Thursday, 18 December 2014

Taking A Short City Break in Bath - The Birth of The Weekend Getaway

Going away for the weekend to a beautiful city like Bath is one of life’s little highlights; something to look forward to whilst you’re stuck at work all week or battling through a mountain of housework. A short city break is the perfect thing to look forward to – a new horizon to help you get you through it all. It hasn’t always been this way though. In fact, our Grade I listed guesthouse was completed only shortly before the fashion for weekend getaways really took off. 

Bath has always been a popular tourist destination, thanks to its healing waters and historic spa town status, but it wasn’t until 1840 that Bath became a popular location for a weekend escape. Before 1840, the city played host to those visitors who would rent apartments and stay for weeks on end in order to enjoy the season of dancing and social occasions that Bath was renowned for. Travelling by horse and carriage (as was the only available means of transport at that point), along miles of dusty roads, took a long time so it wasn’t practical to come for a holiday of less than a week. And, only the aristocracy and landed gentry could afford the time and expense.

However, in 1840 Bath Spa railway station was completed. It’s thanks to the railway network that a far wider proportion of the population could now travel in safety, and more often, all for relatively little expense – certainly far less than previously. Doctors began to prescribe “a change of air” for increasing numbers of patients’ health, now that it was a viable option, and spa towns and seaside resorts saw visitor numbers boom as their advice was taken. Suddenly a whole world of possibilities was opened up to the general public and they took advantage of the chance for a relaxing short break in an exciting new town.

Bath was a popular choice. Its impressive Georgian architecture in clean white stone, its many beautiful formal gardens and its rich Roman history drew visitors from across the country. In addition to all that the city itself had to offer, Bath was also an ideal base from which to visit surrounding places such as Stonehenge or Weston-super-Mare.

In 1987 the city became a world heritage site and today it welcomes over a million staying visitors and over 3.8 million day visitors annually. They flock to experience the culture and history, as well as to enjoy more modern recreational activities such as watching the rugby or spending a luxury weekend in the Thermae Spa. 

With so many things to see and do in Bath, guests needed great accommodation to come back to. At Dukes Hotel we try to recreate some of that Regency splendor with our luxury bedrooms and period d├ęcor. Bath is a city to escape to and we aim to help you do just that. We’re just a five minute level walk from the centre – located on the historic Great Pulteney Street – so when you’re tired out from a day spent exploring, a revitalising glass of wine and a roaring fire are only a few steps away. With the thought of all the self indulgence, what could make the working week go quicker?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Stay in Bath and Wish Jane Austen Happy Birthday

Jane Austen is one of the most famous figures in history to have stayed in Bath. She visited often in her youth and lived in the city between 1801 and 1806. Bath plays a part in all of her novels and taking a tour of the city to do some location spotting is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

The city’s magnificent Georgian buildings, built from unique Bath Stone, are still as impressive today as they were when they were first completed around the time of the 18th century. If you are booking a stay in Bath, the city is a true Regency gem and it’s easy to imagine yourself in one of Austen’s novels as you take a stroll past the Royal Crescent or sip tea in the Pump Rooms.

If the weather is less clement and taking an exploratory wander about the town needs to wait until conditions are more favourable then that’s no problem either. Her connections to Bath live on not only in her novels but also through local attractions such as the Jane Austen Centre; a great place to visit if you’re a fan of her work or curious about her life.  

In addition to this, as well as hosting an annual Jane Austen Festival each September – where visitors from across the world can come to take part in costumed processions, book readings, and Regency balls – this year Bath plays host to an evening of celebrations on the night of her birthday, December 16th. 

Who could forget the iconic image of Colin Firth striding dripping wet across the grounds of Pemberley? But another heart-throb from the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Adrian Lukis, who played the devilish Mr Wickham, will be visiting Bath along with well-known actress Caroline Langrishe to discuss all things Austen. Also on offer will be seasonal music, the delightful singing of Rosie Lomas, and plenty of mince pies and mulled wine to enjoy in the atmospheric surroundings of the Masonic Hall. 

Just five minutes level walk away at Dukes Hotel we hope to be welcoming guests into yet more Regency luxury. Our boutique Grade I listed guesthouse sits within two conjoined Georgian townhouses on the historic Great Pulteney Street, so it’s the perfect place to stay to immerse yourself in the Regency atmosphere.  It’s close enough to the city centre to be in the heart of all that’s going on whilst also providing an idyllic peaceful escape to return to.

During a winter stay in Bath be sure to also pay a visit to the outdoor ice rink in Victoria Park and to catch the Christmas lights. There’s plenty to enjoy so we hope you can make the celebrations and that we will see you soon!

Follow the link for more information on Jane Austen’s birthday evening.

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 www.dukesbath.co.uk

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