Born from the combination of four 18th-century houses built in inimitable Bath Stone, The Queensberry Hotel is perfectly placed to explore Bath’s historic centre. The interiors keep the noble proportions and stately trappings of a Georgian townhouse – high ceilings and decorative fireplaces, for example – but the furnishings are fit for 21st-century urbanites. At acclaimed restaurant the Olive Tree, head chef Chris Cleghorn works his magic with first-rate seasonal ingredients, uniting cutting-edge cooking with classic British flavours. For the full experience, try his nine-course tasting menu, which rivals anything in Bath.
29, including two Junior Suites and one Four-poster Suite.
11.30am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3.30pm.
Double rooms from £125.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Continental breakfast is an extra £25 a person, including Continental buffet and cooked dishes. An optional five per cent service charge can be paid at check-out.
Owner Laurence Beere is a big whisky fan – and happy to share his taste. There’s a mighty selection of artisan brands in the lounge and all staff are brimming with connoisseur’s tips.
At the hotel
Terrace gardens, free WiFi throughout. In-room amenities: free bottled water, flatscreen TV, tea- and coffee-making facilities, CD player and DAB radio, Vi-Spring beds, Bath House toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
The spacious Junior Suites (rooms 7 and 8) were originally the townhouses’ drawing rooms and have original Georgian plasterwork and ornate fireplaces. We also like rooms 20 and 21. Numbers 22 and 24 have inspiring views of bath’s rooftops and room 6 has a lovely high ceiling.
No trip to Bath could be complete without dabbling in Jane Austen. Settle into one of the Queensberry’s many nooks and niches with a copy of Mansfield Park.
Valet parking is available for £14 per car (£17.50 as of 1 March 2022), per night. There's a two-night minimum stay at weekends.
Welcome. Activity packs, child-sized bathrobes and free baby listening is available for youngsters. Cots can be provided free and extra beds for under-18s are an extra £35 a night. Babysitting should be booked a day in advance and costs from £10 an hour.
Having snagged its first Michelin star in 2018, the Olive Tree has risen to the canopy of Bath's restaurant scene. Head chef Chris Cleghorn – a protégé of Michael Caines and James Sommerin – works his magic with the finest seasonal ingredients he can get his hands on, uniting cutting-edge cooking with classic British flavours. For the full experience, go for his nine-course tasting menu, which can be also be prepared vegetarian, vegan or dairy-free. If you're not quite as hungry, go for the five-course menu or pick and choose individual dishes.
Drinks are available throughout the hotel’s lounges and there’s a selection of spirits available on an honesty basis.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am (8am on Sundays) to 10am. The Olive Tree serves dinner from 6.30pm to 9pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Lunch is served from 12.30pm to 1.30pm, Friday to Sunday. The restaurant is closed on Monday.
A variety of dishes from the restaurant menu are available between noon and 10pm. Sandwiches and drinks are available at other times.
The nearest airport is Bristol International, which is a 40-minute drive from the hotel. London Heathrow is an hour and a half away and Gatwick is three hours.
Trains from London Paddington head directly to Bath Spa and take an hour and 20 minutes. From the station, the distance is under a mile.
The nearest motorway is the M4, which will deliver you all the way to and from London, and connect you to the M40.
Worth getting out of bed for
Pack a picnic and head to the green in front of Bath's Royal Crescent – or at the sprawling Royal Victoria Park nearby. On a sunny afternoon, the Parade Gardens are ideal for some riverside mooching; £2 gets you entry, a stripy deckchair and a patch of green green grass by the river. Open 10am–8pm on a summer's evening (or until 4pm during the winter months). Call 01225 394 041 for information on concerts at the bandstand. For a dose of the heebie-jeebies, tread the ancient Roman Bath streets on a Ghost Walks of Bath tour, or stop by the historic Bath Sweet Shop (01225 428 040) on North Parade Passage. Sherbet pips and aniseed balls in huge jars? What's not to love?
The hotel's own Olive Tree Restaurant is such a culinary star that you may not want to venture further. Chef Chris Cleghorn's five- and seven-course tasting menus are composed of dreamy dishes: fallow deer with pickled blackberry and bitter chocolate, Burford Brown egg with black truffle and 36-month-aged parmesan, black treacle and rye bread with clotted-cream butter… There are vegetarian and vegan menus too. If you're the sort who wants to be truly surprised by a meal, head to Menu Gordon Jones where diners don't know what they'll be eating until it's served. For a mod-Med menu and views across 'green Bath' beyond Pulteney Bridge, book a table at Browns Restaurant & Bar on Orange Grove. Bath's vegan dining options are legion: try Acorn for cruelty-free treats (mushroom parfait with hazelnut and pea sorbet with burnt cucumber), Nourish for laksas and bean burgers, and the Green Rocket for ginger-beer battered halloumi, Vietnamese coconut curry and the like.
When in Bath, an afternoon visit to The Pump Room in the Roman Baths on Stall Street is obligatory. To complete the Jane Austen experience of live strings, chandaliers, foxgloves and imperial columns, order the three tiers of afternoon tea for two. Or, 'take the waters': a cup of Bath's famous 43-mineral-enriched spa water can be bought from the Pump Room's fountain for a small sum. And, one simply cannot come to Bath and miss Sally Lunn's tea room, where the city's historic 'bunns' are served in savoury and sweet styles.
The Raven on Queen Street is a messy, cosy pub chocka with rambling book shelves and old mismatched chairs. The Salamander on John Street, Queens Square, is a little pub with wood-panelled booths at the back, just perfect for fish and chips or a lunchtime steak sandwich.
‘You’ve missed a vista,’ mentioned my Mr Smith as we sank into the green bowl within which Bath squats. Spinning round, I captured another rare, precious moment on camera. Having abandoned our three children, we were intent on celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary – with the first child-free weekend in ten of those years. Drawing up outside the honey-stone terrace, where this boutique hotel in Bath cunningly occupies three of the golden, flat-fronted Georgian houses, he suggested that in true Smith style we should really be arriving separately – and that having a single suitcase with our clothes pressed together was a bit, well, married and uncool. Frankly after all these years, we probably share a single immune system – never mind luggage.
The adaptation for intrigue at this lovely Bath hotel was immediately apparent. The decor is pale and discreet, with original features in the public areas. There are sitting rooms, notably unoccupied, but no bumping-into-hello-how-are-you-embarrassment zones. There’s no pressure to be sociable, no bar to make chums in – and everyone is ever so slightly evasive; eyes are lowered as you creep past. The reception area is so squirreled away that you could check in alone, whilst your partner in marital crime rushed past up the stairs, no problem. Even if the most famous illicit couple rocked up here, no one would take the slightest bit of notice. This is a hotel where doors close softly.
We scuttled furtively up the pretty double staircase to our room on the first floor feeling happy and anonymous – and slightly wicked; you don’t go away on a child-free weekend for nothing. The room, a perfect cube having been lightly trimmed to accommodate a bathroom, was painted the kind of grey you get when a storm is coming; modern, but not out of place with the period of the room. The cornice, thick with ancient whitewash, had been replaced along the top of the new wall with a crisp copy. Technology was discreet – a flatscreen television hovering on the wall and a digital radio blended into the background of polished period-furniture pieces.
We didn’t loiter at the hotel for long as we had an appointment at the Thermae Bath Spa. But before immersing ourselves in Bath’s famous hot waters, we stopped for lunch at Same, Same But Different – a little tapas café we discovered lurking in a passage just off George Street. Fuelling us with frosted San Miguel, a delicious goats cheese salad and what they claim is the best freshly-brewed Java in Bath, we drifted on down the hill to the spa – full, but ready to float.
Bath’s naturally hot springs bubble over several floors of a modern building built within an ancient one. Designed by Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, the New Royal Bath is made of glass and reflects the golden sandstone of the surrounding buildings. For about £20 you can spend several blissful hours, starting in the open roof-top pool, bathing in healthful minerals to your heart’s content. Maybe it was an illusion, but the minerals seemed to make us float effortlessly – perhaps the tensions of 18 years of child-rearing had simply been soaked out of us. Mr Smith carried me around through the water from bubbling spa to bubbling spa, like a plank under his arm. Shutting my eyes and letting him hold me up in the water was terribly romantic, like the kind of trust game you try on management courses – only without the worry of being ‘caught’ by Gareth from Accounts.
Stepping into a Calvin Klein black linen dress from my honeymoon, that evening we headed down to the Olive Tree restaurant in the hotel’s basement. There, in a room occupied by a desperately young – but highly civilized – hen party, dressed in a mixed metaphor of red feathery wings and halos, we settled down to eat asparagus and ravioli of chicken and mushroom, red mullet and some small fillets of brill. All good and rather delicate. We drank wine by the glass so we could try several bottles, I had a fresh mint tea – and then came the highlight of the gustatory experience: the best fudge I have ever eaten, rendered even more divine after a dipping in sea-salt crystals. Then we simply had to go upstairs to our sheets with a thread-count so high that you couldn’t see the threads – we suspect White Company’s finest, as that’s where the delicious toiletries hailed from.
The novelty of a small tousled person not appearing at 5am was even more relaxing and romantic than flopping around in hot mineral water. This is not a hotel where you breakfast in the dining room – I imagine you’d catch staff on the hop, they must be so used to couples making the most of their room. Croissants with butter, jam, coffee and fruit were delivered to our bed, whereupon we almost felt moved to re-enact the seminal scene from Richard Curtis’ first film, The Tall Guy – where Emma Thompson gets her shapely behind plastered with butter while having riotous sex with the divine Jeff Goldblum… Only, it was their first time – and our – oh goodness I don’t know. So we promptly moved the butter to one side in our tidy, irritating, married sort of way.
Packing up and checking out later that morning, we were back to being parents again – infinitely refreshed by being Mr & Mrs Smith just for one night at this Bath boutique hotel. So are we tempted to get another adults-only break in the diary? Absolutely. Only we're determined not to leave it another ten years before escaping again, that’s for sure.