You know when you go away with the family and you have about ten suitcases and a few extra carrier bags stuffed in every gap in the car boot, just for good measure? Yeah, last weekend was NOTHING like that.
I jumped in my car, solo. I had a handbag and a small overnight bag. Nothing else. No baby wipes, toys, emergency snacks or husband paraphernalia (my man really needs to invest in a man bag). I simply took my phone, wallet, a dress, pair of high heels, some PJs and a bag of make-up. I felt like I was in a state of heightened luxury before I even reached the end of the road.
I was heading to the Francis Hotel in Bath, to meet my oldest friend for a belated joint 30th birthday celebration.
When I arrived, I managed to bag the last space in the car park, which was a huge stroke of luck. It was at that moment I felt blessed to have a tiny car that squeezed into the miniature space in between two enormous Landrovers. Sometimes bigger isn’t always better.
Check-in was in the swish hotel lobby – all comfy armchairs, regency furniture and modern prints. Every surface gleamed with fresh polish. Huge vases of lillies perfumed the air. My grin spread wider.
We stayed in a Superior Room. The carpet was plush, the sheets were Egyptian cotton, there was an espresso machine for my coffee-loving friend and matching fluffy bathrobes. I fear our hysterical “Oohs” of excitement may have been heard four rooms down.
For a room of this rate (£284 a night) I would have hoped to find a bath to luxuriate in, so I was a bit disappointed not to discover one. The shower was incredible though, like standing underneath a huge waterfall of soft, warm water.
There was the obligatory comfy chair, swanky desk and spacious wardrobe. All in all, we were feeling pretty pleased with how our Saturday was panning out.
For me, regardless of the plush surroundings inside the hotel, its main boast is the location. Slap bang in the centre of lovely Bath, it’s the perfect spot to do a bit of exploring of the city. It’s moments away from the Jane Austen centre, Pump Rooms and Thermae Bath Spa. On the doorstep you’ll find lanes with independent shops selling everything from cheese to scarves, plus restaurants, pubs and bars galore.
Our afternoon consisted of wandering unhindered around the shops, peeking in pretty windows and browsing the food section of M&S (you’ve got to take your child-free pleasures when you can get them). We talked, incessently, only coming up for air in between sentences to gasp at some twinkly festive lights or take a photo. We may be 20 years older but our passion for
gossip conversation has not changed one bit.
Back in our decadent hotel room, we took it in turns to take way longer than usual in the shower. It was an impressive shower, made even more so without the constant attentions of a three year old needing assistance on the toilet. Donning those fluffy bathrobes, we painted nails, buffered newly-shaven legs and blow-dried hair. We also talked some more, nibbled on carrots and hummus and sipped fizz.
And more fizz…
The evening was spent eating delicious Thai food in the Thai Balcony restaurant nearby, followed by cocktails and dancing in a couple of bars up the road. A bottle of fizz and a couple of cocktails down, we got in with some selfie action. Don’t judge us.
The following morning we padded down to the breakfast area where we scoffed eggs benedict with pots of tea and bowls of fresh fruit, all included in the cost of the hotel room.
If I was to go to Bath for a pamper weekend away again, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay in the Francis Hotel a second time around. But perhaps next time I might pay by cash rather than card. When you check into the hotel you swipe your card, but you don’t pay the balance until you check out. Something went wrong with my first card swipe though, so I ended up paying for the room twice, leaving me out of pocket for a few days afterwards. The hotel were quick to sort it out for me though, and I’m told that’s never happened before.
There’s a restaurant and bar inside the hotel, which we didn’t try out, but they both looked pretty impressive. Staff were friendly, welcoming and efficient. And the bed, well… let’s just say I returned home incredibly well rested despite the late night and the cocktails. Apparently Egyptian cotton sheets really are all that.
Disclosure: We were guests of The Francis Hotel in Bath, for the purpose of this review.