Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Christmas in Bath - Decking the Halls of our Georgian Guest House

The day is fast approaching and at Dukes Hotel we’ve been getting in the Christmas spirit and decorating our lovely Georgian guest house from top to bottom. 

Now that the decorations are up getting into the spirit is easy. Even more so when you’ve got a glass of mulled wine in one hand, a mince pie in the other. Imagine you’re putting your feet up in front of a roaring wood fire in the beautiful period surroundings of our luxury bed and breakfast hotel. Especially at this time of year our Grade One listed Georgian guest house is alive with atmosphere and, whilst surrounded by such festive inspiration, it got us thinking about a few Regency Christmas traditions. 

A hugely important part of Christmas is the decorations. One form of decoration that was very popular in the Georgian era that we still love now is the hanging up of holly and sprigs of evergreen. Christmas trees weren’t so common, in the Georgian and Regency era; they were more popular in Germany; Queen Victoria made them a tradition here in the later half of the 19th century. Wreaths would have been made though and added to with ribbons and aromatic spices. Christmas never smelt so good! 

Christmas never tasted so good either. A turkey or a goose, or if you were a member of the landed gentry then maybe also venison, was the meat of choice for the main course of Christmas dinner. To follow this up, for desert King George I was given plum pudding (an early variant of Christmas Pudding) during his first Christmas dinner, thus establishing it as a festive favourite. 

Spending time with family and friends is what Christmas is all about and balls, parties and family reunions were the main focus of the season.  Fun family games such as pick-up-sticks and charades were very popular. Unfortunately while Christmas holidays today may only mean a few days off for many people, in the Georgian era the festive season ran from December 6th - St Nicholas Day through until January 6th  - Twelfth Night.

We are passionate about preserving history and love getting lost in the Regency atmosphere here at Dukes Hotel, so what better way than to reintroduce the festive season? At the end of a long year, taking a short break in Bath over the Christmas period is a great way to relax and celebrate. Whether you’re looking for a luxury bed and breakfast escape, a romantic getaway, a city break, or a longer stay in Bath to give you time to really unwind and get into the Christmas spirit, Dukes Hotel is here to help. We’re in the heart of Bath, just a few minutes walk from the city centre, but with stunning views of Prior Park and Claverton Down visible from our windows to one side and the impressive Great Pulteney Street to the other.

Christmas is the time to treat yourself. We’re here, Regency guest house halls decked, ready with the mulled wine and Christmas cheer to help you do just that!

Monday, 24 November 2014

Bath City Centre Break - Top Winter Attractions

There’s no denying that the countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun, but there is so much more to be enjoyed during the winter season besides the big day itself. With the weather outside turning colder and Christmas day still weeks off yet, what could be a better way to lift the spirits than a luxury Bath city centre city break in Bath? At Dukes Hotel we’ve scouted out some of the top activities and events taking place around the city. 

One big upside to the lower temperatures is the opportunity to construct an outdoor ice rink in Victoria Park. Skate hire is available and the rink is open from 10 a.m. to 9p.m. daily, so we recommend wrapping up warm and stepping out on the ice beneath the gaze of the beautiful Royal Crescent. Bonus points if you manage not to slip over and a good excuse for a medicinal cup of mulled wine if you do.   

On November 20th from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. will be The Holburne Museum’s impressive lantern procession. A parade of lights, lanterns and music will wind it’s way right past the door of Dukes Hotel on Great Pulteney Street and finish it’s journey at the Parade Gardens. A sight not to be missed!

If you’d rather stay in out of the cold during your Bath city break then there’s always the historic Theatre Royal to visit. Their upcoming shows include such gems as Saturday Night Fever, the wondrous and world-famous Slava’s Snowstorm, and the charming Christmas production of Rumpelstiltskin. 

In addition, Bath’s museums are also hosting an impressive array of exhibitions so there is sure to be something to interest most tastes. Displays range in variety from explorations on Caroline Herschel (sister to the famous astronomer) to shows housing the works of Matisse, Picasso and Dali.

For any Jane Austen fans, there’s an evening of celebrations planned for the night of Austen’s birthday, December 16th. In addition to mince pies and the enchanting voice of Rosie Lomas, there will be the chance to hear from Mr Darcy, meet Adrian Lukis (Mr Wickham from the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice) and lap up the regency vibes in a beautiful historic location.

Of course, there are also the festive things to enjoy as well. Bath’s Christmas lights are hung up and switched on, and from November 27th until December 14th there’s also the ever-popular Bath Christmas market to explore.

With so much on offer why not treat yourself to a warm winter getaway to Dukes Hotel? We’re only a five minute level walk from the city centre and all of the action, and we’re sure that our boutique Georgian guesthouse will be the perfect accommodation for your stay in Bath. Our luxury regency rooms promise an indulgent night’s sleep in a bed you won’t want to leave. No problem. While the warmth and comfort of your bed may embrace you, a best in class breakfast cooked to order awaits you. Crisp smoked bacon, fluffy scrambled egg, homemade pancakes or delicious smoked salmon beckons.

Winter is coming to Bath and we hope you will too!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Dukes Hotel - Stay With Us in Bath And Visit the Christmas Market

One of the highlights of staying in Bath during the winter season has to be the opportunity to explore the Christmas market.  Begun in 2000, this year will be the market’s fourteenth visit to the city and it promises to be another huge success. 

Five minutes level walk from Dukes Hotel, down Great Pulteney Street and across Pulteney Bridge, will take you to the city centre and to the square outside of the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey. Each year this square accommodates the market’s village of over 170 wooden chalets and provides a dramatic backdrop for visiting shoppers. Christmas shopping online can’t hold a candle to this festive experience. 

The market, which will run this year from November 27th until December 14th, plays host to a wide variety of unique craft and gift stalls, artisans, and, of course, an array of delicious food and drink to sample. As the market is of the traditional European variety, it would hardly be complete without somewhere to purchase a warming cup of mulled wine or a mug of Austrian-style Goulash soup.  

Among the wares on display you’ll see a range of ceramics, Christmas ornaments, stone-work, children’s toys, textiles, jewellery, home wares, artwork and handmade clothing. But there are too many stalls to mention everything the market has to offer! The best thing to do is to take a relaxed stroll around and soak up the atmosphere for yourself.There is plenty of atmosphere to go around!. Aside from the gifts on offer there are carolers singing traditional tunes, street artists performing music and magic and an abounding air of festive excitement.

The market is open from ten o’clock every day and is a fantastic afternoon out during your stay in Bath. But if you want a real sense of winter festive spirit why not visit in the evening? When the sun sets the Bath Christmas lights are turned on and the abbey is lit up, highlighting its impressive Gothic Revival architecture and towering steeple. Monday to Wednesday the stalls are open until seven. On Thursday you can browse until eight, on Sunday until six, and on Friday and Saturday there’s no need to stop before nine! The Roman Baths too keep their doors open until half past five so you can pay a visit to the illuminated steaming waters before you start your shopping. 

Then, when the day is over, what could be better than coming back to the warm welcome of Dukes Hotel to round off your Christmas break in Bath? Our guest house resides in a pair of Grade I listed Georgian town houses and is the perfect city centre location for a luxury break away. We can offer you a choice of period bedrooms and a stay in characterful antique surroundings. We are here to provide our guests with charming accommodation that is ideal for anyone who wants to escape from the hubbub of the everyday. Come and stay in Bath and pay the Christmas market a visit. We look forward to welcoming you to our beautiful city.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Accommodation in Bath - Three of the City’s Museums

Three tremendous museums only yards from your city centre accommodation.

Accommodation in Bath is always sought after; whether it is for an elegant room on the Royal Crescent, lodging in a Georgian townhouse on the Circus, or a suite of rooms on Great Pulteney Street. The reasons for accommodation in Bath being so popular, may best be appreciated by visiting three unique museums dedicated to the evolution of Bath.

The Building of Bath Collection

The layout of Bath rests within the history and geography of the area. The discovery of a natural source of geochemically warmed water, the contours of the seven hills that embrace the city, the location and flow of the River Avon, all helped determine why Bath developed as she is today. For a bird’s eye view of the city, visit the The Building of Bath Collection housed in the Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel on the Paragon. The museum is home to the most magnificent fully detailed architectural model of the historic city centre. This room sized model shares a unique insight into the layout of the Georgian City. The model helps define the hill embracing crescents of Lansdown, the Royal Crescent with their spectacular sun embracing aspects, and beautiful vistas across the heart of the city. The linking streets and boulevards are laid out in a classical and grand manner. Finally, the model introduces the six storey Georgian town houses which are further explored within the museum. The evolution and importance of the grand reception rooms are explained alongside their role in genteel Georgian society and the kitchens, vaults and servants quarters are introduced.

No1 The Royal Crescent

For those interested in a more rounded and comprehensive insight into Georgian living, then little may compare with a leisurely visit to  No1 The Royal Crescent . It was built to the designs of John Wood the Younger in 1767-1774 as the first house in the Royal Crescent. On visiting the house, one is introduced to such Georgian standards as the parlour, the gentlemen’s retreat, the withdrawing room, not to mention the housekeeper’s room, scullery, the butler’s pantry and bedroom. The main house of No1 has recently been united with No1a and now forms arguably one of the finest representations of a Georgian home in Bath, if not the UK.

Many guests staying at Dukes Hotel on Great Pulteney Street will find that they are familiar with the scale and proportions of the fine Georgian property. Of particular interest is the way the various custodians of Dukes have adapted the building over the past two centuries. The blocked in windows on Edward Street hark back to the tax on windows enforced in England from 1696 and repealed 156 years later in 1851.
No1 The Royal Crescent is open from mid-February until mid-December. The house is open from mid-morning until late afternoon throughout the week. A family of four may enter for £17, groups for £6 per head and children £3.50. A number of other concessions may be secured subject to conditions detailed on the museum website.

The Museum of Bath at Work

Having earned a clear appreciation of how the streets and architecture of Bath evolved, enjoyed a detailed insight into the daily and domestic activities of Georgian England, our third museum will offer a fascinating overview of working in Bath.

The Museum of Bath at Work is housed within a fascinating building in its own right. The former Real Tennis Court, built in 1777, stands amidst the area of the Assembly Rooms, the Circus and Royal Crescent.
The museum is arranged around the reconstructed Bath based engineering and soft drinks factory once owned by the Victorian businessman JB Bowler. Visitors are invited to walk among the display and better appreciate the workings of a complete soft drinks and bottling plant. Alongside the factory floor are the workshops and offices which look exactly as they would have appeared at the time.

In addition to the soft drinks industry, the museum houses a car, manufactured by the Horstmann Car Company of Bath. Sidney Horstmann’s car company operated from 1914 and made over 2,000 cars before closing in 1928. The car on display is fitted with a kick starting mechanism and a number of other unusual features; the vehicle lays claim to being the earliest known example of the car in the world.

Further display space is given up to the largest historic collection of film, photographs, documents, sound recordings and articles related to the commercial development of the city to be held anywhere in the city of Bath, or indeed the West of England.

As you walk back to your city centre accommodation, it is difficult not to look at the Georgian property through a fresh pair of eyes. It is difficult not to appreciate the crescents, parks, squares and from a new perspective.

For accommodation in Bath, close to three fine museums enjoy your stay at

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Hotel in Bath - Great City Centre Walks

Three great walks in Bath

Before you book your hotel in Bath, spare a thought for your planned activities. A city centre hotel may at first appear convenient, although on a Friday and Saturday night it may be a little noisy. A hotel on the outskirts of the city may be quieter , however, it will necessitate a long walk or a taxi or two. We firmly believe that Dukes benefits from a ‘goldilocks’ location - being less than a five minute stroll into the heart of Bath and only a few minutes’ walk from the canal path out into the countryside.

Bath is very much a walking city, where all the historic sites, retail outlets, Abbey and gardens are within an easy stroll. For those who enjoy invigorating, insightful or humorous walks, Bath has a number on offer but three walks in particular stand out. For those with an abundance of energy and time, little may compare with the Bath Skyline Walk, which is reputedly the National Trust’s most ‘downloaded’ guide. For those more in need of a little inspiration and re-energising, Bizarre Bath offers insight into West Country humour and the spirit of Bath. Our third great walk, equally central and accessible, is the Ghost Walks of Bath.

On a fine afternoon little is more uplifting than to embrace the skyline of Bath while sitting on an adjacent hillside. One may eagerly pick through the roof tops, chimneys and spires pinpointing the famous and less familiar buildings, searching for the crescents visited and the arched rooftops of streets not yet seen.

The Bath Skyline Walk

The Bath Skyline Walk is particularly well described and follows a broadly circular path to the east of the city, with Dukes hotel an ideal start point. With little more than a stout pair of walking boots and a map in hand, one may follow a comfortable level path out of the city, passing the Stag Pub at Widcombe. A gradual ascent will take you up past Prior Park Landscape  Garden, a garden created by Ralph Allen in the grounds of Prior Park Mansion, the  home that he constructed to demonstrate the charm and pleasing qualities of ‘Bath stone’.  As one reaches the top of the ridge, one is rewarded with broad and embracing views across the city and to the hills beyond.

On a summer’s evening, the preparation and ascent of a hot air balloon from within the city will provoke delight. It’s a magical scene as the basket and balloon gracefully rise above the roof tops. One continues on to Claverton Down and heads off to the north. The walk navigates the boundary of Bath University before passing Bathwick Wood and the golf club, before starting a gradual descent. One passes Sham Castle, an eighteenth century folly commissioned by none other than Ralph Allen, to provide both employment for the local stonemasons and to enhance the view from his home in Lilliput Alley in the centre of Bath. The descent through Bathwick takes one past some of the finest and grandest Georgian houses in Bath, towards Dukes and Great Pulteney Street. Once back at Dukes hotel, we have ample storage and drying facilities for any wet, muddy clothes or boots. A long, hot soak will ideally complement the afternoon’s activities.

The Bizarre Bath Walk

An alternative and very different activity is the ‘Bizarre Bath’ walk. For this we would recommend leaving Dukes hotel at 7:30pm, taking a stroll down Great Pulteney Street and across Pulteney Bridge, and following the river bank round to the left where one may overlook the weir. Passing the old Empire Hotel on the right, head for the Huntsman Inn which is adjacent to the Abbey Hotel, a city centre establishment. The walk starts every evening, between April 1st and November 1st, as soon as the Abbey bells strike 8pm. Adults are invited to contribute £8 and students a more modest £5. The walking tour is recognised as being irreverent, the guide blending script with ad-libs, gently ribbing passers-by. More of a  stroll than a rigorous march, guests enjoy the street theatre and banter of the guide. The 90 minute tour is good family entertainment, a fun filled take on Bath city living. As the evening turns to night your guide will return you to the Huntsman Inn. Here you may enjoy one of a number of cask beers before making your way gently back to Dukes, chuckling as you recall the evening’s pranks and humour.

The Ghost Walks of Bath

For those who do not wish to return to the welcome of a boutique hotel and would prefer not to snuggle beneath the warm duvet, with their head peacefully resting on the soft feathered pillow, there is always the night time pleasure of the ‘Ghost Walks of Bath’ to contend with. Highly acclaimed, the walks have a history that stretches back to 1974. Guests staying at Dukes hotel on Great Pulteney Street will leave the the hotel at 7:30pm. Making your way down Great Pulteney Street and across Pulteney Bridge, continue on west across the heart of the city towards the Theatre Royal. Arriving at the Garricks Head pub shortly before 8pm, your guide will take you to many places within the city of Bath that are noted for their strange events. All participants are invited to part with £10, students and pensioners  are encouraged to part with a more befitting £5.

The walks were established by a local historian and psychic and have been followed by visitors from all over the world for the past 40 years. Taking place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, against the beautiful backdrop of the Georgian architecture, the guides embroider the evening with stories and tales, events and happenings. The streets of Bath take on the mystery of times gone by. The toil , the heartache and heartbreak of the countless generations with a sprinkling of danger and fear. As the walk draws to a close, with slight misgiving you may find that slumber beckons and you return to your hotel  where a calming nightcap is in order!

Dukes, an ideally located hotel in Bath for those who enjoy walking

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Dukes Bath Hotel - City Centre Accommodation

City centre restaurants complementing the city centre accommodation.

For many years, Dukes has been a highly respected participant within the Bath hotel market place.
We appreciate that the Bath hotel scene is diverse, dynamic and driven by consumer demands. Dukes has always benefitted from a superb location, although we have never considered ourselves as one of the Bath city centre hotels.

In the 80’s and 90’s the city attracted a wave of very formal hotels in central Bath offering silver service restaurant meals, a full cocktail bar, and 24 hour laundry and room service. Over the past 10 years, as travel expectations have altered, we have seen the emphasis change with the introduction of more mid-range hotels supported with celebrity chef restaurants. More recently,we have seen a trend towards more budget style hotels opening in the centre of Bath and these have been promoted heavily across all media.

Regardless of whether you choose the modern option of  a budget room , or the slightly more self-indulgent option of boutique hotels, one thing is for sure, an enjoyable evening spent in one of Bath’s great Italian restaurants will help turn a good hotel choice into a great hotel choice. The Italian restaurant scene, as with Bath accommodation, is diverse. You may choose from Italian fine dining through to large steaming bowls of provincial Italian food. Let us share with you four of the most popular independent Italian restaurants in Bath.

Aio Restaurant

Aio restaurant is a very popular Italian trattoria. Located at 7 Edgar buildings on George Street,  Aio sits in a commanding position at the ‘head’ of Milsom Street. Aio is unique in offering a snug front restaurant, a back room very suitable for family celebrations and re-unions, and a third dining area, a large secluded terrace that stretches out behind the property. From the Sardinian word meaning come and join us, Aio offers an opportunity to enjoy both Sardinian and Italian food. Home made pasta, chargrilled steaks and a selection of fresh seafood are all on offer. Phone 443900 to make a booking.

Nonna’s Italian Restaurant

Not too far away, in fact round the corner at 39 Gay Street, you will find  Nonna’s Italian Restaurant Tel: 427919. Attentively run by Angelo and Lama, they named their restaurant Nonna’s  after the Italian word for Grandmother – the cradle and home of all classic Italian recipes and cooking! Concentrating on these classic Italian recipes helped Nonna’s win ‘Best Italian’ at the Bath Good Food Awards in 2003 and will ensure you of an enjoyable lunch time or evening meal in this fine independent Italian restaurant.

Rustico Bistro Italiano

A third option is nestled between the Royal Crescent and the Circus on an attractive pedestrian cobbled street. The premium location within the upper heights of residential Bath belies the rural emphasis of the food prepared within. Rustico Bistro Italiano  – as the name suggests - takes great pride in offering guests the rich tastes of country cooking. Run by two Italian brothers, Franco and Darix, Rustico Bistro Italiano has won a reputation for authentic, well priced, memorable Italian cooking. The cioppino (fish casserole) is without parallel and the fettuccine rustico (chicken in creamy mushroom sauce with pasta) is of undoubted excellence. Franco and  head chef Fabio take great pleasure in preparing classic Italian cuisine using locally farmed produce wherever possible. Intimate, friendly and unassuming, Rustico Bistro Italiano is claimed by many to be the best ‘ Italian Trattoria’ in Bath.

Sotto Sotto

For those wishing to enjoy the ‘best’ Italian ‘ristorante’ meal in Bath, then Sotto Sotto would come in as the marked favourite. Privately run by Antonio and Carlo, the restaurant may be found at 10 North  Parade . A distinctly up market, subtly lit cocktail reception bar with an impressive barrel-brick roof, introduces a taste of the pleasure that awaits you. From the opening of the entrance door through to the  moment of departure, you will be enveloped in attentive service. Antonio and Carlo manage operations with a passionate commitment to the guest experience. With smart, precise and enthusiastic overtures, meals are professionally prepared, well-seasoned and served with great care. Once the evenings guests are seated, Antonio is on hand to ensure that each dish is savoured, from the osso bucco (veal shank) to the orecchiette mare monti (top hat pasta with seafood, beans and pancetta).

These are just four marvellous Italian restaurants for you to consider, explore and visit, regardless of whether you choose to stay in one of the boutique hotels Bath has on offer, a city centre Bath hotel or in a one of the multitude of accommodation options on offer.  We feel confident that in their own unique way  Aio, Nonna’s, Rustico Bistro and Sotto Sotto will complement or enhance your choice of accommodation and add greatly to your stay in Bath.

Dukes a Bath hotel, close to city centre restaurants, for further information click here

Friday, 11 July 2014

Bath City Centre Accommodation - Roman Bath by Torchlight

Bath offers a breadth of city centre accommodation. Today we are faced with an almost overwhelming variety of propositions: small boutique hotels, city centre budget rooms, apartments for couples, and Georgian townhouses for reunions and family gatherings to name a few. However, the city’s role as a place for people to meet, as a location for social gatherings or a peaceful riverside location for rest and recuperation, has changed little over the past 2,000 years. The formation of Bath today is largely attributable to the discoveries made back in those ancient times and the actions taken by the Romans of building accommodation and areas of hospitality.

Visit in the summer and as the sun settles gently in the west leaving the warmth of her day’s embrace on the honey coloured Bath stone, relax and wonder at her charms. The stunning architecture of Bath holds us in her embrace long into the summer’s evening. As we glide into the long evening months of July and August, Bath willingly shares the depths of her memories with us all. Every evening the Roman Baths welcome visitors to submerge themselves in memories of our Roman past, each evening, until late at night.

The Roman Baths by torchlight take on a glow of the centuries past. Standing within the Roman Baths one may only wonder as the water rises at a rate of 240,000 gallons per day. A gurgling mineral rich flow of warmed water gushes out into the Roman Baths, as has happened for at least the past 2,000 years. The water rises at a temperature of 114F, making Bath the source of the hottest naturally flowing springs in the entire United Kingdom. The Romans, when first shown the hot springs were unable to understand the phenomenon. The flow and warmth of the water was beyond their comprehension. The mineral rich waters were surely of another world. They believed it to be the work of the ancient gods. In tribute to this Sacred Spring, a great Temple was built to accommodate the source. The Temple is known to have been a grand building. As the rag torches burn beside the Roman Baths, throwing dark shadows across the ancient walls, one may catch a glimpse of centuries past. The Temple was dedicated to the goddess of healing, Sulis Minerva. The healing waters and magnificent Temple attracted visitors from across the Roman Empire. Many of those who visited the Sacred Site made small offering to the goddess, a horde of more than 12,000 Roman coins have been recovered.

The Temple is one of only two classical Roman Temples known to have been built during the Roman stay in Britain – a further tribute to the importance of Bath and the Sacred Spring. The temple courtyard houses the spectacular gilded bronze head of Minerva, one of the most widely known and recognised objects from Roman Britain. The head is believed to be from a full body statue of the diety. The statue is believed to have stood with ‘her’ temple beside the source of the flowing Sacred Spring. The bronze head was unearthed in 1727 by men working in the nearby Stall Street. This tremendous discovery was the first intimation of the Roman ruins below the streets of Georgian Bath.

With the lamp light flickering behind you, make your way into the Great Bath. The water is believed to be sourced form 2 miles below the Mendip Hills. In Roman times, the Great Bathwas  covered with a vast vaulted roof. The alcoves surrounding the Great Bath were used for beauty treatments, relaxing and entertaining. The city of Bath has indeed a long and lustrous heritage as a place of care, nurturing and reinvigorating the weary soul.

As one enters the East Baths, the table lamps offer up a welcoming glow of soothing light. For the Roman these were the treatment rooms. Supplementing the naturally warm water the Romans created a tepidarium (warm room). In this room, little different in purpose from those in a modern spa, trained masseurs would apply fragrant oils and massage the joints and muscles of the weary Roman politicians and leaders. Beside the tepidarium is the caldarium (hot room) with elevated flooring, heated by a hypocaust steam system beneath. Passing further into the West Baths, where the Circular Bath stands, a lone flickering candle is reflected on the glassy surface of this, the cold plunge pool. The classic combination of warm, hot and cold rooms was deemed to be invigorating and uplifting for the body and souls of those who led the Roman Empire.

Bath remains to this day a destination for those who wish to relax, reflect and refresh themselves.
Over the past 2,000 years, little has changed. The desire for city centre accommodation remains as strong today; as does the desire for close proximity to the Roman Baths, easy access to local eateries, and a lively interest in advice over the locations that offer fine wine and relaxed entertainment.

Dukes hotel Bath city centre, click here to view our accommodation and luxurious offer