Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Hotel's Liquid Asset; SARAH TURNER Takes the Waters at Bath's Newest Luxury Hotel to Discover Her Inner Jane Austen and Roman Goddess

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Hotel's Liquid Asset; SARAH TURNER Takes the Waters at Bath's Newest Luxury Hotel to Discover Her Inner Jane Austen and Roman Goddess

Article excerpt

| Johann Lafer's restaurant serves delicious European food AS I stepped over the threshold of the Gainsborough Hotel I found myself wondering - what would Jane think? The novelist Jane Austen, that is, whose waspish presence - along with that of the Celts, Romans, Victorians and even the New Age travellers - hangs over the honeystoned city of Bath.

I had feared that The Gainsborough, which only officially opened a few months ago - might be marbled and mannered, especially as only a few journalists had been allowed through its door.

The first surprise is that the hotel has its own collection of Roman coins - part of the Beau Street Hoard - which was discovered during rebuilding work. More than that, it has one thing no other hotel in Britain has: its own source of piping hot thermal water.

A few rooms have baths with three taps rather than two - the last one being for your own private supply of mineral-enriched, centuries-old water, which comes out of the earth at a 46degC via a nearby borehole (thoughtfully, the hotel cools it a bit before it hits your bath).

But even if you don't bag one of those rooms, there's still the hotel spa. It's reserved for guests for two hours in the morning and the evening - and if you book a treatment, you'll get access to it between those times.

Tricked out with Romanesque columns and mosaics, there is a series of pools of different heats along with sauna, steam rooms, ice cave and central pool, with sun loungers - and a constant supply of hot chocolate.

"It's our nod to the Georgians," said one of the staff. I nodded approvingly.

It's not a stuffy hotel, there's a West Country warmth here that seem to flow as easily as the spa water. The Celts may have discovered Bath's hot water springs around 100BC, but it was the Romans who used them in buildings that allowed them to soak away the British winter in comfort.

For PS14 you can also visit the nearby Roman Baths (www.romanbaths.co.uk), which sends you down below ground level to a series of bubbling springs in a complex of buildings only slightly less elaborate than the Gainsborough's spa.

A millennium-and-a half later, the Georgians lapped it up as everyone who was anyone - including Jane Austen and family - came to Bath. …

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