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.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Preserving the Grand Old Duke of Bath

We’re passionate about preserving the atmosphere of our Georgian guesthouse here at Dukes. A big part of what makes Dukes such a wonderful place to stay in Bath is that our guesthouse is wreathed so heavily in history. From its grand open fireplaces to its original sash windows, we’ve worked hard to maintain the integrity and atmosphere of our lovely Regency building and all of the special features within it.

Bath is without a doubt a historic city filled with a unique Georgian charm all of its own. It was granted World Heritage Site status in 1987 and it’s easy to see why. As you arrive in the city you are surrounded by beautiful Georgian facades, and even the new buildings built from Bath Stone are designed to echo its original Regency neighbours. Walking through Bath today is often as though walking through a different era. 

At Dukes Hotel, we believe it’s our job to preserve our conjoined Grade 1 listed Georgian townhouses and all of the many beautiful antiques within its walls. We hope to leave a legacy for future generations to enjoy and to provide a luxury Regency escape for the pleasure of our guests. If you want an atmospheric stay in Bath then only the real thing will do. 

So, what do we do at Dukes to look after our grand old guesthouse? Our rooms are furnished with period pieces and faithfully decorated in the classic Georgian style. They still retain their period features too. Moulded skirting boards, the odd creaking floorboard, beautiful plaster alcoves and arches, we’ve worked hard to keep as much of the old building’s original design features as we can.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t have the mod-cons too. Every room is en-suite with complimentary toiletries laid out for you and white toweling bathrobes provided for your comfort. Each room has a telephone, a flat-screen TV (tastefully and carefully installed), and free wi-fi signal. And each room has not only a daily room service facility but also a hospitality tray stocked with a kettle, biscuits, and a selection of top quality teas and coffees ready and waiting for you whenever you feel like a spot of refreshment.

Of course, a truly characterful guesthouse needs its quirks and we think that’s part of what makes Dukes so charming. Little signs of generations gone-by are scattered around for you to find; whether this is the arch of an old doorway or the light imprint of letters written in years gone by left on our antique writing desks. Dukes isn’t a perfect replica but the real thing and that’s why we love it.

A Georgian guesthouse of character, a host of friendly staff and a very warm welcome await you at Dukes Hotel. If you want a luxury bed and breakfast experience with atmosphere, there’s nowhere else quite like it.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Bring in the New Year with a Viennese Concert and a Luxury Break in Bath

Start as you mean to go on. And what could be better than starting the year with a luxury break in Bath and a spectacular New Year’s Concert.

Begun in 1939, the original Viennese New Year’s Concert has become famous around the world. Over the years its popularity and reputation has grown to such an extent that it has counted such prodigious guests among its audiences as members of royalty and famous names such as the fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. Now the demand to see the concert is so great that tickets need to be pre-registered for a year in advance and the concert’s worldwide broadcast figures in 2012 reached an estimated 50 million across 73 countries.  An impressive achievement, but nothing compares to hearing music live.

So naturally we in Bath are delighted to be welcoming back our own Viennese concert on New Year’s Day. For twenty-one years now the Bath Forum has played host to this gem of a classical music extravaganza and this year promises to be another afternoon of delights. The renowned London Gala Orchestra will be performing a collection of polkas, waltzes and arias and accompanying skilled soprano Helen Massey and tenor Andrew Wicks. All this as well as traditional favourites such as the Blue Danube, a rousing rendition of the Radetzky March and, of course, a traditional Scottish piper as a finale.   

At Dukes Hotel we are certainly looking forward to the celebrations. We’re lucky to be on Great Pulteney Street which is just a five minute level walk into town so our luxury guest house is the perfect place to stay during your break in Bath. Convenience comes with a city centre location, whilst also being a relaxing escape, and a good distance from any clubs and the late night revelers.

On the big night from our windows you’ll be able to see the fireworks as they go up but with the added bonus of being near a roaring fire and all the luxury and comfort that Dukes is eager to provide. We strive to offer a real Regency experience in the comfort of a grand period townhouses.

In the morning, after a refreshing night’s sleep in one of our sumptuous Georgian bedrooms, a delicious breakfast awaits. Before you head out to explore Bath you’ll be able to choose from our succulent breakfast menu which our chef will prepare to your exact specifications. Pick from our cooked to order selections including smoked salmon, locally made sausages and finest black pudding. In our continental options we offer a range of chilled yoghurts, pastries and fresh fruit. Or, even better, try a little of everything.

An escape to see the New Year Viennese Spectacular is a must for anyone with a passion for classical music and is a great way to bring the New Year in style in the beautiful city of Bath. Tickets can be purchased online from Bath Box Office, or by phone via 01225 463362. 

However you’re spending your New Year, we hope we can welcome you to Dukes Hotel for a stay in Bath soon.

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.