Thursday, 2 July 2015

Bath and the Theatre

When tourists in the Georgian era came to visit Bath, one of the top things on their list of things to do in Bath was to go to (and also to be seen at) Bath’s new Theatre Royal. For over two hundred years now Bath has been a big name on the theatrical circuit; welcoming the best classic productions, as well as some of the most innovative new works, that there are around. Ever the history enthusiasts (hardly surprising given that of all the types of hotels available in Bath, we chose to run a luxury Grade II listed guest house) we had a look at the history of theatre in Bath.

In 1768 Bath became the first city outside of London to receive a Royal Patent and, already with a growing reputation for top quality performances, this really put Bath on the theatrical map. Soon Bath was as important a booking for thespians as London was.

The original Theatre Royal wasn’t in the building that it is today though. The first Theatre Royal was in Orchard Street. It still survives but it is currently used as a Masonic Hall. Part of the building that now houses Bath’s Theatre Royal actually used to be Beau Nash’s house (Bath’s Master of Ceremonies from 1704 to his death in 1761). The move from Orchard Street to Sawclose followed plans drawn up by George Dance, professor of architecture at the Royal Academy. Amazingly the project only took a year to go from concept to finished creation, and on the 12th October 1805 it opened with a performance of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Since then it has played host to such famous faces as Sir Derek Jacobi, Rosamund Pike and Sir Patrick Stewart. It has had included in it’s programmes everything from family pantomimes to Shakespeare’s tragedies, and from Mozart’s operas to multi media adaptations of Virginia Woolf.  And with such a rich and lengthy past it’s hardly surprising to learn that it is said to have it’s own ghosts - The Grey Lady and The Phantom Doorman.

But Bath’s love of the theatre doesn’t stop at the historic Theatre Royal. There are a great many theatres to choose from in Bath. The Egg is dedicated to children’s theatre, while the Mission Theatre and The Rondo Theatre are both smaller scale venues which host a wide variety of touring and also locally produced works. Open-air productions are regularly held each year at local heritage venues such as Prior Park and Iford Manor and Bath is also home to the renowned street theatre company, The Natural Theatre Company.  

There are now over 18 cities in Britain with a Theatre Royal but Bath has still managed to retain its long-held reputation for theatrical excellence. So if you visit Bath we recommend having a look at what’s on and taking some time to catch a performance or two.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Summer is Here to Stay in Bath Carnival

One of the best things about summer, aside from long sunny days and ice cream cones, are the huge number of outdoor events that are going on. But it’s not just camping in fields at festivals like Glastonbury. There are hundreds of smaller, city-based events being held as well, and Bath is no exception; we have some lovely ones coming up soon.

The next big event we have coming up will be on Saturday 11th July when Bath welcomes back the Bath Carnival. Each year there is a different theme and local organisations and residents work together to produce a day of music, dance and arts that can be enjoyed by all ages, culminating in the grand carnival parade.

This year’s theme is Creatures, Colours and Communities. It’s inspired by Rio Carnival and each section of the city has been given a different colour and Brazilian creature to use as inspiration. Dukes Hotel is in the centre of Bath so we are part of the Brasilia area that has been given red as its colour and frogs for its creature. Even better for us – the carnival procession will be passing by our front door as it gathers at the Bath Recreational Grounds and will make it’s way down Great Pulteney Street, so we’re guaranteed to have a good view of it all!

Everyone is encouraged to join in in whatever way they would like to. Whether this is signing up to a workshop or two, signing up to march in the parade, or, most importantly, just turning out to have a good time and be part of the atmosphere. Costume making workshops are underway in the coming weeks and we’re really looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with. It should be a good spectacle. Last year there were lots of feathers, sequins and samba, so we’re hoping for some more of the same this time around.

It may not be as big as some, or as well known or high profile, but for those of us who want a little more in the way of comfort, and a little less in the way of dodging cowpats, small scale events like Bath Carnival are the way forward. You can enjoy a wide range of musical and cultural treats, while still having a comfortable mattress and a soft duvet to look forward to at the end of a lovely day. Stay in our luxury Bath bed and breakfast for Bath Carnival and you’ll get the best of both worlds.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Coming to Stay in Bath - The Bath Festival of Nature

Bath does fantastically well when it comes to hosting free events, and on Saturday June 27th another great free family event will be coming to visit Bath – The Bath Festival of Nature. Local and national organisations will be setting up their stands and displays around the bandstand area of Royal Victoria Park and offering visitors the chance to get stuck in and discover something new.

The Festival of Nature began in 2003 in Bristol and has been growing ever since. Each year a committee made up of representatives and members from the Bristol Natural History Consortium works together to fill the programme with talks and events from experts in sectors of conservation, media, policy and research. Some of the exhibitors this year will include the Avon Wildlife Trust, the Wild Waters tent and the National Trust who will be promoting their ongoing ’50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾’ project.

One of the best things about the festival is how interactive it is. A few of the things on the list of experiences that will be on offer are…
- A life casting workshop which will teach visitors how to make moulds of plants and faces
- A drawing workshop teaching you how to capture nature in pencil or paint
- The chance to make your own batteries with the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies
- Scientific stand-up comedy (we’re not entirely sure what this involves but we’re certainly intrigued to find out)
- And the Avon Bat Group who will be bringing in some live bats for visitors to meet.

Another highlight looks set to be the guided walks that are running. There are many many different tours that you can take that will show you the main city and tourist attractions in Bath, but if you fancy exploring the leafier side of Bath as well then there are two free nature themed walks that you can take as part of the festival. From 12-2 is the photography walk and from 2-2:45 is the nature walk that will be visiting Bath’s badger sets and botanical gardens.

Bath is a very cultural city as well a historic one (we were given World Heritage Site status in 1987) and the artistic side of nature is well catered for too. The Discovery Dome will be showing wildlife and art films throughout the day and the Forest of Imagination Installation is a sight not to be missed.

With the weather looking so good it’s a great time to stay in Bath and explore. Not only exploring the beautiful central city that Dukes Hotel is lucky to have enough to have waiting just beyond it’s doorstep, but also the many beautiful parks and gardens that we have all around us too. With so much going on for the Festival of Nature, it’s a great time to book a bed and breakfast stay in Bath. We hope we can see you soon!

Friday, 12 June 2015

 Visit Bath and Visit Dyrham Park

It’s easy to visit Bath for a week and find that there’s so much on offer in the city that you don’t have nearly enough time to do it all. Let alone have enough time to explore the surrounding areas as well. But Bath has such great road and rail links that staying in Bath and spending a couple of days of your stay going a little further afield is a real must. 

Recently we took a leaf out of our own book and went on a day trip to one of our local National Trust properties; Dyrham Park, and we had such a nice time that we thought we’d tell you a little more about one highlight of our latest trip. 

At the moment Dyrham is undergoing some essential renovation work on its roof – 200 years of use has taken its toll and apparantly water was starting to leak through in worrying amounts. But rather than close to the public while they replace all of the 8,000 slates and 46 tonnes of lead that make up the roof, the National Trust decided to turn the work into an attraction. Now visitors have the opportunity to go up to the top of the roof to a specially constructed walkway and get a close up look at the work in progress and see what’s going on. Not only was this pretty fascinating in itself, but there were viewing platforms looking out across the beautiful Cotswold countryside and the scenes were stunning. Made even better by the fine weather which we ‘re pleased to see looks set to continue this summer. 

It really is a unique opportunity and a great place to visit when you visit Bath. Of course, being caretakers of a historic house ourselves, as Dukes Hotel is a Grade II listed building, we feel a great affinity with organisations that want to protect the past in the same way that we do. There’s nothing quite like Georgian splendor to inspire you with a taste of luxury, and so it’s really important to retain the original features and authentic atmosphere of these historic properties. At Dukes we make a real effort to remain true to the era by preserving our sash windows, decorating our rooms in a traditional Regency style, and filling our hotel with beautiful antiques. 

Dukes Hotel is located perfectly for exploring the historic and cultural delights of Bath – the Royal Crescent and the Roman Baths to name only two. We’re only five minutes from the centre of town; placed just off from the famous Great Pulteney Street so it’s all right on our doorstep. We’re also only five minutes from the M4 and a ten minute stroll from Bath Spa railway station. This makes reaching all of the wonderful places we have nearby like Longleat and Lacock village (the location where they filmed the BBC series Cranford) fantastically easy.

Of course there’s more to see and do than can been done in the space of a weekend break, or even a two-week stay. So the only solution we can offer when it comes to trying to do it all is that you’ll simply have to visit Bath more often, and we really hope that you do. We’d be delighted to see you. 

Monday, 30 March 2015

Theatre Break in Bath

In 1768 a special act of parliament granted Bath a Royal Patent making it the first city beyond London to have its own Theatre Royal. Bath was fast becoming a city of luxury, relaxation and culture and this patent helped to draw in the famous actors of the day and the best shows from across the country. Today Bath still holds that honour. With such well-known names as Tom Conti and David Suchet due to grace the stage of the Theatre Royal this season coming for a theatre break in Bath is a must.

We’ve been looking through the programme of upcoming shows and we have to say that we’re impressed. The selection this season seems to have something for everyone.  Rather appropriately for a city that found its feet again during the Georgian era, Oliver Goldsmith’s Regency romp ‘She Stoops To Conquer’ is booked. And for fans of classic productions in general there’s also ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’ set to play soon.

Opera fans can enjoy ‘Die Fledermaus’ but in a complete contrast to this there’s ‘Spamalot’ treading the boards only the week before. Though perhaps our top pick of the year has to be ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’. Winner of seven Olivier Awards in 2013 this National Theatre production is coming on tour for the first time and will be staying in Bath for the last two weeks in October. Definitely not one to miss! 

Of course Bath has more than one venue dedicated to showcasing top-class pieces of theatre. The Rondo Theatre and The Mission Theatre are two more establishments dedicated to entertainment and culture. Smaller on scale and big on character they make for a more intimate night out and regularly offer the undiscovered hits of the future. Whatever your taste and whatever date you’re thinking of coming to stay in Bath there’s sure to be something on that you’ll want to see.

At Dukes we can offer you the perfect theatre break accommodation - we’re only a five-minute level walk from the centre of town; located in a pair of Regency grade 1 listed townhouses just on the edge of the historic Great Pulteney Street.  Check in with us and let us take your bags up to your room while you relax with one of our delicious afternoon teas. Then set out to explore Bath before the show! As well as receiving the warmest of welcomes when you stay with us you’ll also have all of our local knowledge at your fingertips and we’re more than happy to recommend the must-see attractions and the hidden gems that the city has to offer. After dinner and a great performance come back to us for post-theatre drinks and a wonderful nights sleep in the lap of luxury. Wake up refreshed the next morning to a luxury breakfast freshly prepared and a chance to do it all again with another show at another beautiful theatre. What could be better?  

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Dukes Hotel and Pre-Wedding Plans

With so many beautiful wedding venues on offer in and around Bath it’s a fantastic place to get married. Every year couples from all over the UK decide that Bath is the city they want to play host to their special day. Guests travel from across the country and stay in Bath overnight, ready for the ceremony the next day. But a wedding to remember should feel special from the moment you arrive right up until it’s time to leave, and for that you need great accommodation. 

At Dukes we’re always delighted to have wedding parties staying with us. We want to play our part in making the event one full of memories to treasure – your happiness is our happiness – to make the most of the big day you need to be relaxed, which means being well-rested and well cared for. So here’s what we suggest: spend the time before the big day with your closest family and friends and let us pamper you. 

Once we’ve taken your bags up to you room for you – we have plenty of choice when it comes to accommodation but our top recommendation, especially for the bride-to-be, is either a deluxe double suite such as the Wellington or one of our luxury four-poster bedrooms – then join us downstairs in for some refreshing pre-dinner drinks together. Bath is full of amazing restaurants and we are sure that we can make a reservation for you to delight all tastes. The Cozy Club or Sotto Sotto are two of our favourites. 

After a delicious meal out come back to Dukes for nightcaps in our private drinks lounge or in our garden courtyard, and time spent together fondly recollecting all those childhood memories and bygone exploits that weddings inspire before heading up to bed for an incredible night’s sleep in luxury Regency surroundings.

The next day we can offer you an incredible breakfast of fresh pastries, smoked salmon, fluffy scrambled eggs, Greek yoghurt and blueberry pancakes. We have a huge range on offer and if there are any special requests then we are more than happy to oblige – anything to make your day as special as possible. A bespoke wedding breakfast can also be served for you and your guests in the sun in our private courtyard garden. 

With soft bath robes and top quality toiletries provided getting ready will be a joy. Arrange for your own hairdressers and makeup artists to come in and you’ll have nothing to worry about bar the weather. 

Of course we also love to welcome newlyweds and couples about to set off on, or just beginning, their honeymoon. Dukes Hotel is all about Regency romance, personal touches and staying in luxury and we’d love to help make your wedding and the start of your new life together the best it can possibly be. We look forward to seeing you soon! 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Stay In Bath In Fashion

This year Bath In Fashion will be returning to the city from the 21st to the 29th of March for another week of workshops, pop up events, talks and stunning catwalk shows. A stay in Bath is always a pleasure but if you are a fan of fashion then this really is the week to choose for taking a luxury break in Bath.

Bath has long been a top destination for discovering unique styles and boutique designers. Of course the more familiar and favourite high street stores can be found around Stall Street and in Southgate shopping district, but take a walk up along Milsom Street and beyond towards the Royal Crescent and you’ll find high end fashion the likes of which won’t be seen in your typical M&S.

To celebrate both Bath’s local talent and global designers alike, top industry figures will be coming out into the city to showcase their latest collections and talk about their work. Some of the big names who will be discussing their inspirations and processes are; Holly Fulton who will be talking fashion with the Features Editor of, Jessica Bumpus; Sheila Mckain-Waid – the creative director of Jaeger; and Anna Sui, who is famous for her eclectic rock and roll style and her runway soundtracks.

As Bath is a heritage city steeped in history of course the programme of events also has a wide range of lectures dedicated to looking back at fashion through the ages. Georgian costumes, commemorative American quilts, vintage dresses and 70s chic are all key areas up for examination. Although one of our top picks for any fans of Mr Selfridge is the talk which will be exploring the birth and growth of Jolly’s - one of Europe’s oldest department stores.

However, as fantastic as the line up of talks and shows may be, one of the wonderful things about Bath In Fashion is the chance for you to get involved yourself. Workshops for all ages and tastes are on offer. We’ve got our eye on the vintage belt bags workshop given by The Makery (as seen on Dragon’s Den), and the screen printing and silk painting master class with top artist Carole Waller. Some of the other workshops include a make up master class, upcycled jewelry and needle felting.

And even if we do say so ourselves, just as boutique and full of luxury is Dukes Hotel. As a base for guests to the city we’re perfectly situated – only a five minute level walk from the centre of town and just off from the stunning Great Pulteney Street, we can be found in a pair of beautiful listed Georgian townhouses which are stocked full of character and charm. With the guarantee of a warm welcome, staff who are dedicated to fulfilling your individual needs, and the promise of a restful night’s sleep we’re sure that we can make your stay in Bath even more special than it already will be.