young chef cooking your eggs to order at a pop up kitchen in the restaurant – a great idea but not at busy times as you do have to wait a while.
In a nutshell
Although a five star hotel with all the luxuries you can think of, along with superb service (the staff really make this place), The Gainsborough is not a stuffy hotel but one that is friendly, allowing you to enjoy yourself, laugh out loud, chat to your neighbouring diner and simply relax. I can’t wait to get back there.
Address: Beau St, Bath BA1 1QY / 01225 358888
How to get there
CrossCountry – I enjoyed a trip to Bath on the train via Cross Country Trains, which services England, Wales and Scotland. Seated in first class I was treated to some hot breakfast items chosen from a menu, a cup of coffee and a relaxing, comfortable trip in a calming atmosphere with really friendly staff on hand to help whenever required.