But not according to author, Jane Austen.
Apparently Jane was not a fan during the five years her family resided in Bath. She sorely missed her slow-paced, country life and found Bath society to be frivolous and pretentious. Fortunately for us she vented via the written word. Her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were set in Bath and describe in delicious detail many locations that are still around.
Today, Bath retains its vibrancy, style and sophistication without any upwardly tilted noses. There is such an abundance of unique things to see and do in this UNESCO World Heritage Site, that it has become one of my top ten Girlfriend Getaway recommendations. But beware; Bath is the kind of place that unravels slowly. At first glance, the town’s golden hued buildings felt a bit bland and left us cold, yet two days later, we were already planning our return visit.
Royal Crescent Hotel: Passing thru the ivy covered entrance way of this venerable architectural gem (no signage allowed– too ostentatious) we felt like extras on a movie set. This masterpiece of European architecture, designed by John Wood the younger, strives to maintain its 18th century understated elegance; however a few parts are edging over towards shabbiness.
The 45 recently renovated period rooms vary greatly in size and amenities, but the secret garden and grounds (wonderful for alfresco dining) and the tranquil Bath House spa, converted from the former coach house and stables, are available to all guests. After our nurturing massages, we eased over for a float in the 12 meter relaxation pool, and then chortling like children, we plunged in and out of the hot and cold tubs. The spa offers a wide range of holistic treatments combined with cutting edge cosmetic enhancements.
We only had breakfast at the hotel, and although we found the food to be delicious (best kippers of the trip) the service was very disorganized and almost laughably pretentious.
The hotel is a who’s who of well-heeled clientele. We loved chatting up another guest, the gorgeous Mary Wilson, of the original Supremes. She was in town for the opening of a new exhibit, “The Story of the Supremes.” More than 50 of the group’s original stage costumes, from the Mary Wilson Collection, were on display at the Fashion Museum, housed in the magnificent 18th century Assembly Rooms.
The Royal Crescent Hotel, (featured in above picture) a member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux collection, is located in the poshest nabe in Bath, about a 15 min. stroll to the center of town. Just a few steps away, is No. 1 Royal Crescent, the first house John Wood built in the crescent. Touring this impeccably restored townhouse, beautifully appointed with authentic furniture, paintings and textiles, gives you a first hand sense of how very well the fashionable lived in 18th century Bath. Each room has a curator happy to divulge all the details.