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The Gainsborough Bath Spa: hotel review

Check out our expert hotel review of The Gainsborough Bath Spa, including where to eat and drink nearby

What is The Gainsborough’s USP?

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The Gainsborough Bath Spa is one of the city’s newest five-star hotels and the only one with a spa that has natural thermal water on-tap.


And the general vibe?

The spa is the hotel’s big selling point; much quieter than Thermae Bath Spa opposite, though be warned that hotel guests only have limited access to its steam rooms and pools unless they book a treatment. Bedrooms are smart and comfortable but they can feel a little dark; we like 301 where windows on two sides let in plenty of light, as well as rooftop views over Bath’s honey-stone buildings.


What’s the food like?

Johann Lafer at The Gainsborough houses a trio of spaces, with two wings leading off a masculine main area dressed with rows of wenge-style tables. For more atmosphere, book a table behind the glossy floor-to-ceiling wine cabinet, where chalky blue walls, a dramatic black fireplace and circular tables add glamour.

The menu’s east-meets-Southwest fusion dishes have been designed by Michelin-starred Austrian chef Johann Lafer and are meticulously executed by his protégée, Georg Schneeberger. Highlights include roast rack of Wiltshire lamb with a Szechuan pepper crust.

Cheese lovers won’t want to miss the selection of West Country favourites supplied by aptly named local company Pong. Our top picks? Nettle-wrapped Cornish yarg, Farleigh Wallop goat’s cheese with thyme, and Bath blue.


Where can I eat and drink nearby?

Festive menus can be underwhelming if you’re veggie, but not at Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen. Meat-free food here means exquisite cooking and presentation – think seared braised fennel with pistachio pâté, chickpeas in a smoked tomato sauce, green olives and a saffron lemon gel – and there’s always a well-crafted house cocktail (plum Bellini anyone?) on offer.


What can I do while I’m there?

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Go before Christmas and you’ll be able to enjoy one of England’s prettiest Christmas markets while you’re in town. Dominated by the city’s floodlit Abbey, its stalls are housed in a cluster of wooden cabins, and 70% of the foods and crafts on sale are locally made. Look out for Tea People’s single-estate teas, Somerset pomona, Bath gin and pungent Wyfe of Bath cheese.


Get insider tips on the independent food and drink scene from travel editor Rhiannon

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