Elegant, glamorous, and just a little bit quirky, The Queensberry Hotel is the perfect setting for a weekend in Bath. We’re here in England’s spa city for a staycation of indulgence, pampering and all-out relaxation, seeking out the best experiences the city has to offer, so this fabulous hotel seemed like the obvious choice.
Update: As of January 2015, the Queensberry Hotel is officially the South West’s Best Hotel, having been awarded the title of ‘Best Hotel’ at Food Magazine’s Food Readers Awards 2015. The award is very much deserved!
Situated in an ideal location right in the city centre, The Queensberry is a stone’s throw from the popular Royal Crescent and a few minute’s walk from the shops, museums and sites of the centre. But Russel Street is a quiet, residential setting which is the perfect escape from the bustle of the tourist sites and is part of an elite, old-fashioned neighbourhood where you can almost see Jane Austen characters hurrying to the Assembly Rooms just down the road.
The hotel itself, a beautiful Georgian building of Bath’s iconic honey-coloured bricks, is simply gorgeous. It’s also something of a tardis: although from the outside it looks pretty big, inside it’s absolutely enormous, with a confusing network of hallways and staircases which add to the atmosphere of grandeur and the uniqueness of the Queensberry experience. The décor, with rich purple carpets in the hallways, comfortably grand furnishings in the drawing room, and vintage-chic British trim in the bar has a sort of relaxed opulence; it’s luxurious without being ostentatious or intimidating. It’s also a little quirky, something that’s apparent as soon as you visit the website to book, with design inspiration taken from the hotel’s namesake, and original owner, the 8th Marquess of Queensberry. Or, more specifically, his descendant, the 9th Marquess, the man behind the Queensberry Rules of boxing, the base of the sport’s modern rules. Both men had plenty of old-fashioned eccentricities and that’s exactly what the hotel is emulating.
The Old Q Bar is where the character of the hotel really comes to life: taking the 9th Marquess as it’s inspiration, and particularly his contribution to the world of boxing, the bar really is as ‘Quintessentially British’ as possible, with regal furnishings, a stone fireplace, and loads of quirky trimmings that look like the collection of an eccentrically patriotic lord. There are the framed Georgian pen-and-ink cartoons, union jack cushions and rugs, and – my favourite – the British bulldog cushion. There’s even a revised set of the Queensberry rules at the back of the drinks menu – which contains an eclectic mix of classic and fun cocktails, as well as a very well-sourced collection of spirits – a tongue-in-cheek set of rules for proper Queensberry decorum, like number four: “the sign of a true gentleman, or lady, is to know one’s limit”.
Owners Laurence and Helen Beere aim to combine “old-fashioned attitudes to service and detail with sophisticated, modern comfort”, and I’d say they’ve nailed it. Particularly in terms of the service, which was impeccable; as soon as we arrived the staff were not only welcoming and polite but also extremely attentive, particularly in the bar and restaurant. We’d barely taken our seats in the empty Old Q Bar when a barman materialised to take our order and served us up some delicious cocktails, and down in The Olive Tree restaurant – which I’ll review separately – the staff treated us like the royalty we like to pretend we are. That’s what a stay at a hotel should be; a chance to escape reality and become, for a few days, VIPs.
Our room was the perfect example of the owners’ promise, with an equestrian-themed décor which celebrated the grandeur of the old-fashioned building and the spirit of the neighbourhood itself, seamlessly blending funky vintage elements with a sleek modern design. Every room in the building has been individually decorated with its own theme, the idea being that guests will feel less like they’re staying in another impersonal hotel room and more like they’re in a guest room at a cool friend’s house. Our room had creamy wallpaper printed with monochrome drawings of horses and hunting scenes, a really individualistic touch which instantly set a tone of upper-class Britishness. A regal grey and cream colour scheme and antique wooden furniture completed the style, but this was mixed with sleek modern trim for contemporary comfort; a flat-screen TV, MP3 docking station, and of course the sumptuously comfortable Vi-Spring bed, on which I enjoyed the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time.
When we first entered the room, the DAB digital radio was tuned to Classic FM to welcome us, creating a calming but luxurious ambience which matches with the theme of the room. The bathroom was a grand affair, with regal olive green paintwork, sparkling white tiles and vintage taps, and even the complimentary toiletries, all sourced from the fabulous range of Mrs White’s All Natural Home & Body Care, are quirkily vintage in both ingredients and packaging. The whole effect is fantastically old-fashioned and impressively opulent, but in no way imposing; the room was super comfortable and really did feel like a guest room, right down to the stack of second-hand books on the mantelpiece (I liked the inclusion of Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which is set in Bath and is one of my favourites) and the recent but worn magazines on the coffee table, which felt like recommendations from a friend.
The excellent service was especially apparent in the details, from the books in the room and the friendly but informative book of concierge’s recommendations to the complimentary tea and coffee in the beautifully decorated drawing room (not just tea but teas, a variety of them from the fab Teapigs range). There was no minibar in the room because instead there’s a 24-hour room service delivering freshly prepared drinks from the bar. And in the Olive Tree restaurant, breakfast is a drawn-out affair combining the classic continental buffet – involving amazing pastries, fresh fruit, juice, cereals and a freshly prepared smoothie of the day – with service suited to fine-dining and a range of hot food to order from the kitchen, not just the standard full English but delicious alternatives like French toast with crispy bacon and maple syrup. The Queensberry Hotel is all about comfort and indulgence, and with an attitude to service that combines deferential with informal and friendly, this really feels like a very special place to stay.
With a setting that’s like a cosy version of a National Trust stately home, a serious concentration on all the finer things in life, a few bizarre but lovable eccentricities and impeccable service, The Queensberry Hotel is a celebration of everything that’s great about hotels. It’s this clever, but unexpected, blend that makes this the ideal place to spend a few days unwinding in a right royal atmosphere that’s perfectly British and, more importantly, perfectly Bath.
The Queensberry Hotel – The Queensberry Hotel & Olive Tree Restaurant, Russel Street, Bath, BA1 2QF
READ MORE: Best Places to Stay in Bath – as recommended by REAL travellers.
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