Some hotels have a great location and beautiful decor, others superb food and drink; there are those with spectacular spa facilities and immaculate service… and then there’s The Gainsborough Bath Spa, which has all of those and more.

Not least, it boasts the only natural thermal spa within a hotel in the UK.

Then there are the extra benefits for booking direct, including a complimentary bottle of champagne, 20 per cent off spa treatments and free 60-minute massages for overnight stays from Sunday to Thursday.

Yes, the hotel, tucked away in the centre of Bath, offers a truly five star service from the moment your car is valet parked until you reluctantly take your leave.

It’s easy to see why it was voted AA Hotel of the Year, England 2017/2018 and Best Hotel in the UK 2017 in Condé Nast Traveler Awards (USA).

Negotiating some narrow side streets, we arrived at the establishment named after the famed artist Thomas Gainsborough, who lived in the city with his family from 1759 to 1774.

It occupies two 18th century Grade II Listed buildings with distinguished Georgian and Victorian façades and was originally built as the Royal United Hospital and Bellott’s Hospital.

A lot has been done to it since then.

The YTL group’s first hotel in the UK (and the only accommodation in Bath to be included in the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World family) its redesign has been sensitively and stylishly handled by New York based Champalimaud Design.

There are 99 guest rooms which combine period details and references with classy modern decor. As well as deluxe (25 sqm) and classic (30 sqm) rooms, there is accommodation for guests with impaired mobility and suites of various sizes, including a duplex.

For an immersive spa experience there is the Bath Spa Room or the Bath Spa Suite which offer alcove roll-top bathtubs for in-bathroom access to the natural healing thermal waters.

However, we were happy to don our fluffy robes and slippers to make our way to the hotel’s spa. It’s not to be confused with the nearby Thermae Bath Spa day spa but it does have the privilege of access to the natural thermal waters.

During our mid-week stay we found a serene atmosphere at the spa’s three thermal pools, infrared sauna, steam room and ice cove. The main pool, with a variety of water jets, was bathed in natural light from a four-storey glass atrium.

And we also had a few surprises: first was on arrival when we were given essential oils to smell at the aroma bar and our favourites blended with sea salts to inhale on the suggested Bath House Circuit; a lovely touch. Second was the discovery of a spiced hot chocolate dispenser, a drink enjoyed in Georgian days by those who had come to take the waters. It seemed a little strange to be indulging in the sweet treat in our swimsuits but when in Bath...

The third surprise, for me, was a male masseur. I did momentarily think of asking for a woman but I was glad I didn’t. My treatment (detox and tone, 90 minutes, £180 weekdays, £225 weekends) was professionally and skilfully administered, from the exfoliating scrub, through the application of algae, head massage and following body massage. Bliss!

Then it was off to retox at Dan Moon at The Gainsborough Restaurant.

At the three AA Rosettes restaurant headed by West Country born Dan Moon we tried the six course tasting menu (£60, with optional wine flight £32.50). We knew we were in for a treat when the bread arrived - three small loaves of pumpkin seed, a rosemary milkbun and cheddar and red onion, each with a matching butter (black garlic, sea salt and tomato and olive crumb). Dan uses good locally sourced produce, and each course that followed was equally good: smooth chicken liver parfait; roast plum tomato soup with tangy goat’s curd; smoked fillet of beef; a shellfish risotto with a perfectly cooked sauteed scallop; duck with a crispy spring roll and a dreamy dessert of lemon mousse, raspberry sorbet and burnt meringue.

After that it was a short waddle up to our well-appointed bedroom with all the usual top class hotel essentials of high thread count linen, fluffy towels, good toiletries, TV (with 110 channels including Sky Sports) and Nespresso machine.

And then there was free wifi and complimentary mini bar – just a couple more extras that make The Gainsborough extra special.

THE FACTS The Gainsborough Bath Spa is at Beau Street, Bath, BA1 1QY

  • BOOK: Call 01225 358 888 or 0800 529 8000, email or go online at
  • Room rates start at £285
  • VISIT: Do not miss the spectacular Bath Abbey, The Roman Baths and Thermae Bath Spa, Britain’ s only natural thermal spa.