Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Ralph Allen, a legacy in Bath

For those who seek a little culture in their Bath weekend breaks, look no further than this unique museum. As you will appreciate Bath is a World Heritage City like no other. With a museum and model of the city like no other. The Building of Bath Collection offers a rare and fascinating insight into how and why Bath has the layout and building format that is so frequently visited and enjoyed today. A unique collection of line drawings, paintings and models, the architectural history of Bath presents the men and the labour that transformed a provincial town, spread over seven hills, into a highly desirable and world famous Georgian Spa.

This unique collection is housed within an equally unique museum. The Countess of Huntingdon built a chapel to fight the decadence and frivolity of Georgian Bath. The building has survived as the only complete 18th century Gothic Revival building in Bath.

Adult tickets are £5, with children enjoying the museum at a charge of £2.50. It is open from 2pm till 5pm every day (except Monday when the museum is closed). In the summer, the museum opens mid-mornings Saturday and Sunday.

Modelling the building of Bath

The Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel, The Vineyards, The Paragon, Bath, BA1 5NA

Three newly polished public houses in Bath

Bath has the good fortune of being the recipient of substantial investment in the transformation of three old fashioned drinking and smoking pubs. Following extensive refurbishment and investment, visitors to Bath may now take advantage of three modern, mixed purpose family pubs. All three properties are owned and run by Fuller’s of London. The Fuller’s brewery, located in Chiswick, west London, has operated on the same site for over 350 years, with links back to the era of Oliver Cromwell. More recently, Fullers developed their interest in the Bath hospitality scene with the redevelopment of their three public houses.

Crystal Palace has a prominent location on Abbey Green. The pub’s major claim of historic importance lies with the belief that Lord Nelson stayed at the property. Formerly called Three Turns Lodging House, the naval sea lord stayed as a guest en route to the coast. The building would have been somewhat different in appearance to the property we view today, as an upper floor has been removed. During the course of renovations in the last century, several skeletons were unearthed in the cellar, along with a Roman mosaic. The mosaic was carefully covered in sand and remains in situ to this day – less is known as to the current resting place of the skeletons. In celebration of the opening of Crystal Palace in West London, the public house that we know today was opened largely replacing the former lodging house. The Crystal Palace was refurbished once again in 2013; standing in Abbey Green, the property is a matter of a few strides from the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and the very heart of the city. Of particular appeal is the large outdoor seating area that offers guests a peaceful oasis as one seeks refreshment before setting off for a further tour of the sites.

The second pub of the trio is the Huntsman. Built in 1748 by John Wood the Elder, the pub claims the oldest façade in Bath. Looking east over Parade Gardens, the Hunstman makes an ideal stop over point when visiting Bath Abbey. Offering morning coffee, freshly cooked lunches or a simple evening pie and pint,  all needs are catered for. The ground floor is light, airy and full of open spaces and is suitable for casual dining or groups of friends to sit and chat. The second floor serves as a more formal dining area, with vast sash windows and views towards Bathwick hill and her surrounds.

The Boater, at 9 Argyle Street, is the third and arguably the most substantial property of the trio. A  weekend break in a Bath hotel is embellished with a good pint of ale. With six cask ales, five draught lagers and a ‘library’ of over thirty craft beers – The Boater - delivers on the good pint promise. You only need to walk out of Dukes hotel, turn to the west and wander along Great Pulteney Street a few hundred yards. Then walk past Laura Place, and before reaching Pulteney Bridge you will find The Boater on your left,  a delightful bay windowed public house. The Boater spreads over three internal floors and outside onto a terrace garden. The Boater is a palace to self-indulgence in the true tradition of Beau Nash. Benefitting from a recent top to toe refit, The Boater offers three separate dining areas. Tasty traditional fare served at table on the ground floor, candlelit dinner upstairs, and for those balmy summer evenings -  the outdoor waterside terrace garden offers casual eating overlooking the weir.

Bike Bath 28/29 June

Bath gently wraps herself over no less than 7 hills, each with a potential part to play in Bike Bath which takes place in the last weekend of June. The event welcomes all with a variety of course distances. With staggered start times, the Saturday ride heads out towards Bristol. Depending on your appetite, the 100 mile option will see you passing through Chew Magna before turning south through Cheddar east towards Westbury, on to Bradford on Avon, prior to the return north west into Bath. Less energetic rides of 20, 30 and 6 miles are available. On Sunday riders will be invited to strike out towards Cirencester north east of Bath from 7 am and make a broad sweep through the Cotswold prior to returning to Bath. Once again, there are a number of options: 20, 20 and 60 miles. The charge for the 100 mile route including three feed stations is a mere £35. The 60 mile route benefits from a discounted rate at only £30 and the 20 and 30 mile have an entry price of only £15. Under 16’s are invited to enter without charge. Bike Bath anticipates over 1,000 participants over what will clearly be a cycling weekend to remember. Further information is available on the website www.bikebath.

Bath weekend breaks at Dukes -  Click here to book your stay in Bath city centre.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Public Gardens of Bath

Sydney Gardens

Whether as a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast, a domestic residence, or as a gentleman’s dwelling, Dukes enjoys a majestic location on Great Pulteney Street . She faces Sydney Gardens and what was once the highly acclaimed Sydney Hotel, the very centre of entertainment and pleasure in Georgian Bath. The Sydney Hotel has evolved into the Holburne Museum; however, the original Georgian gardens, respecting their early design, still largely prevail. Following a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast in the tender embrace of one of Great Pulteney Street’s most well-known boutique bed and breakfast locations, head off to Sydney Gardens. The gardens are unique in being the only pleasure gardens in the UK remaining from the eighteenth century.

The pleasure garden and Sydney Hotel were designed to act as a focal point for the Bathwick estate. On the ground floor, the hotel offered social spaces for reading newspapers, card playing and the important pleasure of coffee drinking, and included reading rooms, bandstand, tennis courts and a gymnasium.

By 1836, as appears so typical today of the hospitality industry, the nature of the hotel evolved as the building was transformed into a private lodging house and an additional floor was added to accommodate further letting rooms. No doubt, the anxiety and concern back in 1836 was little different from that shown to the proposed Holborne Museum extension, blocked by planners and demonstrators at the turn of this century!

Laid out in the 1790’s, the development of the Great Western Railway cut across the park. Further impact, attributable to the industrialisation of the West Country, saw the building of the Kennet and Avon Canal running through the park, parallel to the railway line. Today, as the railway line hosts regular steam trains and the canal welcomes the gently chug of a holiday canal boat, it is difficult to appreciate the alarm and public outrage the dissecting routes would have provoked.

Cleveland House sits astride the Avon and Kennet canal.. Cleveland Tunnel, some 173 feet in length, runs beneath the house. The house acted as the former headquarters of the Kennet and Avon Canal Company. A cleverly located trap door in the floor of the house enabled clerks to pass paperwork down to the cannel boats as they passed through the tunnel. Having enjoyed a leisurely promenade in Sydney Gardens, you may walk out with just a sideways glance to a luxury Bath hotel of great stature and head off back down Great Pulteney Street to your more humble Bath accommodation. Of the Bath boutique hotels, Dukes would seek to simply be a warm, welcoming and restful destination to be enjoyed by those visiting Bath for a weekend break, honeymoon or simple indulgent treat. But what of the evening?  A little entertainment perhaps?

Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf?

One of the great plays to have been written in post-war America will be performed at the Theatre Royal in Bath. Audiences on Broadway in the US, were introduced to this Edward Albee masterpiece in 1962. The drama won the Tony and Critics’ Circle awards for best new play. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton starred in the 1966 film adaptation, winning five Oscars.

The play explores the deterioration of the marriage of a middle aged American couple. George is an associate professor of history and Martha his wife is the daughter of the president of the college. Following a university party Martha invites a young couple, Nick and Honey back to their apartment for a late evening drink. Over the course of three scenes we become embroiled in the bitter and frustrated collapse of their relationship. Alcohol, friendship and fertility are explored within an awkward and raw script. Sharpness and jealousy, spite and deception draw us in closer and closer to the failing relationship. As the play draws to a climax, George strikes Martha terminal blows with four simple, though concluding, words. With the finality of these four words, Edward Albee is deemed to have defined the darker side of truth that he claimed the all American dream so casually ignored.

For those who simply seek a fun and relaxing Bath weekend, summer is a wonderful time to visit. For those who enjoy spectator sports and having an ongoing event around which you may build your own day, give a moment’s thought to the annual event that so characterises our memories of long, hot summer holidays in France.

Boules Bath

Every summer in the square that lies in front of the Francis Hotel, Bath embraces a little bit of French culture, this year is no different. Join in the fun with Bath Boules , a charity event staged in Queens Square. Bask in the early evening summer sun on Friday 21st of June and wind down for the weekend with the Badger Ales Charity Party. Enjoy a complimentary glass of Badger Ale soaked up with large hunks of Thoughtful Bread and a range of cheeses served up by the Fine Cheese Co. For those requiring a little more sustenance, Brasserie Blanc will be on hand to set the Gallic tone with a menu of French gastronomic specialities.

Saturday morning and the event start promptly at 9:30am. A succession of 5 heats, quarter finals, semi-finals and finals will determine the team with the greatest Francophile skills. After a timely early morning start, and a day of professional competition and gamesmanship, the 2014 Bath Boules winner presentation is scheduled for 6:30pm. A glass or two in celebration will see the 2014 event draw to a close later in the evening. For those who wish to continue the Gallic theme, Bath is home to one of the finest French restaurants in the South West – Casanis. A restaurant whose name pays homage to a famous brand of  Pastis, an aniseed aperitif from Marseille in the south of France created in 1925.


One of the small treasures Bath is able to conjure up for you is Casanis,  a French Café Bistro restaurant. Widely recognised as one of the finest French restaurants in the UK, Casanis is located up a narrow pedestrian pavement as one of a terrace of independent shops and cafes on Saville Row.

Casanis is owned by the chef Laurent Couveur who was trained on cote d’Azure, was head chef at Chez Jaqueleine in New York, and most recently head Chef at the Ritz Club in London.  Laurent, with his wife Jill, have created a destination restaurant, warm with the charms of Gallic France. Casanis wanders over two floors offering authentic French food in tucked away Georgian houses on Saville Row. Just off George Street, at the head of Milsom Street, Saville Row is surely one of the prettiest lanes in Bath.

Not surprisingly, Casanis has won a pearl string of awards; listed in The Good Food Guide, this friendly restaurant has won press coverage in the Sunday Times, The Telegraph and numerous glossy magazines and foodie guides.

Dukes boutique bed and breakfast - Click here to book your luxury weekend in Bath

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Bath – spa hotel scene set to change

The Bath hotel scene will enjoy a dramatic upgrade in 2014. We anticipate the opening of a hotel in Bath like no other. The hotel rooms will be staggering, the service impeccable and the hotel facilities to die for. Although scheduled to open in June, as with all prima donnas a late entrance is to be anticipated, so we understand that The Gainsborough Hotel and Spa will now open in August. We are following the 99 rooms at  The Gainsborough Hotel and the upmarket full service restaurant with interest. However, to be honest, our sleep threatening interest is in the spa -  with its excellent facilities and  treatment rooms. Given the World Heritage Site status of Bath, the attraction of the Roman Bath, and the fact that The Gainsborough will tap into the same hot water source, need we add that the Roman Bath’s hot water source is the hottest in the UK, indeed the hottest in Northern Europe? With the importance of our visitors at heart of our preoccupation, is whether we will be able to sneak a few of our guests into the spa as VIP's, celebrities or simply as paying guests!

Free City Walking Tours

Following a long drive or train journey to your hotel in Bath why not unwind with a gentle walk? When was the last time that you enjoyed two hours of enthusiastic, professional and insightful knowledge for free? Drop off your bags at your very welcoming Bath accommodation on Great Pulteney Street and head off for the city centre. Where else in the world is there a near uninterrupted service of free guided walks  that been on offer for more than 80 years?

The first mention of guided walks in Bath may be traced back to 1934. Since that historic date, every Sunday - Friday at 10:30 and 14:00, and at 10:30 on every Saturday of the year, a guide will lead you around many of the most important sites in Bath.

The guides will offer up informative and historical insight into the folklore of the World Heritage City. Your walk will explore the city planning and architectural history of the formative years. You will be introduced to the historic role Bath has fulfilled as a leisure destination. With an ancient history of providing accommodation in Bath, public houses, tea rooms and the spa experience, the city is designed for your indulgence. The Royal Crescent, Circus, Pump Rooms and Assembly Rooms will all be visited and their role explained by any one of  the 65 dedicated guides.

The walk start is outside the Pump Room in Abbey Church Yard - look out for the self-explanatory sign 'Free Walking Tours Here'.

During May to September, once the weather picks up, there are additional tours on Tuesday and Thursday at 19:00. Each tour will last approximately 2 hours and, in our opinion, will offer you one of the finest and most informative free historical briefings on any World Heritage City.

As with most of the Bath hotels, we are only a five minute walk from the gathering point at the Abbey Church Yard. Take an inspirational stroll along Great Pulteney Street, over Pulteney Bridge, turn left and follow the banks of the River Avon past Parade Garden, and the Abbey will loom above you over on the right.

Bath Abbey

Visit Bath Abbey web site....

An easy level walk from your accommodation in Bath, with perhaps a coffee stop on Pulteney Bridge, may prove an idyllic introduction to the city. Once in the centre, a visit to Bath Abbey is a priority for many who visit this World Heritage City. 500 years ago work started on the building of Bath Abbey. The Bishop of Bath had a dream of angels ascending and descending into heaven. This dream explains the sculptured ladders either side of the Abbey entrance detailing climbing and descending angels. A Gothic fantasy with flying buttresses in the  perpendicular architectural style, the inside of the abbey is renowned for its fan vaulting designed by Robert and William Vertue. Bath Abbey is the last great medieval cathedral to have been built in England and, as such, has very great historic significance.

For a unique perspective, Tower Tours offers you the opportunity to take a fully guided tour into the areas of the abbey the general public rarely see. The fully guided tour lasts a little less than an hour, with adult tickets at £6 and children contributing £3. The guide will introduce you to the ringing chamber and the bell chamber and then take you to stand on top of the abbey’s vaulted ceiling. Often visitors will enjoy a brief pause when they may be seated behind the abbey clock face prior to setting off and completing the 212 step climb up to the roof top. From here, you will be offered a unique view over the World Heritage City of Bath, many claim to see the chimney pots of their accommodation in Bath at Dukes hotel against a backdrop of the Somerset hills beyond.

Music series at the American Museum

For many guests breaks in Bath are a matter of a little pampering and self indulgence. Enjoy the journey down to Bath on a Saturday morning, drop the bags off, park up the car and then head off into the city. Enjoy the sights, return to Dukes, shower and change before heading out to dinner. Sunday morning enjoy a leisurely breakfast with tasty options that one rarely savours at home; smoked haddock and poached eggs or try a perfect omlette. Once you have finished, rather than heading off home, why not extend the the Bath weekend and make your way out to the American Museum in Claverton on the outskirts of the city? On a balmy Sunday afternoon in early summer, turn the chill out factor to high and enjoy a lazy afternoon of jazz. For those in Bath over the weekend of the 15 June take note - Paul Hill, an accomplished guitarist and banjo player, will be performing at the American Museum situated at Claverton Manor in Claverton, Bath, Avon BA2 7BD 01225 460503

Paul is local to Bath and the West Country and will be performing as a guest of the summer All Music Series. Paul is a well-known figure on the UK’s blue grass scene. With a performance scheduled to start at 2pm in the Stables courtyard guests will simply require gardens only admission. Prices are £5.50 for an adult and £3.50 for children.

If you’re interested in a little more activity, then how about this as an alternative?

After a comfy night’s sleep and a full English breakfast in any one of the boutique hotels Bath has to offer, why not check out of your Bath hotel and amble along to the Vintage and Antiques at Green Park Station. Located on the western side of the city, Green Park is a ten minute walk from Dukes. A former railway station with a vast cast iron rib cage, the stately engineered structure simply oozes heritage. Much of the roof is glassed over and so makes an ideal venue for a varied mix of vintage and modern traders to gather and promote their collections.

Held every first and last Sunday of the month, the Vintage and Antiques market caters to collectors from as far afield as London, a mere 90 minutes away. Visitors include traders and antique hunters from Bristol, a 20 minute journey away, and a mix of visitors and residents of Bath.

During the summer months, the market boasts over 60 independent stalls selling an eclectic mix of silverware, vintage and retro, antiques, cameras, curiosities and collectables of all shapes and sizes. Enjoy whiling away an hour or two as you pick through the memorabilia. Or, take time out to indulge in a little people watching as you enjoy a thick slice of homemade Victorian sponge cake with a large pot of well-drawn tea. Bath offers up a wealth of opportunities for indulging oneself, whether by cris-crossing the city in search of that unseen architectural gem, lying in the roof top pool and the Thermae spa or rummaging through antiques from a bygone era.

Dukes Bath Hotel -  Click here to view our family-friendly accommodation.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Enjoy the sights of Bath by Land or Air this Summer

This summer we invite you to select Dukes as your preferred Bath accommodation. We are a well-recognised boutique hotel in Bath. We believe that the hotels in Bath city centre may be a little noisy and that we offer accommodation that is a mere 5 minute stroll from the heart of the city. With a friend, a loved one or simply to celebrate a unique occasion, you may wish to give some consideration to a rather exhilarating weekend break.

Ballooning over Bath

With the pleasures of crisp hotel sheets, feather pillows and a cosy duvet, who would choose to leave the hotel room? If you’re an early bird, this may be for you – leave your bed and breakfast accommodation before the Sunday papers arrive and head on out. On a crisp, dry morning in early summer, the balloons lift off majestically from Victoria Park. For many on board, it is a lifelong ambition. With the grandeur of the Royal Crescent and the inspiration of the Circus to admire, the early ascent will be a prize for all time. For those too excited to sleep, the morning flight may be preferred. Sneaking out of your hotel, B&B or guesthouse, Why not enjoy an inspiring walk through the streets of Bath as the city awakes?

Arriving in Victoria Park, the balloon lies half the size of a football pitch across the dewy grass, damp underfoot. The roar of the burners as they fill the cloth balloon is surprisingly deep, resonating and loud. The heat of the burners is a little out of place as the sun slowly struggles to rise. The basket of woven willow is surprisingly heavy and hard to the touch. Those around you embrace a spectrum of ages, heights and culture. A ten year old boy cold and white faced, the loving couple in their twenties…a honeymoon, anniversary, or marriage proposal. The older man in shorts windjammer and mountain boots, perhaps the least perturbed of all, with no facial strain or tautness in his voice. The filling tent of fabric gradually brings the wicker basket to attention, and we are ushered on board. The tanks are opened full and the roar is intrusive and overwhelming, we rise, there is a bump, we rise again and we are up. Not too high, not high enough a thousand images and perspectives burst through your mind……….Bath so familiar, so new, so strange.

For those who have paid for a good hotel room and a breakfast that will set you up for the day, why not turn over, snuggle down and enjoy your well-deserved lie in? Morning flights are popular, but for those who might prefer a pie and a pint, an evening flight will offer a day of anticipation and sunset memories for a lifetime. Whether you are  an early bird or a sunset tourist, a balloon flight over Bath is a one off.

As one of few boutique hotels in Bath, Dukes may act as the ideal base for one of those Bath weekend breaks that you will remember and cherish for ever. Whether it is to celebrate a special birthday, a milestone anniversary or as integral part of a unique wedding proposal – ballooning across Bath is a magical experience. If you are interested to find out more the ‘Champagne Classic Flight’, at £ 145 per person, and all other flights, offers may be  found on Bath Balloons or phone 01225 466 888

Roman Bath

The Romans clearly recognised the unique qualities of Bath accommodation. Having been challenged by the cold and damp conditions of Northern Europe their accommodation in Bath offered great appeal for all on the campaign. The Romans developed the springs, however, the history associated with the water stretches further back into the mists of time. The hot springs in Bath were first described in 836 BC. The special powers of the spring waters were claimed to have cured Bladud and his herd of pigs of leprosy through bathing in the warm mud. More recently, in 60-70 AD, the Romans developed a complex of bathhouses. Life focused in on the three geothermal hot springs that bubble up at a rate of one and a half million litres of water every day. At the temple dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva, the water emerges from the ground at 46°C, making these the hottest springs in the UK. In recognition of the important powers of the springs, the  Romans built a temple in tribute to the healing powers of the goddess Sulis Minerva. Once tributes had been made, the Romans also took the opportunity to build themselves a lavish complex of bathhouses, taking advantage of the naturally warm water. The heart of their complex remains today as the Great Bath, a very substantial lead lined pool filled to a depth of 1.6 m from the Sacred Spring. When visited today, the pools are open to the air, though in Roman times they were covered by a 45m high barrel vaulted roof. The complex of pools, for both hot treatment and cold plunge pools, attracted travellers from across the Roman Empire – the complex has long been respected as one of the most advanced, comprehensive and best-preserved spas in the world.

With the demise of the Roman Empire, and the Roman withdrawal from Britain, the baths fell into neglect and were gradually lost due to the silting up and the flooding of the low lying terrain in the era of the 6th century. The hot springs benefitted from attention in the 12th century and again in the 16th and 18th century. John Wood the Elder and John Wood the Younger instated the buildings and decoration of the Roman Baths largely in the form they are seen to this day.

The baths are recognised as the best preserved Roman spa in the world. In addition they utilise the hottest natural springs within the United Kingdom. Though no longer open to the public, the geothermally heated water rises up and is used within the Thermae Spa and will, from the latter part of 2014, also feed into the Gainsbrough Hotel and Spa.

New World – Old Maps

As a World Heritage City Bath would lay claim to some of the finest Georgian architecture in the world. The Royal Crescent, Circus and Great Pulteney Street are seen to be unmatched. However a little known fact is that Bath, or rather the American Museum in Britain  on the outskirts of Bath, holds arguably one of the finest collections of rare printed world maps in existence. In 1988 Dr Dallas Pratt, co-founder of the American Museum in Britain donated 200 Renaissance maps of the New World. Dr Dallas Pratt bought his first sixteenth-century map in 1932. He was in Paris with a friend, and on strolling past a bookstall on the left bank of the Seine, his eye was caught by three rather colourful maps. Over the following 50 years, Dr Dallas Pratt concentrated on acquiring the works of European cartographers. Mediaeval maps had a rather exotic mythical emphasis, and with the Renaissance, came a revival of the classical discipline of scientifically mapping land mass.  The riches of the New World warranted careful and exacting measurement as they were discovered, plundered and ruled by their Old World new rules. For those wishing to  celebrate the glimpses and memories of the less distant past, give a thought to enjoying a weekend break, embracing a memorable stay in a Bath hotel, pre-theatre dinner for two, followed by a superb rendition of some popular very well-known music and dance.

Thriller Theatre

A two hour spectacular direct from London’s West End is Thriller Live – a show that pays homage to Jackson’s 40 year musical legacy. This live concert, created in celebration of the world’s most well-known musical entertainer, will be staged at the Theatre Royal in Bath. The show has been performed in over 26 countries of the world and enjoyed by an estimated two million fans. Enjoy your favourite Jackson songs performed by an immensely talented troupe. The evening will faithfully feature songs from The Jackson Five and Michael. Through dance, audio and video you will be transported on an inspirational tribute to the legend that is Michael. Moonwalk along to your favourite songs including ABC, Beat It, Billie Jean, Bad, They Don’t Care about Us and Thriller.Monday 23 June through to Saturday 28th June, Life on stage from 19:30.

Bath is very fortunate to be home to numerous good quality, well run restaurants. However, residents and visitors are united in enjoying the rare privilege of having a culinary genius in our midst. For those who prefer the theatre of the kitchen – then look no further…

Inspired dining in Bath

Menu Gordon Jones is a small restaurant which is a little out of the city and a little awkward to get to. A tasting menu for two with accompanying wine will cost you £160 - £180, which amounts to  a little more than bed, breakfast and overnight parking at Dukes. However occasionally in life one has the opportunity to see, buy or taste something that mainstream. Of all that Bath has to offer, Menu Gordon Jones is possibly one of the most distinct, unique on the cusp experiences that this World Heritage City has to offer. The restaurant sits within a 70’s styled rounded shop front store on ‘bear flat’ a little way out of the city centre to the south of Bath.

When talking about an artist, musician or sculptor we are often prompted to describe by association. Gordon Jones may be portrayed as being from the school of Ferran Adria. He is one of two brothers who ran the world famous elBulli restaurant in Roses, Catolonia, Spain, until its closure on July 30, 2011. Reffan Adria forged a worldwide following for his molecular gastronomy. The emphasis is upon serving the essence of food, the essence of taste in a unique and wholly engaging manner. It is so much less about the food, or the course and so much more about the experience, flavour and genius of creativity. Each course is an assault on the senses.

Opening the performance may be a warm, almost foamy soup, with a delicate, thyme madeleine. A second scene may be an interpretation on a full English breakfast (remember this is a lunch and evening restaurant!). For those who retain their bearing, a third scene may present a ‘tandoori of dogfish’, with beetroot tacos and perhaps avocado yoghurt. By now one is losing the plot and enjoying the ambiance of the event somewhat. The experience is the food and within the food is the experience. Somewhat like the opening night of a creative gallery, or walking through a Mediterranean fruit and vegetable market, one’s eyes, ears and taste buds are fully engorged. Losing one’s sense of direction as to where to go next and how the evening may develop, the veal dish arrives. Pink flushed English veal lies with a bed of purple carrot puree as a companion. The pair are joined with a pickled, palate cleaning, crispy lotus root and a discrete gathering of girolles mushroom. One recognises that the final scene beckons with the arrival of -  one is not so sure though may be it is  -  beetroot ice- cream, gently poached fruits and a gracious slice of chevil root cake no less.

Menu Gordon Jones, 2 Wellsway, Bath, Tel: 01225 480 871. £160 for two for tasting menu with accompanying complimenting wines

Father’s Day – June 15

With Father’s Day scheduled for the 15 June, a solution for the occasion is at hand. Why not celebrate Father’s Day with a family weekend break in Bath? After a late morning arrival in Bath, park up the car for two days, check in and drop the bags off Before enjoying a light lunch al fresco by the River Avon, or overlooking the Abbey courtyard. Have a stroll around one or two of the World Heritage sites, perhaps The Roman Baths, or simply relax in the sunshine on the public lawns that sit in the lap of The Royal Crescent. Dine al fresco at Carlucci’s or Cote in the courtyards of Milsom Place or try the independent restaurant of Claytons Kitchen on George Street. An overnight stay in Bath gives all the family the opportunity to share in the true purpose of Father’s Day. A celebration of family, of fatherhood, and shared family values. Return to Dukes, one of a few Bath boutique hotels, late evening and allow our night receptionist to treat you to a nightcap in our residents’ bar such as a generous glass of port, an historic single malt or may be a liqueur.

Dukes Bath accommodation -  Click here to view our luxury bed and breakfast

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Musical breaks in Bath – feed your heart and soul

Of all city destinations, breaks in Bath would frequently be at the top of the poll. For many, top of their list is  the Georgian architecture, others applaud the superb collection of independent retailers, and yet more claim that Bath has everything on offer one would expect from a far larger city. Without doubt, breaks in Bath have a tendency to be tremendously successful and delightfully memorable. For those who enjoy festivals, one such unforgettable event takes place in late May.

Visit Bath in late May and you will struggle not to feel the beat on the street! Weekend breaks Bath on Friday 17 May, mark the opening of The Bath International Music Festival.  With roots that may be tracked back to 1948, the festival is well on its way to celebrating 75 unbroken years of activity.

The festival has won a strong national and international reputation for an undistracted commitment to both local and international musicians and social issues. This twin thread of musical endeavour and social conscience is woven throughout the music, performance and activities. The celebration is renowned for the opening Friday night, Party in the City, when over 2,000 musicians and performers local to Bath fill the streets and venues of Bath with their unique rhythmic music and sparkling entertainment. For 2013 and 2014 the festival will thrive under the leadership of Alasdair Nicolson, a versatile musician and acclaimed composure, The appointment of Alasdair follows in a tradition whereby Bath actively seeks a director who is a recognised practicing musician in their own right.

Over the years, the festival has been led by a number of internationally recognised musicians, Michael Tippett, William Glock, Joanna MacGregor and perhaps the most well-known would be Yehudi Menuhin. The nature and intention of The Bath International Festival is to push the boundaries – both of the musicians and their audience. In 2014 Alasdair Nicholson has won acclaim for the breadth of the line up. Stacey Kent from America; one of Finland’s most recognised musicians, Iiro Rantala; fans of the harp will be graced by Gabriella Dall’Olio, while those unfamiliar with the accordion will enjoy an inspirational performance by Martynas Levickis

Visiting Bath in late May for the annual Bath Music Festival will feed the soul. An experience only enhanced by staying at one of the boutique hotels Bath has to offer. Alternatively, choose a more modest guesthouse or simple bed and breakfast in Bath. Wherever you stay in Bath, rest assured you will leave relaxed, refreshed and inspired by the talented musicians, many of whom you will have embraced.

Breaks in Bath   - Contact us for a memorable short stay in one of UK’s most beautiful city centres.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

A hotel, townhouse or guest house in Bath?

At Dukes, while we might claim our core offer is bed and breakfast, our guests frequently state that we are one of the few boutique hotels Bath has on offer. Many are struck by the warm welcome they receive, others by our commitment to the happiness and well-being of each individual guest. They appreciate the assistance and attention to detail that our team offer them in an informal, unscripted manner. With this in mind they would suggest that we are a boutique hotel – a term we often shy away from as it seems a little modern , somewhat fashionable and at risk of being passe. Each summer our American guests re-introduce to us their descriptive terms of ‘inn’ and ‘innkeepers’. For us, ‘innkeeper’ seems a term somewhat too closely associated with ale, straw and horses, so we rarely, if ever, refer to ourselves as inn keepers. While the choice of boutique hotels Bath has on offer may be limited, we believe we have a great strength and reasonable claim for consideration. As far as the property is concerned, Dukes proudly stands within two very majestic Georgian townhouses that form an integral part of Great Pulteney Street, arguably the finest boulevard of Georgian England. We understand that the word ‘townhouse’ lies at the core of the French word ‘hotel,’ from which the English term finds its root. Although on many occasions our guests appear to offer differing views as to whether we should be tagged with hotel, b&b or guest house, one thing is clear: all our guests agree that our location on Great Pulteney Street is impressive. They feel the level, five minute walk into the heart of Bath is a true convenience and on checking out they have shared a personal, unique and deeply pleasing stay with us, in a wonderfully engaging city. Our location is ideal for those who wish to walk in, or alternatively, walk out from the inner city.

Boutique Hotels Bath –  For a stay in a period property within the heart of Bath city centre, contact Dukes today.

From Dukes, one only needs to walk across Great Pulteney Street and amble over a few ancient granite sets to enter Henrietta Park, a peaceful lung in the urban heart of Bath. The park was designed in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. As with many parks of this era, the layout is well considered and intended to enhance the promenade. One enjoys a tremendous sense of space that exceeds the park’s actual 7 acre size. Numerous specimen trees have been carefully located and nurtured over the past 100 years. Now fully matured, they offer a great sense of grandeur amid calm, controlled stability. Some of the park boundaries are formed by vast shrub groups; others have openings that offer glimpses of the Georgian architecture beyond. The park, in keeping with the fashion of the day, embraces a Sensory Garden where one may sit in even greater peace among the sweetly scented flowers and shrubs. Dukes is a Bath hotel that accepts dogs. As one of the few hotels to do so we are fortunate to have Henrietta Park so readily available. Should you wish for your walks to be a little more dynamic, then you may wish to join us here at Dukes bed and breakfast on the 16 May for ‘ Party in the City’, the biggest free show in Bath. Using Dukes as your base, why not enjoy this truly spectacular occasion?  Across the World Heritage City of Bath, numerous historic and fascinating locations play host to an eclectic program of music and celebration. The Friday night works as the overture for the Bath International Music Festival. As with any overture, the Party in the City offers up a flavour of the creative forces that will be on display across the city over the latter half of May.

Later in the evening, ahead of your return for bed and breakfast at Dukes, you may care to venture out for a bite to eat. The Graze Bar, Brewery and Chophouse opened in December 2012 and is earning an enviable reputation. Perched up on high, over the vaults, originally built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Graze lies adjacent to the Bath Spa Railway Station platform. Hotel guests have complimented the dry aged steak served at Graze from the restaurant’s own in-house ageing pantries.  The Graze website boasts that the premium steaks are cooked on a searingly hot Josper charcoal oven. Of Spanish origin, design and manufacture, the Josper is the latest must have chef accessory, widely respected as an oven that delivers the finest steak texture and flavour available. Graze is a flagship eating parlour for Bath Ales and offers skyline views of Bath. 

As you wonder back to Dukes, you will realise that your staying at a hotel in Bath that is ideally located, close to the centre though away from the Party in the City celebrations that will run on into the early hours of the morning.

May is a wonderful month to visit, as the city awakes to the ushering in of summer. Whether you’re looking for a hotel, townhouse or guest house in Bath, spare a thought for what is on offer at Dukes. A warm and personal welcome, a collection of unique bedrooms, a tasty and passionately prepared breakfast….. As for the property – call it what you will, maybe a boutique hotel in a Georgian townhouse is true, although it always strikes us as a bit of a mouthful. Home falls off the tongue more easily!

Dukes boutique hotel in a Georgian townhouse -  Enjoy a warm and personal welcome at your stay in Bath – book with us today!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Castles, Comedy and Comedians of Bath

Dukes offers Bath accommodation within two Georgian townhouses, standing proudly on Great Pulteney Street. For many people searching for a bed and breakfast in Bath we offer a unique and appealing solution. Our location is a major draw, sitting between Pulteney Bridge and the Holburne Museum, offering our guests an easy, level stroll into the heart of Bath. While a hotel in Bath city centre may offer certain convenience, as one steps out from Dukes few guests fail to be struck by the magnificence of the view as they stroll into the city. The street is 100 feet wide and 1,000 feet long and offers a spectacular perspective on Georgian living and the grandeur of the townhouses built in 1797. As Bath accommodation goes, Dukes is up there with the finest architectural antiques this World Heritage City has to offer.

Bath Accommodation – Contact us now to enjoy a comfortable stay at Dukes bed and breakfast in Somerset.

As the English poet Thomas Dekker recorded: “O, the month of May, the merry month of May”. May is traditionally a season of Maypoles and ribbons, a merry and romantic month, and a great time to visit us here in Bath. Your travel plans and itinerary may enable you to spend some time both in and around Bath. One such site, a nine mile drive from Bath and worthy of a visit is Hungerford Castle, or more properly Farleigh Hungerford Castle. The castle stands on the Wiltshire and Somerset border in the Frome valley overlooking the River Frome.

Dating from the 14th century, the castle was (for a mere 300 years), the home of the Hungerford family, whose somewhat gruesome history you may learn about on a tour of the castle. There are numerous interesting features to discover including the tombs of previous generations of the family, wall paintings, and lead death masks – not for the faint hearted!

You may also visit the Priest’s House and St Leonard’s chapel where, if you are brave enough, you can enter the crypt to see human-shaped lead portrait coffins, a collection recognised as the finest in Britain.

During May the castle is open from 10.00 to 18.00 and entrance is £4.20 for adults and £2.50 for children. Following on from a morning or afternoon at Farleigh Hungerford Castle, you might find that your visit coincides with a showing of ‘ Last of the Duty Free’ at the Theatre Royal.

This is a comic play by Eric Chappell, directed by Bill Kenwright and starring Keith Barron, Gwen Taylor, Neil Stacy and Carol Royle.  If you saw the TV sitcom series “Duty Free”, then you will recognise those names as the original actors who attracted TV audiences of up to 12 million viewers back in the mid 1980s.

In this reprise, the story of the unlikely class-divide charged holiday romance between David Pearce and Linda Cochran continues from where the original series left off and with hilarious effect. It runs from the 12th to the 17th of May and there are matinee performances on Wednesday and Saturday. The box office number is 01225 448844 or you can book online.

As you gently make your way back from the Theatre Royal, you will have a wonderful opportunity to pause and enjoy Pulteney Bridge before crossing over onto Great Pulteney Street and strolling along to Dukes. The architect Robert Adam designed and oversaw the building of the bridge for William Pulteney so that he could access land his family had inherited (the Bathwick estate) on the opposite bank of the Avon. His intention was to build a new town as a suburb of Bath.

One may never tire of seeing Pulteney Bridge; said to be one of the most beautiful bridges in the world, now adorned by cafes, antique coin and map shops on  both sides, it is one of Bath’s world heritage ‘must see’  gems.

For a different perspective on historic Bath, why not join one of the boat trips that leave from Pulteney Bridge and learn about the city’s history as you float down the river?

Many of our local and international guests visit Bath to see and absorb the architectural history. However, spare a thought for the fact that Bath has a very long history as a city of frivolous fun and recreation, stretching back to the Georgian era.

A modern day take on this reputation for being a  ‘city of fun’ is the  2014 Bath Fringe Festival running from 23rd May till 8th June and, as they say, a few days on either side. The festival is very much a compilation of many diverse art forms. This is a great showcase for local talent as many Bath artists and performers take part as well as many from outside Bath. Just be sure to book your Bath accommodation well in advance!

Photograph courtesy of Chris Greenwood

The Fringe is an eclectic mixture of street theatre, music including folk, jazz and classical, comedy, entertainment, dance, art and more. With many venues all over the city. The Bath Fringe may not be as extensive as the Edinburgh Fringe but it is equally as much fun.

Dukes Bed and Breakfast Bath City Centre – To enjoy luxury guest house accommodation in the heart of Bath, book today.