This article is part of our ‘Week of Wonders’ promotion, sponsored by Marriott Bonvoy
Marriott Bonvoy is currently running its ‘Week of Wonders‘ promotion to remind you of the joys of travel.
Head for Points is supporting ‘Week of Wonders’ with a number of special features including FIVE fantastic competitions which will launch next week.
Today’s theme is ‘Wonders of Rejuvenation’. In need of a break after working flat out on the HfP website redesign for the last six months, I was delighted to accept an invitation to try out the the Abbey Hotel in Bath, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel.
The Abbey Hotel is a recent addition to Marriott, joining its Tribute Portfolio brand in July this year after a complete refurbishment.
There had been very little publicity about this – it came as a surprise to us in the HfP office when Marriott suggested it – so we were keen to take a look. It is the only Marriott property in Bath.
(This is a common theme with these unbranded properties. New hotels tend to get a lot of publicity during construction and opening, and of course have the chain’s signage outside. When existing hotels slot into these ‘soft’ brands, no-one knows about it.)
What is Tribute Portfolio?
It is worth taking a minute to explain what Tribute Portfolio actually is. Marriott inherited this “soft” brand when it merged with Starwood, who launched Tribute Portfolio in 2015.
Tribute Portfolio is a loose collection of independent, boutique hotels which have chosen to use Marriott’s marketing and booking system. Tribute Portfolio hotels are not restricted by brand standards and are more autonomous than “hard” Marriott brands. As Marriott says:
“Tribute Portfolio is a growing global family of characterful, independent hotels drawn together by their passion for captivating design and their drive to create vibrant social scenes for guests and locals alike.”
There are now 53 hotels as part of the collection, with more than half in the United States. Whilst Marriott classes both its Autograph Collection and Tribute Portfolio as premium brands, you can expect Tribute Portfolio hotels to sit slightly below Autograph Collection hotels such as The University Arms in Cambridge (reviewed here by Rob last month).
The Abbey Hotel, Bath
Back to the review.
The Abbey Hotel is very well located, literally a stone’s throw from the Roman Baths and Bath Abbey (hence the name!). There are just 65 rooms which have recently been refurbished.
It is situated on the edge of the pedestrianised city centre and is easily accessible by road or train. The walk up from Bath Spa station only takes a matter of minutes.
Built in 1739, the hotel is spread across three Georgian town houses. I imagine no two rooms are the same given this is a conversion of a historic building which means you can expect a spread of unique rooms, corridors and staircases.
There are two check-in desks in the small lobby, currently kitted out with plexiglass screens:
The Abbey Hotel makes a strong first impression with a huge variety of art that helps to soften the industrial chic style of the refurbishment. It is a real contrast to the exterior of the hotel and indeed the rest of the city.
Check in was a breeze and although I arrived at midday, I was told my room was ready, no doubt thanks to it being Tuesday night stay during coronavirus!
My Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status was recognised and I was told I could make use of the late checkout benefit.
My Gallery Family Room at the Abbey Hotel, Bath
I was upgraded to the ‘Gallery Family Room’ which can accommodate up to four guests.
The room was quite spacious, featuring a king size bed as well as a sofa bed:
The rich decoration of the room certainly makes a strong first impression and gives the hotel a lot of character, which I liked.
The TV at the foot of the bed is MASSIVE – almost as wide as the king size bed itself! It feels a lot bigger than it looks in this photo as you are close to the screen:
There is another TV mounted on the wall above the sofa.
On the reverse side of the TV stand is a small desk:
…. with a proper wheely chair, desk lamp and mirror. Behind this is another chair and luggage rack.
My room overlooked the front of the building with attractive views of the city:
Despite being on a road, the room was totally silent.
Connectivity in the room is excellent, with dual USB and three pin plug sockets on either side of the bed as well as at the desk. You won’t be hunting for a place to plug in.
Storage options include an open rail with hangars as well as some mini cupboards complete with hairdryer, iron and ironing board and safe.
You also have a fridge, kettle and nespresso machine:
There are a lot of lamps in this room that add to the ambience rather than using the main overhead lights. All in all it is a spacious yet cosy room.
The Abbey Hotel features a decently sized bathroom. This has also been refurbished, although to my eyes the bath tub has been retained, albeit with a new shower head and glass screen.
As you can see, the bathroom features a Thomas Crapper-style toilet which I thought tied in nicely with the rest of the historic character of the building and gives a very powerful flush!
Toiletries provided are in re-usable pump action bottles from Natural Spa Factory, a local Bath company.
The Abbey Kitchen restaurant
For a hotel of its size, The Abbey Hotel has quite a sizeable dining room, socially distanced for now:
Over the summer months the hotel has had quite a large terrace area outside, and there is also more casual seating around the ‘ArtBar’:
The bar itself features a lovely suspended ‘chandelier’ made of hanging glasses and decanters. This was all far more modern (in a good way) than I was expecting from a hotel in Bath.
Whilst the Abbey Hotel used to have a chef-lead restaurant called Koffmann and Mr White’s in collaboration with Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White, it has now refocused on a more classic and less fussy menu. Take a look at the menu here.
The food offering is basic with a pubby mix of fish and chips, burgers, burritos and buddha bowls. An odd mix, but it should cater for all tastes. The good news is that the value for money is high based on what I ate and there are a number of vegetarian options.
In the end, I went for the Salt & Pepper Squid to start:
…as well as the ‘Build your Own Burrito’:
I also tried the Chocolate Brownie dessert:
The quality of the food was good, so with a little bit of thought and refinement I think it could do quite well for itself. The hotel did say that the menu above is about to be replaced with a new Autumn menu.
The bar is very impressive. I was in the middle of a course of antibiotics (thanks to my wisdom teeth!) and had been warned to stay off alcohol or suffer horrifying consequences, so I requested a mocktail.
Despite not being on the menu, the bar staff came back with a number of options and I have to be honest and say I was very impressed.
In the end I went for a Virgin Mojito which was virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
Due to coronavirus restrictions, breakfast is being served in sittings with each slot 50 minutes long.
This probably wasn’t strictly necessary on the morning I was there, as the breakfast/dining room was virtually empty but for myself and one other couple. I imagine it is quite different at weekends, however.
Thanks to coronavirus, breakfast is being offered as either a cooked-to-order meal, or you can pick up one of the ‘grab bags’ featuring a continental selection.
The options are a Full English (with veggie and vegan alternatives), mushroom and poached egg on sourdough toast or a bacon, sausage and egg roll.
I’m never one to say no to a Full English:
The size of the portion is deceiving thanks to the gigantic plate, although it was just right in terms of size.
You may be unable or unwilling to fly abroad at the moment, but the UK has many great options if you want a relaxing domestic break.
Whilst the sun may have disappeared for the year, there is never a bad time for a city break in a place like Bath. The low level of tourists at the moment means that you can enjoy the city in a way that is rarely possible.
The Abbey Hotel in Bath has a lot going for it. It is well located, the refurbished rooms are lovely and the hotel has a distinct character and design which sets it apart from many of the tired hotels in Bath.
I want to give a particular mention to the hotel staff, who were universally friendly and always happy to help out.
As a Category 4 hotel, Marriott Bonvoy redemptions are available for between 20,000 and 30,000 points per night. This is good value given that weekend cash prices often exceed £200 per night. Weeknights are significantly cheaper out of season.
You can learn more about the Abbey Hotel on the Marriott website here. Thanks to the Bonvoy team for arranging my stay.