As far as a girls-only break goes, Bath has it all. Great transport links, so you can leave the car at home, great shopping – ranging from high street to boutique – a profusion of fabulous restaurants and bars, a museum dedicated to fashion and, perhaps most importantly, access to the UK’s only naturally occurring hot mineral waters.
Anyone sensing a flaw in this fabulousness? Yep, exactly: modern women want more than just to ‘treat’ themselves and be pampered – they want their brains to be stimulated too. They want to be inspired, impassioned and ignited.
Enter the Gainsborough Bath Spa: not only is it a 5-star cocoon of luxury, wellness, exquisite food, 99 sumptuous rooms and – let’s be real here – a bar with over 40 varieties of gin – but it’s also a hotel that falls under the YTL umbrella.
If you’re not already familiar with YTL, that’s because the Gainsborough Bath Spa is their first UK hotel (look out for Monkey Island, opening later this year) – but their ethos is all about doing the right thing, and doing it well. This means not only maintaining consistently high standards, but also putting back into the community and, in supporting educational and social initiatives, helping to develop future thinkers, doers and dreamers.
Last year, the hotel hosted a series of sold-out talks entitled ‘Phenomenal Women’ and will build on this success with more events this year. Taking their name from the Maya Angelou poem ‘Phenomenal Woman,’ the sessions are held in the hotel’s chapel with tickets priced at £15 each, including bubbles, canapes and the opportunity to network before the main event.. Each talk is delivered by a high-achieving businesswoman, sharing insights into her route to success: obstacles, coups, low points and all. Afterwards, a guided discussion is led by a member of the University of West England’s Bristol Business School.
It’s a fitting theme for a city that has such strong historical links with two phenomenal women. Although Jane Austen’s relationship with Bath is well known, and acknowledged by way of The Austen Centre and annual celebrations, its importance to Frankenstein often goes under the radar: only last year was a plaque in Bath unveiled to mark the 200th anniversary of the novel, which was largely written by Shelley, herself the daughter of feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, during her time in the city.
As already mentioned, the Gainsborough Bath Spa doesn’t lack anything in the way of being deeply cosseting and relaxing, either. As well as being the home of the critically-acclaimed, three AA Rosette Dan Moon Restaurant, it’s the only hotel in the UK to have access to those aforementioned thermal waters: the waters for which Bath was swooped upon by the Romans and flocked to by cure-seeking gentility in Georgian times. Indeed, the word ‘spa’ is an acronym of the Latin ‘salus per aquam’ – health by way of water – and, while I don’t have any particular ailments at the moment, the mineral-packed waters that I experience on the hotel’s indulgent pool circuit definitely have a soothing and clarifying effect. Therapies designed to refresh both body and spirit are offered in blissful treatment rooms; I opt for the Rose Renewal facial which, my therapist tells me, will leave me looking 10 years younger. When we finish, she exclaims “Fifteen!” – and although I don’t dare set too much store by that tempting mental image, I can’t deny that I look dewy and radiant, a fact that’s done no harm by an incredible night’s sleep on a bed that’s sinfully vast and comfortable. Verdict? Any phenomenal woman seeking rejuvenation and inspiration in the one place should book a stay here immediately.
The Gainsborough Bath Spa, Beau Street, Bath BA1 1QY