Story and photos by Norma Davidoff
Additional photos courtesy of Gainsborough Bath Spa and VisitBritain
Gainsborough Bath Spa
Best in its Class
The train station sign reads Bath Spa. That alone gave me a jolt. I was staying at the only hotel in all of the United Kingdom whose spa is fed by natural hot springs. The Gainsborough Bath Spa and Hotel is new on the scene in Bath, after a 35 million pound renovation. Spas have been part of the city of Bath for thousands of years, starting with the Romans who occupied the area. Taking the waters became popular here in the 1700’s and all “in the know” in society came to this beautifully preserved architecturally splendid city.
The Gainsborough, with its original Georgian and Victorian façades, is one of the Leading Hotels of the World – elegant, with great service, and a lot more. Its true distinction is the spa, and its pools, which I was eager to try. Before I experienced those pools, I was given tea with rosemary and peppermint. Next I was given four choices of aroma. “Smell the oils and choose one.” I chose a small sheer bag filled with plump grains of pink salt doused in an enchanting scent. I was instructed to carry it for days. And I did!
Then I scooted into the bath house and its group of pools. All the pools are a perfect shade of marine blue, set against touches of white and the warm beige stone of Bath. A variety of jets offer massage, gentle to pounding, wherever you place your body.
As I plunged in, a woman smiled contentedly and whispered, “You can feel the healing.” After that, I was instructed to hose myself down with cold water. The mineral rich water was exhilarating. Then it was on to the infrared sauna with a quick break for a drink of Georgian chocolate. After, I stretched out on a lounge overlooking the pools.
I was already a smiling relaxed bag of bones even before I chose the Ginger Renewal massage. It started with a scrub, then a swathing of very warm water all over my body; next I was wrapped in hot towels like a mummy. An hour and a half sped by with Adam, yes Adam, at the helm, massaging my head, neck and scalp, ever so perfectly. I was limp, yet buoyant after all of this and was advised to go to the deck and rest.
All too soon, I charged up to my suite with its welcome of truffles and a bottle of champagne on ice. My spacious suite, with its high ceilings and walls painted a sophisticated dark grey-green, consisted of an elegant sitting area and large bedroom.
Designed by Alexandra Champalimaud, these gracious suites work well for family or business travel. Bedtime offers a VIP treatment turndown. Blinds are drawn and on my pillow was a Shakespeare poem with a sprig of dried lavender. Ah sweet sleep. Ah sweet suite!
The suite has little details that matter --- a heated towel rack, a small refrigerator, stocked with drinks (gratis), and two superb giant TV’s. The experienced staff goes out of their way to meet your needs. The concierges deserve badges for grace under pressure. That’s how good they are.
The Gainsborough has the Canvas Room for business or social meet-ups over high tea or drinks. There is a staggering menu of gin drinks. Its restaurant, Dan Moon at the Gainsborough delivers inventive dinners and bountiful breakfasts, complete with a real honeycomb. Just cut yourself a slice. I did!
Gainsborough’s manager, Brian Benson, in his Scottish brogue, told me, “You’re bathing in history and bathing heritage. These waters are life-giving.” I would agree. I left the Gainsborough ready to face the world in a far better frame of mind and body.
IF YOU GO:
The Gainsborough Bath, Spa, Beau Street, Bath, UK
Telephone: +44-(0)225-368-888, Reservations: +44 (0) 800-529-8000
For guests of the hotel, spa facilities are complimentary. Services are additional.
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