A whimsical addition to Bath’s boutique hotel scene, No.15 by Guesthouse, Bath appears the picture of 18th-century discretion on the outside: the Georgian façade is virtually unchanged since Jane Austen’s time in this iconic, English city. Inside, however, it’s a different story – murals, mish-mashed patterns and modern art are an exercise in charming (Non)Sense and Sensibility. Head straight to the welcoming bar, where you’ll be greeted with trays of out-of-this-world sandwiches served on jewel-encrusted tables; then mosey up to your plexiglass-accented suite. Traditionalists searching for a witty city stay with a dash of whimsy will need no Persuasion to make themselves right at home chez No.15 – after a few days here, you’ll be feeling all the Pride, and none of the Prejudice.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £187.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates include a Continental, full-English or à la carte breakfast: our favourites include the homemade seed and goji berry granola and avo on Bertinet sourdough with spiced tomato and poached eggs.
The hotel's passionate about supporting local designers: Woodhouse and Law and the Rossiters of Bath interpret Great Pulteney’s mantra – ‘wonder-filled and happy hotels’ – in the rooms. Keep an eye out for Martin Hulbert’s Lost Earring chandelier, crafted from thousands of lone earrings.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout; on-site parking (£22 a night; space is limited and subject to availability); laundry service; access to a generous pantry with free drinks and snacks. In rooms: internet-enabled LED TV with Chromecast; tea- and Nespresso coffee-making kit, and Dyson hairdryers.
Our favourite rooms
The rooms at No.15 are individually decorated. The Pulteney Rooms are our favourite: thought up by Martin Hulbert – the designer responsible for Smith-approved hotels Chewton Glen, the Grove and Coworth Park – they’re the image of romantic, understated elegance. The marble washstands, high ceilings and vast sash windows are straight from a Jane Austen classic, and the plexiglass furniture adds a whimsically modern touch.
The subterranean spa is set in the stone vaults below the hotel. Take your pick of holistic, mood-boosting treatments that include facials, classic massage and reflexology. We’d start with the indulgent couples' Cooper Room treatment, where you'll both soak in a copper tub for 30 minutes followed by a 60-minute treatment of your choice. Afterwards, you can unwind with herbal tea or a glass of fizz in the Retreat.
Aspiring Lizzie Bennets should pack cosmopolitan gear for sightseeing – smart skinny jeans, soft tailoring and ballet pumps will go down well (though you needn’t bother with a corset). Mr Darcys should aim for gentlemanly chic in chinos, blazers and collared shirts.
The hotel has a lift to all six floors, and is suitable for guests with mobility issues; one room has also been specifically adapted.
The hotel is happy to host up to two pups in some rooms (excluding the Small Guest Rooms) as long as they’re fairly small and well-behaved. There’s a charge of £20 a night. Just let the hotel know when booking. See more pet-friendly hotels in Bath.
Children of all ages are welcome at No.15 – the hotel can provide baby cots, story books and mini teepees, which can be set up before you arrive. Babysitters can be arranged via Norland College
When the Restaurant isn’t open for dinner, wend your way to the bar early for a G&T.
Best of British, with a unique twist to match your idiosyncratic surroundings: tweeds, heritage cashmere and pussy-bow blouses will go down nicely, jazzed-up with unusual jewellry.
Helmed by executive chef Matt Gillard, the Restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner and serves modern, British fare – say, Old Spot Bath Chaps, Somerset dry-aged fillet steak and a unique take on the Eton mess. Like the rest of the hotel, the restaurant has plenty of charming details: paper wigs, a collection of antique kitchenware and portraits lining the walls. Don’t forget to stop by the Bar for afternoon tea in the sitting room, where the list of brews – all served in silver tea pots – is as long as a Georgian petticoat (try the Gunpowder Green and Organic Jade Sword, if you’re feeling adventurous). Sunday lunch is not to be missed, too, with Hampshire pork belly, roast chicken in a truffle sauce, Wyfe of Bath cheese soufflé and other hearty dishes.
It’s easy to lose an afternoon in the Bar (open from 8am to 10.30pm Sunday to Thursday, 8am to 11pm on Friday and Saturday), a pastel-coloured treasure trove groaning with trinkets: glass tables display vintage jewellry and an accent wall behind the bar is lined in scalloped, leather scales, fashioned to look like exotic fish. Cocktails are skillfully crafted – we like the Dorset Pick Me Up, a take on the classic espresso martini, and the Somerset Old-Fashioned, with cider brandy and demerara-sugar syrup made in neighbouring Bristol. If you’re peckish, raid the bar's menu of light snacks.
Breakfast (7.30am–10.30am, from 8am on weekends), lunch (12.30pm–2.30pm, till 3.30pm on Sunday) and dinner (6.30pm–9.30pm Monday to Thursday, till 10pm Friday and Saturday) are served in the Restaurant. Afternoon tea is from noon to 5pm.
You can have breakfast in your room between 7.30am and 10.30am.
The hotel – a classic Georgian townhouse – sits on one of Bath’s most iconic streets in the centre of town; the famous Holburne Museum sits at one end, the fountain at Laura Place at the other.
Bristol Airport is a 45-minute drive from the hotel. If you’re flying internationally, go to Heathrow, from which it’s a two-hour car journey to Bath. The hotel can organise transfers from both airports (from Bristol, transfers start at £40; from Heathrow, prices are available on request).
The hotel’s closest railway station is Bath Spa, just a five-minute drive from the hotel. The station is well-served by Great Western Railways, and direct services frequently run from London, Bristol and Cardiff. The hotel can organise transfers from £5.
You won’t need a car for exploring the city, which is compact and best discovered on foot. If you’d like a set of wheels, there are car-hire booths at Bristol Airport; follow the A368 to reach the hotel. If you’re coming from London, the journey along the M4 will take just under three hours. The hotel does have on-site parking, subject to availability, for £25 a night subject to availability; pre-booking is essential, and guests must vacate the car park by 11am on their day of departure.
Worth getting out of bed for
Best known for its hot springs and 18th-century Georgian architecture, honey-hued Bath has long been a destination for socialites, artists and people-to-know. Stroll along Royal Crescent – arguably the city’s most famous locale – to get a feel for its epochal grandeur, and visit the Holburne Museum (just minutes from the hotel) for a dose of culture: you’ll find Dutch masters, fine English beadwork and intricate tapestry housed there. For an afternoon’s pleasurable card-swiping, wander down Walcot Streetin the centre of town to browse independent craft, pottery and antique shops. For a spot of rejuvenation (tired, sightseeing feet can only take you so far), head to the iconic Roman Baths, where the spectacular columned courtyard is lit in the evenings by flickering torchlight. Those left slightly miffed that you can no longer ‘take the cure’ at this historic spot should make their way to Thermae Bath Spa, where the mineral-rich waters are open to the public for a dip. And, if you really think you'd feel the benefit of a shot with 43 minerals, you can purchase a cup of spa water in the Roman Baths' Pump Room for 50p. If you get the vapours at the thought of a wet frilly shirt, pay your respects to Bath's most celebrated former resident at the Jane Austen Centre; or see costumed parades, learn how to cotillion like a pro, then flirt with your fan at a Regency-style ball during September's Jane Austen Festival.
The Mint Room on Lower Bristol Road has the best Indian fare in the city; try the palak kofta and the lamb rogan josh. Take a leap of faith at Menu Gordon Jones, where the chef's multi-course feasts are a surprise until they're served. Pieminster's home turf, the Raven has generously filled dishes and a 'Not Pies' selection of gastropub faves. Bath is also brilliant for vegetarians and vegans: try Oak Restaurant, the Green Rocket and Nourish for cruelty-free feeding.
No trip to Bath is complete without a stop at the historic Sally Lunn's eating house, to sample Bath's famed – not quite a cake, not quite a roll – 'bunns'.
It's not all 'taking the waters' here… Opium has murals on its arched ceiling, vintage seating and a long list of cocktails to get through, while the Dark Horse is a wood- and leather-lined space pouring English wines and southwest beers. For gin, go straight to the source: the Canary Gin Bar at the heart of the Bath Gin Company and distillery. And, get a taste for West Country gold at the Bath Stable: a pub and pizza joint with more than 50 ciders behind the bar – dedicated tastings let you try eight varieties for a very reasonable sum.
For the week prior, I was driving my way through Cornwall: wild, rocky cliffs and mysterious fog on the west coast of England. With only a few more days of my road trip, I made my way to Bath, my final destination before flying home. The stately city called my name and I was excited to get out of my hiking gear and into something a little more British. However, the air conditioner in my rental car broke and it was a shockingly hot week.
I desperately needed a bath.
Trying to push the heat out of mind, I focused on my surroundings as I pulled into Somerset. Driving through the English countryside is, it turns out, stunning. Long views of rolling green hills hug you along your route. And when I finally pulled into Bath at sunset, the perfect rows of white marbled Georgians glowed a fierce pink.
Then there’s Great Pulteney street. It just reeked of class. A wide pedestrian walkway – most definitely for a pre-dinner promenade – is flanked by stately houses. No.15, I was about the discover, would be my most favourite.
No.15 has a sensibility that is unlike any other. You’re immediately awed by their collection of art. It fills every inch of the walls, floors and furniture. Even the cocktail tables have a glass top displaying beads and baubles and sequined treasures. A magpie’s delight.
‘How many pieces of art do you have?’ I ask at the check-in, my neck straining to peek at the giant hutch’s top shelf.
‘Countless!’ comes the reply.
I’m lead up to my room which is tucked into the corner of the top floor. The walls slant. The floor buckles here and there. But there is something in the Alice in Wonderland nature of this eccentric home that makes those faults charming. My room features one wall with a graffiti’d mural of the cosmos. Two vintage teacups sit on table in front of it.
‘That’s it!’ I thought: it’s the juxtaposition of modern art and tradition that makes it all so tantalizing.
But there is no time to gawk at the art. I hop immediately in the shower and get dressed for my Bath promenade. The first stop is not very far. The lobby bar, awash in the brilliant sunset light by the large sash windows, is very chic. I order a Campari and soda.
‘That’s the most divine looking Campari and soda I’ve ever seen’ I tell the bartender as he brings it to the table. There is slapped mint and a giant wedge of grapefruit. It tastes as good as it looked.
I chat-up a fellow hotel guest. The atmosphere encourages it, in fact. With so many things to look at, you definitely need another to point out the piece in the massive collection you inevitably missed.
‘Did you check out the Kaleidoscope wall?’ she asks. I did. On my way up to my room after dinner, I find the wall. Rows of kaleidoscopes all lined up for you to look through. Intoxicating! I tell her about how much I love the sconce lampshades. They’re hand embroidered with the hotel façade. It was such a memorable touch.
Outside, I stroll the streets of Bath. It’s a small but vibrant town. The Roman architecture of Bath’s namesake tourist attraction is mimicked gracefully throughout the city. It feels a bit Mediterranean, just with more pints.
Upon further exploration, I deduce that Great Pulteney is the street. It’s unrivaled in its perfectly symmetric beauty. Arriving back at the hotel, my heart jumped as soon as I stepped inside. Such beauty outside and such wonder within…