Former model, mother and owner of fabulous Notting Hill toy shop, Honeyjam, Jasmine Guinness writes exclusively for kodomo on a recent getaway with her husband without their children. They visited hip bath hangout, The Gainsborough Hotel, for a spa, some sleep and a seriously good breakfast.
Photo credit: Adam Fussel
When my husband and I pulled up outside The Gainsborough Hotel in Bath, late on a wet Friday evening, having battled the traffic and argued about directions, we were well overdue a rest. The excitement was palpable. We were away for the weekend! Having been parents for 15 years we had never done this before. There had been a week away 13 years ago when we only had one kid but not much since. We love travelling as a family so to leave them all behind felt wrong….but the prospect of real sleep was intoxicating.
Walking into the reception of the Gainsborough was a huge relief after our fractious journey. The staff were incredibly welcoming and ushered us up to our heavenly room. It was just the right balance between comfort and beauty with two huge windows overlooking the Thermae baths and Bath Cathedral, both sparkling in the wet night light.
We scurried downstairs, ravenous after our long journey and were not disappointed by the menu. Full of modern combinations of traditional food, I found all my favourites. I had tender scallops followed by delicious lamb washed down with lovely red wine. We ate and drank as if we never had before. No one to persuade to eat their dinner or sit down. Just us. Grown ups. So of course we behaved like kids….
Having giggled all over our beautiful puddings we wandered out to see Bath at night. This didn’t last that long as it was drizzling but it was lovely to see the Georgian buildings all slick and shiny in the lamp light. Back in our room the real luxury wasn’t just the incredible linen and comfortable bed but the fact that we knew for sure that no one would wake us needing a pee in the night (except perhaps us, of course).
We woke, amazingly, feeling refreshed. The child radar had been properly off all night and I could feel the difference. This is what people meant when they said that every couple needed a break from their kids occasionally; now I understood! I always thought they had been exaggerating.
We ran down to the best full (and I mean full!) breakfast I had ever had with masses of tea and even managed to read a paper or two. We then slowly meandered out the door to check out Bath, which was rocking. There were street markets and food stalls, tiny independent shops and lovely old pubs. Sadly, we didn’t have long before our spa ritual but we didn’t want to miss a minute of that.
We were welcomed into the beautiful spa by a charming team. We were given a probiotic drink to start our cleansing process from within (a brilliant touch and utterly delicious), then we were sat down at an aromatherapy bar to figure out what should be in our Neals Yard scented salt bag to keep with us during our treatments. We had a bit of time in the spa before our treatment so we dove right in. There are three different pools at different temperatures with the restorative Bath springs flowing into the spa. No other hotel can claim that, I don’t think. The steam room and different pools could have kept us busy all day, but we had a date with some magnesium.
We had chosen the magnesium wrap as our treatment as it is known for its replenishing powers and it is very good for helping aid sleep. Most of us are magnesium deficient as it is what we use up when we are stressed or tired, so this was perfect for resting parents. We started with an invigorating salt rub, great to get all that winter skin off. The magnesium massage and wrap was incredible, quite simply one of the best massages I have ever had. I felt like a butterfly coming out of its chrysalis! Refreshed, renewed and relaxed. All we could then manage in such a relaxed state was to collapse on our amazing bed and sleep – during the day, no less!
Feeling guilty that it was finally sunny outside, we gathered what was left of our wits and stumbled out like moles. Bath is so beautiful it soon had our eyes on stalks and took our breath away. I am a huge fan of Georgian architecture and couldn’t believe the beauty that surrounded us. I felt like a kid in a sweet shop! Everywhere you turn you find another beautiful street, alley, perfectly balanced circus or crescent of buildings. We found ourselves in a proper pub called “The Star,” built in the 1700’s. Pints during the day….another rare treat.
We wandered back to our haven of a room and collapsed, yet again. We watched terrible telly (which was a joy) and took our rare chance for an early night to make the most of our time away.
The next day was Sunday and I dragged my reluctant husband out of our comfy bed to take him to the nearby Roman Baths. One of my favourite subjects at school was Classics so I couldn’t believe we could visit a real Roman bath. It didn’t disappoint. Despite its many rebuilds you can still see how it would have looked all that time ago. With ancient arches and beautiful mosaics, all the Roman underfloor heating and statues, it was so inspiring. We then tasted the water straight from the spring (horrid) before going crazy with “guilt buys” for the children in the shop.
It was with a heavy heart that we packed up our bags and checked out. Brian, the manager, was as helpful as ever and although I felt much better than when we arrived I hated leaving. Our car was brought round to the door by a charming valet and the final beautiful Gainsborough touch was a box of mints in the car; such luxury and attention to detail you rarely see. I can’t wait to go back.