Short stay: Country Living Lansdown Grove Hotel, Bath, UK
Country Living Lansdown Grove Hotel is not just a hotel, it’s a radical new concept, a way of living. Sat high on one of Bath’s seven hills, the hotel looks down on a UNESCO World Heritage City and over Somerset’s green hills and valleys.
“An escape from the ordinary” is the hotel’s motto. Decor brings to life the style of Country Living, one of Britain’s best selling lifestyle magazines. There are times when guests feel – as they are relaxing in the library, lounge or bar – that they are part of a carefully curated magazine shoot.
Reception has become a lounge with a vast rural landscape backdrop that is instantly soothing. The receptionist, sits at a large desk and guests sit too in comfy armchairs. The message is simple, “Relax. Take it easy.”
Set in to the peripheries of the desk, like a museum display case, are fragments of stone from Bath’s Roman Empire glory days, a reminder of the architectural riches this city has to offer.
Portions of this Grade 2 listed building date from the 18th century so this is a building of character with arches, balconies, curves, spaces and vistas.
Decor in the rooms is country-chic with edgy contemporary touches. Prints of a birds-nest, a sheaf of wheat and a brooding rural landscape bring the country into the city but a dark-grey slate feature wall is unexpected.
Beds are welcoming with fluffy duvets and warming throws. Kettle, coffee maker and biscuits stand ready for afternoon or early morning tea. A discretely wall-mounted large flat-screen television is a subtle reminder of the 21st century.
Copies of Country Living magazine are artfully positioned on a coffee table. For many guests their stay is as much an education in interior design as that “escape from the ordinary.”
In a building centuries old, bathrooms are often irregularly shaped and probably a little larger than is standard in a hotel. Amongst the bright lighting and mirrors, a statement feature of monochrome tiling, featuring a range of geometric designs, makes an impact.
Currently there is generous provision of HK toiletries but there is talk of a distinctive range of Country Living toiletries. You can imagine the floral scent probably accompanied by a slightly decadent heady infusion …
There’s a Regency balance to the architecture of the restaurant, with its classic proportions and domed ceilings, that sits at the heart of the hotel. Beginning with cereals, fruits and juices – guests select from a country-kitchen themed buffet whilst they wait for their traditional English breakfast – or scrambled eggs with salmon or whatever their choice.
Dinner is based on the flavours of the West Country but the menu is prepared to travel further afield for cosmopolitan influences. For a starter, popcorn cockles blend beachside salt and vinegar flavours with scallop roe as well as more exotic lime hollandaise. Another nod to the West Country’s traditional shoreline bounty is crispy whitebait with lemon and tartare sauce.
For a main course, the poached sea trout and scallops borrow from Italy for the mixed herb gnocchi but look to the Far East for the subtle flavours of lemongrass butter. Great British hearty traditions are not forgotten with prime British 28 day matured sirloin steak with wild mushrooms and triple cooked chips.
The strong West Country influence continues for dessert. Amongst the options are rhubarb cheesecake, apple tarte tatin and a five counties cheeseboard.
Just a short stroll down hill – the hotel is right on a bus route for the return journey – takes you into Bath. There’s far more to the city than it’s postcard sights of Roman Baths, Fashion Museum and Regency Crescent. Visit Milsom Street for some inspirational interior designers and artists studios. Nor is artisanal shopping along Walcott Street to be missed. For many guests, as Bath is the gateway to the West Country, the city is just the beginning of their explorations.
Other nice touches
Spacious beautifully decorated public areas make the hotel a charming place for friends to meet for a weekend or short break.
Linger in the library or lounge to catch-up and chat over coffee, before moving through to welcoming sofas in the bar for something, possibly, a little stronger.
Double-rooms, with breakfast, begin from around £95 per night.
The best bit
Just an easy stroll from the centre of historic Bath, one of Britain’s most beautiful cities, Country Living Lansdown Grove Hotel’s comfortable elegance fits in perfectly with its surroundings.
The final verdict
Bringing to life the pages of a magazine in a hotel was a daring concept but from the number of guests booking into the Lansdown Grove Hotel and its sister hotel – Country Living St George in Harrogate – the move is undoubtedly a success.
Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Country Living Lansdown Grove Hotel.