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Review: The Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel – the best UK regional city hotel?

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This is my review of The Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel.

Regular readers may remember that, a few months ago, The Leading Hotels of the World offered me a generous deal if I agreed to pay $150 to rejoin their Leaders Club loyalty scheme.

I would receive a free night, including breakfast, at one of 49 participating luxury hotels.

This sounded like a good idea to me and I paid my $150.  I then had to decide where to go.

The Gainsborough opened in Bath last year to a wave of publicity.  What is unique about the hotel is that the spa is fed by the Bath spa waters – over 1 million litres of heavily mineralised water a day emerge from the ground in the centre of Bath, heated to 46 degrees celsius, and some of that fills the three hotel pools.

The hotel is owned and operated by Malaysian group YTL, best known for Pangkor Laut.

I spent four years at university in Bath and have retained a soft spot for the place.  It is no real hardship to pop back every few years to see what is new, especially with the decent train service from Paddington.  The Gainsborough could also offer me a room for the opening night of the Bath Christmas market, which was enough to seal the deal.

For clarity, the hotel did not know who I was or that I would be writing about them.  As I did not get a marketing tour there are no pictures of rooms other than the one I stayed in.

Where is The Gainsborough?

Situated on Beau Street, The Gainsborough is directly opposite the Thermae Bath Spa complex.  It is literally 30 seconds from the main shopping street.  You couldn’t be more central if you tried, but despite that the hotel is very quiet.

The staff

I tend not to discuss service too much in my hotel reviews.  It can very from day to day, from person to person – and I tend not to interact too much with the staff if travelling alone.  However, the staff at The Gainsborough were outstanding throughout.  Only Four Seasons Hampshire comes close in the UK, in my opinion – they were that good.

My room

I had been warned by friends who had already visited that the rooms were small – and they are.  This is the standard room I had which was on the top floor, in the eaves (click to enlarge):

Review Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel


Review Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel


Review Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel


Review Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel

Despite that, I was pleased with it.  It had been decorated to a very high standard, there was ample work space (and sockets), the mini-bar was free albeit not extensive, I had been left a free bottle of wine, toiletries were from Asprey, there was a coffee machine ….

Review Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel

That said, I was travelling alone.  The single sink, the shower being integrated into the bath and the ‘not very big’ double bed could have been tight for a couple.

I will focus on the spa in Part 2 as there is a lot to show.  For the rest of Part 1, I want to run through the public areas quickly.

I found these to be a mixed bunch.  The bar is very small indeed – so small that I couldn’t take a decent photograph.  The shot below is an ‘official’ photo:

Review Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel

The restaurant is more successful.  I didn’t eat here in the evening but I did return for breakfast.  This consisted of a modest buffet (pictured in the video below) together with more extensive a la carte options.  The photos, taken on a dark November evening, don’t really do it justice to be honest:

Review Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel


Review Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel

Finally you have ‘The Canvas Room’ which is the main residents lounge.  This worked well – the Christmas tree had just gone up and it felt very festive.  It was still a relatively modest space given the size of the hotel (99 rooms) although it was mainly used by external guests when I was there.  Frankly, if you are shopping in Bath and would prefer to pay £5 for a quiet coffee rather than £2.50 in a rammed Starbucks, this is worth a visit.

Review Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel

In Part 2 of my Gainsborough Bath Spa review (click here) I will take a look at the spa facilities.  You can also see them in the video below.  If the video does not show, or you want to subscribe to our YouTube channel or watch our other videos, you can do so here.

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Comments (17)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • krys_k says:

    I spent three years working as a consultant in Bath, three days per week, up to summer 2015. I must have slept in over 20 different places and ate in 83 different restaurants. Shame this wasn’t open during my tenure!

  • Ben says:

    We stayed for two nights when we were back in the UK during the summer where we arranged a University reunion (which meant I didn’t even remember getting back to the hotel one of the nights!)

    The breakfast was really good, although it wasn’t included with our stay so quite expensive. The buffet (or continental option) was quite extensive and the cooked breakfast really good. We nearly missed the cut off time to use the Spa but forced ourselves up early enough to get there, and it certainly helped to cure any hangovers!

    It was the best hotel I’ve stayed in the UK and we will defiantly be going back when we fly home home next summer.

  • Daz says:

    I was in Bath last Friday with my wife for a bit of Xmas shopping and it was the first time I have seen this hotel down a very quiet side street. I was supposed to take the family to Munich at the weekend for the market and Krampus but the exchange rate was not favourable compared to when I originally booked the hotel so decided to cancel.

    I’m glad you’ve reviewed this hotel as we normally try and stay at the Francis hotel up the road if a deal is on. So it’s nice to know another city centre hotel is available besides the most expensive HIX outside London.

    • Rob says:

      Francis is now part of Accor so you can at least earn / burn there.

      • Simon Schus says:

        Annoyingly, The Francis excluded from Happy Mondays though!

        Bath Uni grad here too 🙂 Visited a while back and saw The Gainsborough being built, didn’t realise it was finished though!

      • Daz says:

        I’ve stayed there a few times, nice location but the front rooms can get a bit noisy from the road and late night revellers. I met Raymond Blanc in his attached brasserie as a part of Amex platinum events, diamond!

        M Gallery Bath are not that happy chappies about giving upgrades or Accors Platinum benefits, they’re a little bit shy let’s say – So as we only live fairly local it’s only when the deals are on.

        • Simon Schus says:

          Due to my severe lack of skill, I had a nightmare trying to park in the small carpark at the back of The Francis. The Raymond Blanc restaurant is very good since it arrived – I had an event there under the former management, and it has certainly improved aesthetically!

          I totally agree, re: The Francis being shy with upgrades and Accor Benefits. On a recent stay, I emailed them in advance and asked them about the benefits at checkin. The tone of their reply by email and face-to-face came across as quite annoyed that I had asked about the free drinks benefit, early/late checkin/out and if upgrade availability (despite seeing availability in-app). It came across mean-spirited.

          When in Bath, I tend to stay at the Hilton Bath City instead (= much uglier building but generally have a positive experience, though a little longer walk to my favourite bars!). Might look at The Gainsborough next time if I can get an appropriate price.

  • Brian says:

    For Bath, I find that it’s another of those cities (like Nice or Rome) where an apartment makes so much more sense than a hotel. I’ve used a company called Bath Holiday Rentals – they have a selection of 4 and 5 star apartments of varying sizes and prices and their service seems to be excellent. They’re not really budget, so it’s not like Airbnb, but you do get so much more for your money.
    Rob makes no mention of the prices at the Gainsborough, but I imagine he would have paid hundreds for that tiny double. My one-bedroom apartment with a huge dining/living room and countryside views, between Queen Square (Francis Hotel) and Royal Crescent was less than £200 per night.
    You don’t get the public rooms of a hotel, of course – but who wants to use those in a place like Bath?

    • Rob says:

      Price is in Part 2.

      • Brian says:

        Ah! Thanks. My sister paid £200 per night for a two-bedroom apartment directly next to Victoria Bridge and looking down onto the weir. I think I’ll stick to that sort of deal!

  • Mark says:

    OT – I’m staying in Toyko this Sunday I have a 24 hour layover and I have to move from Haneda to Narita aiport – anybody got an tips for my 24 hours or recommend any really good hotels? I love hotels with remarkable views, never been to Toyko before!

    • D says:

      The Shangri-La is a fantastic hotel and is on top of Tokyo station where you catch the Narita express. If you can, ask for one of the staff to take you to the platform as it’s not easy to find if you’re unfamiliar.

    • JP says:

      I would also recommend the Shangri-La, great views too.

      Staff also took me to the Train Station Platform to put me on the Train to NRT

  • James says:

    I need one more IHG stay to trigger my bonus, I’m staying in crowne plaza tomorrow, however I just logged in and realised it says only 1 more day left, I thought it was till end of the year!! Will tomorrow count or is today the last day?

  • barnaby100 says:

    We met the spa manager from Bath at Pangkor Laut last month. He was touring their Asian properties to learn about how the spas were run.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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