Just 1.5 hours away from London in the beautiful and historic city of Bath, on a cobbled street in the centre of this honey-toned city, two distinguished Grade II-listed Georgian facades are home to Britain’s most luxurious Spa and hotel: The Gainsborough Bath Spa.
(Photographs courtesy of The Bath Gainsborough Bath Spa)
People have been tapping into thermal waters since pre-Roman times. The Malaysian conglomerate YTL took on the complex and challenging task of restoring two buildings: a Victorian and Georgian building, and secured a borehole, which supplies thermal rich flowing water into the centre piece of this hotel: The Spa Village. The building was once a town house and a hospital. When the Victorians were adding on a wing to the hospital in the 1860s they found Roman remains in the cellars beneath the building – a preserved mosaic and a suite of baths; which today are at the heart of the hotel. When YTL were constructing the hotel they found 17,500 Roman coins in their original black sacks. These can be found on display in the hotel and in the Roman Baths Museum.
There really is no other genuinely historic and yet luxurious place to bathe. The Gainsborough Bath Spa provides the ultimate spa experience; ensuring that you feel rested and relaxed for weeks to come. The Spa Village has a Spa Concierge, with plenty of spa experts to guide you throughout your spa circuit. I am always impressed by small details and The Gainsborough Bath Spa surpassed my expectations. On arrival I was given a plastic tote bag, which had flip flops, a hand towel and bottle of water. I was taken to the Spa Aroma Bar, where Nick our “bartender” asked me multiple questions about how I want to feel after my spa experience, and then carefully chose a number of aromatherapy oils that he poured into a small pouch of salts. This was my bespoke pouch to use in the heat rooms to leave me feeling stress-free, calm and balanced.
Another member of the spa concierge took my husband and I into the magnificent atrium flooded with natural night and Georgian lanterns; which features three therapeutic pools at different temperatures. The Spa Village also has an ice room, infra-red sauna, traditional sauna and a steam room. As we moved from one thermal pool to the next, we indulged in small shots of chilli chocolate, just as the Georgians would have.
I would highly recommend a treatment, as it will complete your experience and send you to nirvana. Try the 90-minute magnesium wrap. This treatment helps to replenish commonly deficient levels of magnesium, which is responsible for promoting energy levels, sleep, circulation and metabolism. Your body will feel light as a feather with every muscle feeling relaxed. The next time I visit, I am going to try the aquatic therapy – Freedom. Imagine being stretched and being gracefully moved in the hot therapeutic waters, rich with 42 minerals. Perhaps the most luxurious part of the experience was that we only shared the Spa Village with one other couple. During the day only guests who are having a treatment can use the thermal pools and hotel guests can freely use the pools from 7-9am and 8-10pm.
If you want to soak in privacy for the rest of the day then make sure to check into the Bath Spa room – which has room access to the healing thermal waters on tap in your very own roll-top bath. Whilst the hotel is steeped in history, it is also undeniably modern. The New York-based Champalimaud Design company have created a palette of deep tones for the bed room. Our large room was dressed in masculine blue walls, simple soft furnishings and art deco tables. The bed was perhaps one of the most comfortable beds I have slept in. The beautiful silk lavender eye masks and the Neal’s Yard night-time aromatherapy oil that we were gifted certainly helped in ensuring I had a perfect night’s sleep. It is these small deals that make you realise that The Gainsborough Bath Spa has thought about your wellbeing experience holistically. Even where we arrived, we were welcomed with champagne and a divine chocolate torte in the comfort of our own living room – immediately we felt we were here to relax and indulge.
Whilst The Gainsborough Bath Spa has respected and maintained its heritage and strong Georgian and Victorian characteristics, it has also been influenced by its Asian ownership in two ways: the food and incredible service.
The dining room is a collaboration between YTL Hotels and Michellin-starred German chef, Johann Lafer; who uses fresh produce cooked in innovative and unusual ways. As a vegetarian I was delighted to see there was a vegetarian menu with ample options. I was particularly impressed with the almond carrot cream salad with beluga lentils and sweet and sour cherry tomatoes; and the sweet and sour pumpkin cooked with pak choi and coconut cream. The adjoining pre-dinner bar serves apothecary style cocktails made to suit your mood; mine was spiced with ginger and lemongrass.
For a Leading Hotel of the World, The Gainsborough Bath Spa is simply incredible. For a city hotel just opposite the Thermae Day Spa and just a few roads down from the Roman baths; it is remarkable that such a heavenly oasis can co-exist in the middle of the city. For me The Gainsborough Bath Spa is outstanding; and what made it outstanding for me was the service. As we walked in and out of the hotel we would have the most delightful conversations with Stefano, the Milanese, in Italian. When we asked for directions to the vegetarian restaurant Acorn, Arthur at concierge insisted he showed us the way and walked us all the way to the restaurant. In the Spa we had out very own Spa bar tender and expert on call in the atrium who guided us through our experience. I don’t think I have ever been to a hotel, which cares so much about their guests and their holistic experience.
The Gainsborough Bath Spa is the perfect escape from the city, yet perfectly situated in the World Heritage city of Bath, allowing you to indulge in the beautiful city and relax by bathing in the therapeutic thermal baths, a tradition so synonymous with this city.