Friday, 23 October 2015

Visit Bath for A Week of Heritage in October

To coincide with the schools half term, special exhibitions, talks and workshops will be going on across Bath from Saturday October 24th to Sunday November 1st, all as part of a heritage week of events. While there are many activities aimed specifically at children and families (making masks at Victoria Art Gallery or attending a storytelling session at No.1 Royal Crescent for example), there are also several special events going on that are not-to-be-missed for visitors of all ages. Especially anyone interested in history!

Welcome to the Mayor’s Parlour is an exhibition that will be running everyday for the Heritage Week from 11:00am-4:00pm. On display will be eight hundred years of history, including the City’s Royal Charters, gold, silver and sword. Located within Bath’s Guildhall, the Mayor’s Parlour is in itself quite impressive to visit; decked out in a decadent Victorian style with vast crystal chandeliers.

Wreck Mail: Letters from the Deep is a collection of letters which were carried aboard ships but lost at sea due to enemy fire in WW1. From 11:00am-5:00pm each day visitors to the Bath Postal Museum will have the opportunity to read some of this correspondence that was never delivered. Each piece has it’s own story and the story of the vessel it was being carried on. These include military vessels sunk by torpedoes to civilian ships that were scuttled by the enemy. As well as this special display the Bath Postal Museum details the history of the post right back to 2000BC and Ancient Egypt, through the birth of the Royal Mail and up to modern times. It’s rather appropriate that this museum should be in Bath as Bath is where the first penny black stamp was sent from in 1840.

Next on our list is a single day event at The American Museum in Britain – a unique museum dedicated to American life and history that can be found next to Bath University’s Widcombe campus. On Tuesday 27th October there will be a falconry demonstration going on in its impressive grounds (which have stunning views over the surrounding countryside). From 12:30pm-1:00pm and 2:30pm-3:00pm leading falconer Ray Prior will be flying owls, hawks, eagles and falcons and talking to visitors about the birds.

Finally, what kind of Heritage Week would it be if there wasn’t a big event being hosted at the Roman Baths? On Friday 30th October the Baths will be lit by blazing torches and open late from 6:00pm-8:00pm, allowing guests the opportunity to explore the Baths in a new romantic evening atmosphere. At the same time there will be the Great Roman Feast: an opportunity to try some traditional Roman dishes, as well as sampling the famous mineral waters should you wish to.

There are many other events going on throughout the week, but these are just a few of our picks. More details and the full Heritage Week programme can be found at: We hope all of us at Dukes Hotel in Bath can welcome you to stay soon!

It’s The Little Things That Make A Stay in Bath

At Dukes Hotel we know that it's the little details that can make all the difference to a stay in Bath. Whether this is just the right amount of milk in your morning tea, a room with a view, or having an egg that's just the right mix of soft and hard boiled for breakfast; these are the details that make all the difference. So this got us thinking recently about all the small things around the city that we might not always notice. And with this is mind we decided to write a post on some of the often-overlooked gems to look out for during a stay in Bath.

Bath is lucky to be the only city in Britain to have been given UNESCO world heritage site status. It was awarded this honour, among other things, for its Georgian architecture and grand Roman Baths. What fewer people know is that to commemorate this achievement Bath installed the UNESCO symbol in the floor outside of the Pump Rooms; just at the junction between Bath Street and Stall Street.

One primary example of Bath's grand Georgian architecture is the Circus. Completed in 1768 by John Wood the Younger (following plans laid out by his Father) this impressive circle of townhouses has stone statues of acorns lining it’s roofs. But since they're quite high up the acorns are not always noticed, and if they are then their significance is often unknown.

The reason John Wood included them was as a reference to the story of how Bath became a city. In around 850BC the future King Bladud was working as a swineherd, having been cast out of court for being a leper. The pigs he was looking after also had leprosy. At least they did until they played in some hot springs while they were hunting for acorns. The pigs came out muddy but cured of the disease. Bladud saw this, also went into the waters and his leprosy was also cured. He founded the city of Bath on the site in gratitude.  

Another impressive feature of Bath has to be Bath Abbey. At one hundred and fifty meters tall it’s not easy to miss. What is easier to miss though are the holes in the ceiling, but we promise you they are in fact there. Each one is about the size of a two-pound coin and they were put there deliberately to make it easier for the bell ringers. The ringers could put their eyes to the holes and see during weddings and the like when the happy couple was making their way back down the aisle. This was their cue to start the bells.  

Bath has plenty of secrets to reveal if you know where to look, and we’d like to think that Dukes Hotel might be one of them. Come and stay in Bath at our Georgian gem of a Bath guesthouse and let us help you discover the city’s hidden stories.

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?