Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Check into the Priory; with Pretty Rooms and Cheery Staff, the Bath Priory Is Pure Hotel Rehab Hotel Review

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Check into the Priory; with Pretty Rooms and Cheery Staff, the Bath Priory Is Pure Hotel Rehab Hotel Review

Article excerpt


THE next time I book into a hotel I'm going to ask whether the staff are English or European. The English have a habit of barking at you and giggling with each other behind the aspidistras, they can never remember what you ordered and probably spat in it anyway because they didn't like your shoes.

The Italians, the Spanish and the French, on the other hand, always have wonderful hair scooped into position with precision, they nod almost imperceptibly to the side when they acknowledge a request, and they have that special way with napkins.

The special way with napkins, the flourish that follows the perfected crease, the gentle way it's refolded and laid on your lap each time you've moved a centimetre, used to distress me. It's like being given a tricky ferret to look after.

But now I've grown to appreciate that if someone treats your napkin as if it's a live creature that needs grooming and nurturing, then the whole physical world becomes something that needs tending to. And this, when you're staying in a hotel, works wonderfully in your favour.

The Bath Priory is full of Europeans. Hello, they say, taking your bags, good morning, they say, pressing themselves against the wall as they pass you in the corridor, good evening, they say, as they whistle up the stairs carrying fresh towels and trays of tea. The way they move so fast, beaming so consummately, makes you feel as if you're in an especially friendly synchronisedswimming competition.

I'd like to live in Bath. All the buildings are made out of glorious stone.

And it has very good shops. Manolo Blahnik has his weekend home here, on the famous Royal Crescent.

Apparently it's piled high with shoes. I think to have a weekend home in a town when you already live in a city is especially sophisticated, like using tissue paper when you pack or writing with a pencil which you have to wet on your tongue first.

The Bath Priory does not seem to suffer by being the less well-known of Bath's two famous hotels. The worldrenowned Royal Crescent may have hot springs in its basement and Manolo as its neighbour but The Bath Priory seems perfectly capable of fending for itself.

It's a very happy place. Perhaps that's why so much of its decoration is yellow. The corridors are buttercup, my bedroom honeysuckle.

Everywhere else you go - the drawing room (well decorated, cosy), the spa (charming, if a little cramped) - there are splashes of smiley sunflower and mustard and ochre and lemon.

"Do take a look at the vegetable garden," someone will say behind you just as you are smelling the tiger lilies, or admiring the good collection of early 20th century portraits in the sitting room, "we have a particularly fine crop of artichokes this year, and the herbaceous borders are coming on a treat. …

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