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.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Making the Most of Mother’s Day in Bath

At Dukes we’ve been having a look at some of the top things to do to treat your Mother in and around Bath on Mother’s Day, and in the process we thought we’d have also have a look at the history of the holiday. Here’s what we found.

Surprisingly Mother’s Day originally didn’t have all that much to do with Mothers and had a lot more to do with religion.  Traditionally held in the UK on the fourth Sunday of Lent it began in the sixteenth century. Mothering Sunday was when people would return to the main cathedral or church in their area, also known as their “mother church” - hence Mother’s Day or going “a-mothering”, for a special service of worship. It was also the day that younger servants were given off for visiting their mothers and families. On the way they would often pick flowers to decorate the church or to present to their mother as a gift.

Over time other gifts began to be given and the day became more about mothers and less about worship. The form we know today, with its emphasis on mothers over religion, came about thanks to the American Anna Jarvis. She first celebrated Mother’s Day in 1908 and, after much campaigning on her part, in 1914 Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May a national holiday in the U.S.  The holiday was then adopted in countries across the world, including the UK who chose to merge Mothering Sunday with Mother’s Day as Mothering Sunday was already partly linked to the celebration of mothers. However the event didn’t really take off until the end of the 1940s when the influence of American soldiers posted here during the Second World War saw it’s popularity increase (thanks also in part to canny commercial traders who saw its massive potential for profit).

Today many see Mother’s Day as a day when a card is sent and a bunch of flowers ordered and that’s about it. But Mother’s Day should be more than remembering to send a token gift; it should be about spending time together doing things as a family and showing how your mum how much you care and appreciate her. So our recommendation is this: take some time and spend it with your Mum pampering yourselves on a luxury weekend in Bath.

Our top things to do are a free guided stroll led by the head gardener around the beautiful Prior Park, a visit to the Thermae Spa for a facial and a massage, afternoon tea in the famous Pump Rooms, and then of course some time for shopping and browsing the wealth of boutiques that Bath’s back streets have to offer.

Whatever it is that you choose to do the main thing is that you both do it together and you have a good time. At Dukes we are more than happy to make reservations and recommendations for you and we hope that we can welcome you to the city soon and help you to discover a few of its hidden gems. Treating yourself and your Mum to a weekend break and spending Mother’s Day in Bath is a wonderful way to show her how much she means to you.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Bath Literature Festival - A Grand Bath Hotel and A Few Good Books

Now is the perfect time to come and stay with us at Dukes in our beautiful Bath guesthouse because the twentieth Bath Literature Festival is now upon us and we couldn’t be happier. Authors from around the world are coming to the city to share their stories and their advice and we can’t wait to hear what they have to say. After all, as Mark Twain said; “good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”  

In our last blog we mentioned a few of the literary goings on that the festival has upcoming in it’s jam-packed programme. But the festival is not Bath’s only claim to literary fame and so we thought in this blog we’d take a quick look at some of the other things that make Bath a great place to come if you enjoy a good book.

Perhaps Bath’s most famous writer in residence was Jane Austen, who mentions Bath in every one of her novels and made it a main setting for both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. She visited Bath often in her youth and lived in the city from 1801 to 1806. Bath still retains much of the architecture and many of the places that Jane frequented on a daily basis so it’s easy to retrace her steps and view Bath through the eyes of a Regency author. Besides, a stay in Bath would hardly be complete without a trip to the Pump Rooms or the Royal Crescent – two locations that Jane was a regular visitor to, and for those wishing to really explore the life of Jane there is also the Jane Austen Centre. 

A less well known literary connection is that of Mary Shelley. When Mary’s stepsister needed somewhere to give birth to the child that she had conceived with Lord Byron she, along with Mary and Percy Shelley, came to Bath and the Shelley’s took up lodgings at 5 Abbey Churchyard.

Charles Dickens also stayed in the city as a young newspaper reporter. During this time he stayed at the Saracen’s Head in Broad Street – a pub still standing today, and he visited his friend Walter Savage Landor at his home at 35 St. James Square on a regular basis.

Bath has been the setting of such great books as Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers, Georgette Heyer’s Bath Tangle and is a location in many of the novels by crime writer Mo Hayder. With it’s grand Georgian buildings and relaxed atmosphere it’s easy to see why Bath is such an inspiration for writers of all kinds.

Come to Bath, come to Dukes and come to the festival. We’ll provide the great nights sleep and the luxury breakfast and the festival will provide you will more than enough reading material until it’s time for next year’s festival to begin. Because, aside from a luxury weekend away in a grand hotel in Bath, “knowing you have something good to read before bed is among the most pleasurable of sensations.” — Vladimir Nabokov

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Stay in Bath for the Bath Literature Festival 

From February 27th to March 8th Bath is playing host once again to its famous literature festival. 2015 is going to be the twentieth year that the festival has been held so it’s really pushing the boat out with some fantastic events and big name authors lined up in its jam packed programme. If you haven’t been to Bath before and you like to get lost in a good book then there really is no better to come for a stay in Bath. Here are just a few of the events coming up that we’re looking forward to. 

Throughout the week there will be literary walks on a variety of themes from Bath’s architecture to its lost pubs and inns to old ghost stories. Even for life-long residents it’ll be an eye opening experience - a chance to look beneath the surface and see the Bath that time forgot. If you’re totally new to Bath then it’s also a great way to be introduced to the city.

Over the ten days that the festival is on for some of the most well known faces of stage and screen will be travelling to Bath to discuss their latest projects. Among them are Mary Portas - talking about defying stereotypes and personal challenges, and Celia Imrie, star of Calendar Girls and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, who has taken a step away from acting and just released her debut novel.

As well as plenty of readings and pop up poetry events there are also a huge range of lectures and debates scheduled for the festival. Everything from explorations of historical figures such as Thomas Cromwell and Napoleon, to advice on writing and self publishing, to political discussions examining the role of the Kremlin and how Feminism is adapting to the digital age. 

This is before we even mention just some of the famous writers who will be coming to share their latest work and give sneak previews of their newest creations are Tessa Dunlop (The Bletchley Girls), Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go), David Nicholls (One Day), Kate Mosse (The Taxidermist’s Daughter) and Emma Hooper (Etta and Otto and Russell and James).

Other events on the list include writing workshops, pop up art installations and theatre performances (one event that sells out year on year is the brilliant Austentacious - a treat not too be missed). The festival really has outdone itself this year in providing something, generally multiple somethings, for everyone. 

We can’t recommend enough a stay in Bath while the festival is on and we at Dukes look forward to being able to offer you the warmest of welcomes to our luxury guesthouse for excellent nights of sleep and delicious, freshly made and locally-sourced breakfasts to look forward to in the morning. We hope to see you soon!

If you’d like to see the full Bath Literature Festival Programme please click here.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Valentines Day – Tips and a Get Away for Romantic Break in Bath

A card, a bunch of flowers, a box of chocolates and a DVD - the fail - safe Valentines Day combination for couples all over the UK. But this year for Valentines Day we thought why not show your partner how much you care by doing something a bit different? We’ve put our heads together at Dukes Hotel and come up with a few of our favourite tips on how to find a Valentines Day gift with real meaning. One of them, of course, is a romantic break in Bath, but here are some of our others.

First off, give them a present from the heart. Why not try making a mixed cd with all of your favourite songs on it? The song you played at your wedding? The one you both sing along to in the car? The song that reminds you of when you first met? Or you could try making a photo album of all of your favourite memories together. Nothing makes you look forward to wonderful times in the future like remembering great times you’ve had in the past. Or you could give them a book of personal cheques to use throughout the year. Not cheques for money but with promises like, “I owe you one shoulder rub”, or, “I owe you one home cooked dinner of your choice” – things that’ll actually want rather than another store-bought gift they secretly want to return. 

Then, present sorted, we recommend that you surprise your partner with a luxurious weekend break in Bath for the both of you. At the Thermae Spa you can have a couples massage together and spend the day on blissful relaxation and pampering. Later on in the evening it’s easy to find a top quality restaurant with a magical atmosphere away from the crowds. At Dukes Hotel we have some great recommendations for lesser-known gems and we’d be more than happy to make any reservations for you. As for following evening entertainments, take yourselves out for a night of music, theatre, dancing or a film. Komedia, Bath Theatre Royal and The Little Theatre Cinema are all fantastic options and have a range selection of events and performances going on over the Valentines period.

On Sunday have a blissful lie in and then wake up to be greeted by the sun rising over the Lansdown hills. Enjoy a succulent breakfast of croissants, smoked salmon and fresh coffee and then head out for a day exploring the romantic city of Bath. Take a walk along beside the river, take afternoon tea in The Pump Rooms, visit the art galleries, shop in the independent boutiques or simply enjoy soaking up the Regency splendor.

Valentines Day is about spending time together and at Dukes we want to do everything we can to make sure that you experience the best luxury break in Bath possible. So come and stay with us and spend some quality time together rediscovering your romantic side.