Jo Rees goes in search of grandeur in Georgian Bath
With its gorgeous Georgian and Regency architecture, Bath is a delight to wander around, and one of the most impressive strolls has to be around the quieter streets which surround the iconic Royal Crescent and the Circus. They’re two of the most famous examples of Georgian architecture in the world and the very end building of the Crescent (No 1 – of course) is open to the public. Visit its kitchen to see the ‘churn dog’ which involved making a dog run around a wheel, hamster-style, to churn butter.
Buns and biscuits
Head to North Parade Passage where Sally Lunns still serves the famous, secret recipe bath bun. The brioche style bun was hugely popular in Georgian times – which was probably why the city’s other famous foodie item, the Bath Oliver biscuit, was hailed as a healthy alternative.
Take the waters
Make like the Georgians and go to to the Pump Room to ‘take the waters’. It’s absolutely vile stuff, so it must be good for you. More palatable is its Jane Austen afternoon tea which is available during September 11-20 as part of the Jane Austen Festival. The menu includes potted jellied ham with pickled vegetables and brown toast, scones with earl grey butter and plum jam, lemon curd mini bath buns and custard tarts with gooseberry syllabub dessert shots – plus a Bath Gin G&T.
Where to stay
One of our fave places for imbibing the true spirit of Bath is The Queensberry Hotel. Slightly eccentric gentleman’s club meets exclusive boutique hotel, its character is perfectly aligned with the city and its gregarious past.
Inside the golden Georgian facade you’ll find little nooks to hide away in, discreetly luxurious rooms, a killer cocktail and wine list at its Old Q Bar, and an award winning restaurant, The Olive Tree (pictured above), which will both surprise and delight. The Olive Tree has also recently been refurbished with both the kitchen and dining areas enjoying their biggest transformation in over a decade.
‘My wife Helen and I wanted the restaurant to have a richer, more opulent feel, without being stuffy or fussy,’ says owner Laurence Beere. ‘It was about embracing and reflecting the quirkiness of the hotel and The Old Q Bar, with the idea that we are a serious restaurant which doesn’t take itself too seriously.’
Laurence and Helen worked with interior design company, Absolute, to transform the lower ground floor restaurant with soft lighting, banquette seating and illustration-style prints. There’s also a fabulous display of wines – a nod to the hotel’s National AA Wine Award. ‘We wanted to make more of a feature of our wine list,’ says Laurence. ‘So now it’s very much on show as guests enter the newly refurbished restaurant.’
Head chef Chris Cleghorn is already enjoying his swanky new kitchen with state of the art technology which he’s using to create contemporary culinary dishes. Style, comfort and a bit of quirk – it’s Bath in a nutshell.