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.