The city of Bath is one of those magical places that perfectly blends the old and the new, the big and the small, the boutique with the chain, the rustic and the glitz, and the majestic architecture with an abundance of surrounding bucolic scenery like no other place I have visited.
A juxtaposition of the above elements, this city, made famous by the Romans and their appreciation of the thermal waters that flowed from the depths of the earth, boasts a wealth of history and heritage at every turn. But it’s not just the eye-catching Georgian architecture including the likes of The Royal Crescent and The Circus, the 7th century abbey, or the preserved Roman ruins that attract the six million plus visitors each year, for this city is a treasure trove of delights waiting to dazzle any guest at every turn.
The only way to experience the city is by staying for a number of days, whether it’s your first visit or fifteenth, and the array of boutique, elegant, grand and characterful properties in which you can rest your weary head are plentiful.
On my latest visit, I headed to The Bird, Bath – a four-star retreat in a quiet part of town, yet centrally located behind the city’s rugby ground.
Full of character just like Bath itself, in a residential area and away from the bustle of the city centre, The Bird, Bath provides uniquely decorated rooms, a bird themed lounge, a delightful restaurant called Plate, an outdoor terrace with dining pods and distinctive décor throughout.
The building provides plenty of parking and it’s not long before you’re strolling along Pulteney Bridge on your way to discover the city’s central delights.
Inside, the interiors are full of interesting design features and every person you come across in the restaurant and hotel are friendly, welcoming and helpful. The reception sits adjacent to the lounge and as you check in, take a look around and you’ll spy a selection of crafty features, from the plate mosaic covered reception desk with the wine glasses hanging from above to the bird themed statement gallery wall in the lounge area.
There are 31 bedrooms and suites at The Bird, all decorated individually, and they range from comfy doubles to family rooms to a hot tub suite.
As I entered my ‘feature’ room a few things struck me, including the light coming in from the tall windows, the very cool copper bathtub in the baby pink bathroom and the lovely views of the sprawling bowling green outside. High ceilings always help to achieve that spacious feel and the roomy bathroom, accessed through clear double doors was, decoratively, a delight.
A spacious walk-in shower was equipped with a rainfall shower and the ever-luxurious Malin and Goetz toiletries, which worked wonders on my hair, while the statement roll-top copper bath sits there, positively inviting you in for a soak. I always appreciate mirrors in the right places and good lighting in a bathroom as well as storage space, so this was a big tick from me.
The traditionally styled room boasted a big bed in which I enjoyed a blissful night’s sleep, two glistening chandeliers, a Dyson hairdryer, espresso machine and kettle, TV and fan, but a lack of wardrobe (there was a small rail) and any drawer space meant a lot of unpacked clothes ended up on the armchair.
Beyond the tall, thick curtains, we spied the hotel’s outdoor terrace and dining pods which, no doubt, provide the perfect spot for al fresco dining in warmer months, while the greens stretched further behind this before the rugby ground came into view.
Head downstairs to Plate, where a colourful and characterful décor and atmosphere await.
Drinks – from beers to wines to cocktails, gins and other spirits – are enjoyed in the bar area, and when your aperitif has been consumed, make your way to your table in the popular restaurant. Warm tones, a cosy booth for two, eclectic décor, great music through the speakers, and bright, friendly staff made for a welcoming setting to enjoy what was a delightful dining experience.
The meal started with Bertinet sourdough, salted Longman’s butter and some olive oil and balsamic served on a bread board, and my dining partner and I enjoyed a glass of Champagne. I find it hard to resist it when I see it on the menu and so, for me, it was the heritage beetroot salad with goats’ curd, roasted walnut and pesto to start. This dish never disappoints, and the earthy, sweet, colourful beetroot was complemented well by the cheese. There was pesto on the plate, too, and though I love this ingredient, I could have done with about half the amount as it was at risk of overpowering the other elements.
A dish consisting of confit salmon, olive oil, vanilla and beetroot was another starter, and I was assured that this was delicious with fresh, colourful, vibrant elements pleasing the palate of my fellow diner. We both appreciated the well chosen crockery used, and this was something I also noticed at breakfast when I was wolfing down my eggs Florentine.
Back to dinner and many of the main dishes tempted me – Wagyu beef burger with bacon jam; whole Brixham plaice; wild mushroom and truffle pappardelle, but it was the duck that I settled on, and I was so pleased that I chose this.
The crispy Creedy Carver duck leg was an utter delight and the rich flavours from this compact parcel of heavenly meat made my taste buds sing. The accompanying dauphinoise was simply perfect, two thin carrots were lovely, the side of tender stem broccoli was a good choice, and the duck breast – just the right amount – was cooked to perfection, drizzled in a red wine jus. A few glasses of New Zealand Pinot Noir went down very well with these dishes, and the sirloin steak, too, I was informed and, all in all, it a was winning evening.
Alas, the addition of the sourdough before our starters meant that we were just too full for dessert, even after a little break, so we called it a night on the food, but firmly agreed that Plates would be a restaurant we would return to on a future trip.
As I touched on above, there are many a reason why you may be planning in a visit to this lovely city, and there’s plenty to take on, whatever type of traveller you are. History, art, culture and architecture are covered, and literary enthusiasts will be pleased with the Jane Austen Centre. Step back in time at the Roman Baths, indulge in the Thermae Spa or at one of the hotels spas that offer day visits to non-residents.
Take an elegant afternoon tea at the Pump Room, enrol in one of the various themed walking tours, while away the hours in the many boutique stores, wander the little parks, take in a show and embrace the leisure opportunities in this packed city. For some further inspiration, take a look at Visit Bath’s top ten must-sees.
In a nutshell
Bursting with character, friendly faces and a restaurant you will be determined to return to, The Bird, Bath ticks all of the boxes for a boutique hotel in this Westcountry city that never disappoints.
See snippets of my travels on Instagram @tashheard_food_travel
All imagery, unless stated, courtesy of The Bird, Bath.