The Gainsborough Bath Spa is Bath’s leading luxury hotel and one of the most exciting hotel and spa destinations in the UK. Here’s why you should be booking your next UK spa break there…
When you think of luxury British spa destinations, I’ll bet that Bath appears pretty high on your list. After all, where else is named after the act of bathing for which the city is so famous?
It’s no wonder then, that when YTL Hotels were looking for the location of their first luxury spa property in the UK, they chose Bath. The brand, long-famous for luxury properties such as private-island resort, Pangkor Laut in Malaysia, wanted to create something special with The Gainsborough Bath Spa and that’s what they certainly did.
I’ve always enjoyed weekend getaways from London. There’s something so refreshing about a complete change of scene for the weekend. So much so that I started counting down the days to our late-winter jaunt to Bath from the moment we booked.
Driving up to the hotel, it was hard not to be impressed by the grand architecture. The golden stone and neo-classical building is right at home in a city that is itself a UNESCO World Heritage site. The hotel opened in September 2015 in a Georgian building that was originally a hospital.
The hospital was built in 1826 but was converted to a college then vacant for over a decade prior to its transformation. And what a transformation. Two architectural firms: EPR Architects and DA Architecture worked to bring the buildings into the 21st century whilst maintaining as much of the original features as possible.
Within moments of arriving, the valet had whisked the car away, we had checked in and were comfortably ensconced in our room.
It was love at first sight. The room’s high ceilings were complemented with the dusky colours and understated decor. As with the rest of the property, the rooms showcase the building’s heritage, while balancing it with the style of a modern luxury hotel property.
Nothing says welcome like a bottle and champagne, truffles and fruit.
Nothing says welcome like a bottle and champagne, truffles and fruit.
There was even a personalised letter from the hotel’s General Manager. These are the kind of touches that sets The Gainsborough Bath Spa apart from other luxury hotel properties.
A Luxury Spa in Bath
As YTL is a hotel group that very much specialises in spa hotel properties and Bath is a spa town, it would have been unforgivable not to have booked into The Gainsborough Bath Spa’s luxury Spa Village. The Gainsborough is the only hotel where Bath’s ever-famous thermal waters are pumped into the property. Spa and hotel guests can bathe in the thermal waters in the decadent surrounds of the Spa Village. In fact, it’s the only hotel in the UK with natural thermal waters in the property.
“What we really wanted to do here was recreate history. That’s what we do at Spa Village,”
explained Melissa Meittler, Spa Consultant to YTL Hotels and the mastermind behind the Spa Village at The Gainsborough Bath Spa.
The Gainsborough’s luxury spa is surprisingly large for a city property. It features 11 treatment rooms and a vast central atrium containing a series of thermal water pools at different temperatures. It’s also located in the very heart of the hotel, testament to the important role it plays in the day-to-day life of The Gainsborough. The central location is also reminiscent of the days when the Roman Baths were the beating heart of the city’s social life.
Guests are welcomed to the spa and treated to a personalised aromatherapy experience before they prepare for their treatment.
Guests create their own aromatherapy blend using a range of Neal’s yard essential oils. Picking my favourite oils while chatting to Meittler was the perfect way to help me relax and prepare for my Spa Village experience. I went with a blend of orange blossom flower and lemon, which Meittler then expertly used to create an aromatherapy pouch of the oils sprinkled on granules of sea salt.
After the aromatherapy session, I got changed, ready to start the Spa Village’s signature Bath House Experience. Guests of the hotel can use the thermal baths between certain hours in the morning and evening and all spa guests are encouraged to try the experience before their treatment.
So what is the Bath House Experience? It’s a journey through the Gainsborough Spa’s three thermal pools, interspersed with breaks in the saunas, steam room, ice alcove and showers. The Gainsborough have designed the perfect way to showcase the thermal waters.
Moving from pool to pool, you can understand what’s drawn people to Bath since the Romans opened the Aquae Sulis baths in 60AD.
By the time it came to the end of the Bath House Experience, I’d have been happy if that had been it for the day. Still, I’d booked in for the Ginger Renewal Treatment and was very much looking forward to it.
In short, the treatment was sublime. It combines a full body exfoliation with a back, neck and shoulder massage with ginger oil and hot stones, followed up with a foot and scalp massage. Sounds wonderful right? It was. The therapist was excellent, kneading out my always-knotty and gnarled back (guess who sits at their desk a lot hunched over a computer) with skill and expertise.
You know that a treatment is good when you sense it is coming to an end and will it to last just that little bit longer with every cell in your body. Well, that definitely happened – when it did finish I felt incredibly relaxed… but also a little sad that it had ended.
I pretty much floated up to my room after all that for a short rest (look, this stuff isn’t easy OK) before cocktails and dinner.
Dining at The Gainsborough Bath Spa
Our pre-dinner experience began with custom-made cocktails in The Gainsborough Bar before we adjourned into the main dining room for the six-course taster dinner menu.
After the perfect experience I’d had so far at The Gainsborough, I have to admit that my expectations of dinner were pretty high. I wasn’t disappointed. Head Chef Dan Moon has worked with the Michelin-starred Consultant Chef Johann Lafer to create an innovative and delicious menu. Each dish showcased the seasonal flavours and freshest ingredients to perfection.
We started with an amuse bouche of Smoked Ballotine of Var Salmon with Horseradish Potato Mousseline, Apple and Fennel. It was the first sign that the meal was going to be something really quite special… The contrast between the smoky salmon, spicy mousseline and fresh apple and fennel was expertly balanced.
To be honest, we enjoyed all the courses – from the Chicken Liver Parfait with a Rhubarb Sorbet, Sorrel and Almond Granola (don’t question the combination – it worked) to the Diver Scallops with King Prawns, Tomato Water, Yuzu Caviar and Pickled Radish. If I had to absolutely pick a favourite, I’d plump for the Wild Mushroom Risotto with a Poached Quail’s Egg, Parmesan Crackling and Cauliflower. My mouth is watering just writing about it.
Even if you’re not staying in the hotel, I’d highly recommend booking in for a spa treatment and dinner. The tasting menu is £60 per person (excluding drinks) – excellent value considering the size and the quality of the meal.
All too soon, it was time to go to bed. The next day it was a matter of breakfast (grilled kippers – delicious), some Bath exploration and then time to check out. The only thing that stopped me from being particularly sad from leaving The Gainsborough Bath Spa was the thought that I could always book another spa escape in the summer… and I think I will do just that.
Phone: +44 (0) 1225 358 888