Hotel Review: The Abbey Hotel, Bath in Somerset
The city of Bath is a wondrous place – rich in history, full of culture and endless eateries as well as host to some fine hotels in which to retire after enjoying all the city can offer.
I am lucky enough to have visited this World Heritage Site a number of times and on this occasion I stayed at The Abbey Hotel. The 4 star hotel sits in the centre of Bath, encompassing three Georgian town-houses and hosts an oh-so-stylish bar, glorious restaurant and an underground event space (formerly an air raid shelter, now ice bar themed), as well as individually designed rooms.
The distinct décor is one of the first things that will catch your eye. A pink dining room and a yellow bar may sound a bit much but I didn’t think so and it is what is produced that is more interesting to me! Step forward some expertly crafted cocktails from a long list of classics and specials and some very tasty and well put together food.
Allium is the spacious restaurant that offers up delights from the crack of dawn through to late evening. Breakfasts are bountiful and simply put, are fantastic, lunches are popular and afternoon tea looked exquisite! I sampled a few breakfasts (I loved my vegetarian breakfast and pancakes with bacon and maple syrup) and a dinner and I was very pleased with the level of food that I tasted.
For dinner I opted for the Groswell Farm beetroot terrine with goat’s cheese mousse, pickled beetroot and horseradish (£9.50) followed by the ash-rolled venison with red cabbage, celeriac, hazelnut gnocchi and compressed pear (£22.50). With my starter I enjoyed a lovely glass of Chablis – I thought it was a nice pairing for the thinly sliced, cold beetroot that had little blobs of cream cheese and a gentle amount of horseradish to offer a nice flavour but not overpower. I would have liked a few nuts to add some crunchy texture and alternative flavour but this was a good start to the evening.
The ash-rolled venison (with a glass of juicy Malbec on the side) smelled divine when it was placed in front of me. This dish had it all – melt-in-the-mouth venison on a bed of sweet, sticky cabbage and crispy, nutty croquette/gnocchi pieces. This was a delightfully rich and sumptuous plate of food – ideal for me! Nick had the very prettily displayed venison carpaccio to start followed by a rib eye steak, crispy chips and mushroom ketchup, all of which he raved about.
Desserts were definitely something to write home about – the meal just kept getting better and better! I went for the chestnut and honey mousse with muscovado meringues and bitter chocolate sorbet and Nick the dark chocolate ganache with salted caramel popcorn and banana ice cream. They were divine! There were some lovely gentle flavours and ultra smooth textures complemented with crispy elements on my plate – a sprinkling of granola helped with this. The mousse itself had the sweet, soft flavours that a combination of honey and chestnut gives and happened to be really tasty, while little jelly pieces added another level to the dish – I could eat it over and over again! The ganache on Nick’s plate was smooth, rich and gorgeous and had the perfect level of crunch with the popcorn and tuille on top. Perfect flavour combinations were apparent here as well and the presentation with all courses was eye-catching. The service on the night was very good with attentive and amiable staff there whenever we needed something.
I can honestly say I have never dined in a restaurant with décor this pink. Not to say that I don’t like it, it is different and I like the individuality on display. Salmon pink walls are laden with modern artworks (you’ll spot some great art pieces throughout the hotel), while long, light curtains cover the windows that gaze towards the street. Light wood tables and chairs rest on a light wood floor and lots of little lampshades offer a relaxing atmosphere. It has an Art Deco/in-the-womb feel to it and, somehow, that’s not a bad thing.
Art Bar is the place to spend a few hours before or after dinner – top tunes and expertly made cocktails from an extensive list are up for grabs in the low lit bar. We spent a few hours here after dinner sipping on some great cocktails and listening to the sounds of Queen, David Bowie, Bruno Mars and many more.
The selection of drinks is plentiful and interesting and I spent a while pouring over the variety of cocktails on the menu before deciding on Sloe Over You, a sweet and punchy offering consisting of Resposado Tequila, William’s sloe gin, Cointreau and lemon juice. I followed this with an Espresso Martini (espresso, Galliano Ristretto, Chase potato vodka and maple syrup) and loved the creamy, frothy top and smooth, sweet liquid. Other delicious cocktails on the menu included White Cow – Black Cow milk vodka, Mozart white chocolate liqueur and Crème de Cacao Blanc – and Creamteani – Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, cream, strawberry and blackberry liqueur.
Small, yet stylish, our room offered a clean and comfortable to place to spend a few nights. An exposed stone feature wall held a small open fireplace underneath a flat screen TV and a thin dressing table/desk area held the room’s iPad as well as a kettle with tea and coffee.
There wasn’t a wardrobe or chest of drawers, just a small rail with four hangers, not quite enough for me I’m afraid! A zebra print armchair sat in the corner, which became our wardrobe and the walls were mostly pale in colour but for the terracotta headboard and wall behind, there were also a deep purple blind at the window and chair at the desk.
The modern shower room had modern, decorative white and blue tiles and a dark blue painted wall, while our room had views of the rooftops of Bath and was just the ideal location to pop back to if need be throughout the day.
The hotel is placed in a central position with Bath Abbey behind, Pulteney Bridge and the rugby ground to one side, shops and sights just around the corner and the train station a short walk away. It is ideal for those wanting a hotel that offers easy access to nearly everything Bath can offer.
The Abbey Hotel drew me in and the longer I stayed the more I liked it, the bar was a welcome place to visit each evening and breakfast set me up well for the day. I think that’s the draw for the city of Bath too – you go for the shopping, rugby, world-famous sights and immense history and you only scratch the surface of what the place has to offer – the endless eateries for one are something that I’ll have to come back for!
IN A NUTSHELL
The rooms may be compact but this is made up for in the amenities the hotel has to offer and the central location. A visit to the bar is a must and you would be sorry to miss out on a meal in Allium at any time of day.
Stays at the Abbey Hotel, Bath start from £125 per room per night based on two sharing on a B&B basis. To book: abbeyhotelbath.co.uk; 01225 805613
Address: N Parade, Bath BA1 1LF