I may be maturing like a fine wine, or a ripe stilton if you prefer, but I am not yet ready to stay overnight in an overpriced, prissy, over decorated, over-rated, over the top Regency guest house in Bath. My heart sank when I saw the pot-pourri on the heavy oak dressing table, the red ribbon tied in a fancy bow round the spare toilet roll in the bathroom, the frothy net curtains around the allegedly four poster bed. It wasn’t in truth a four poster bed and I knew it would be more like sleeping in a shroud with all that net flapping around. Even more down heartening was the stuffy, stiffly furnished residents’ drawing room complete with the cheap port in the mock crystal decanter one third full and the pair of matching mock crystal glasses. I dreaded breakfast. I knew it would be in a hushed dining room and us having to nod polite ‘Good Mornings’ to complete strangers with sleep still in their eyes and who I’d never, hopefully, see again. Yes, it was a comfortable and clean bed, an adequate breakfast (boil in the bag kipper fillets? Why bother?) and ten minutes walk into the centre of Bath, but that was it. The house had apparently had an atmosphere by-pass. The beautifully proportioned Regency rooms had been lopped about to enable en-suite facilities to be installed but it wasn’t particularly well done. It’s only redeeming feature was that it had a large driveway and ample free residents’ car parking. all at a premium in Bath-but £95.00 for a double room and breakfast? The description above applies to several of the guest houses we’ve stayed at overnight in Bath over the last year. I’d had enough of red bows tied round the spare toilet roll. Staying in guest houses like this make me think I needed to be a Mrs Bucket, or Bouquet, in the making and I most certainly am not and hopefully never will be. The recommendation in the Sunday Times for the newly opened Milsoms Hotel i n Milsom S treet right in the centre of Bath and directly above the Loch Fyne restaurant certainly looked like a much better choice. The article quoted £75.00 for a double room to include breakfast in the Loch Fyne restaurant below and £95.00 for a suite with breakfast. I noted there is no on street parking, I expected that in the city centre, but the long stay car park at Charlotte Street was a short distance away. I was very attracted by the description of the six standard rooms and three suites as modern, clean, and minimalist yet beautifully converted from an old bank. Before I booked I visited the website at: www.milsomshotel.co.uk for more information and began my booking online but then continued my reservations by telephone just because I felt like it, but it is worth an online visit and there is ample information on there and its well laid out. So were there any red ribbons here then? There most certainly was not. The entrance to the Milsom Hotel is in Milsom Street, a short street with smart, typical Bath boutique upmarket shops. Through the large entrance doors and the thick, luxurious dove grey fitted carpets leading us up a wide sweeping staircase to the first floor reception area with the original black wrought iron Regency banisters giving a good sense of even more high-quality good taste to come. Reception welcomed us politely and quickly took us to our standard double room on the fourth floor. There are no lifts so this should be taken into account before booking, although there is wheelchair access to the Loch Fyne restaurant. The room was delightful. High ceilings, everything in cream, white and black, sash windows with floor to ceiling brown suede curtains. Wooden floors, wrought iron light fittings, large simple, modern and extremely comfortable double bed, simple wardrobes, a desk and superb leather yet modern and very comfy armchairs. The bathroom had a power shower, not my favourite thing and I understand that the sui tes have claw-footed Victorian baths, good ventilation, a more than adequate supply of moisturisers, shampoos, conditioners and loads of fluffy white towels in a variety of sizes. There was a telephone, an available Internet connection, a good size television, the usual tea and coffee facilities and a menu for the Loch Fyne restaurant that made me impatient for my dinner, which has to be booked separately, and even my breakfast the next morning and this was only the Saturday lunchtime. The conversion of the beautiful Regency rooms in the old Bank had been expertly carried out-and there wasn’t a red bow in sight. I was in minimalist heaven! Eager to book a restaurant table for that evening in the Loch Fyne restaurant we sat in the small but elegant downstairs bar and had a lunch-time drink, booked a table with ease and knew we would be very comfortable both here and in our room. The Loch Fyne restaurant is one of a small chain of seafood restaurants that uses only sustainable produce so with this in mind it deserves a review of its own although I will describe breakfast as that is included in your overnight stay. After the usual shopping frenzy that always takes me over in Bath, we off loaded our purchases and Morty was full of praise for the overhead power shower. My dislike of showers meant I avoided it like the plague. Hotel rooms without a bath that only offer a shower always lose a point from me. Dinner was a highlight of the day. The service was very efficient and polite. The atmosphere was terrific with the citizens of Bath illustrating how they enjoy good food and my, they are all dressed so smartly. As is the norm these days the entire restaurant is non-smoking but smoking is allowed in the bar. Our meal included fish soup, hake, moules, scallops with a varied wine list and not bad puddings. Prices are really affordable with first courses from around £3.50 and main courses available from about £10.00. A good eating experience. A negative point. The Milsom hotel is right in the city centre, the night was very hot and we had the windows open. We were woken from a very comfortable and deep sleep at around two thirty in the morning with the usual sounds of the late party goers walking home. Because I was in minimalist heaven this didn’t concern me too much although it may trouble others, and of course with the windows in the colder months shut we might not have heard anything at all. Breakfast was a happy affair. Not the usual guest house buffet table with the bowls of tired looking Meusli, jugs of fruit juice and bowls of prunes but the same standard of service as the evening before. Because the Milsom has only nine rooms there is plenty of space to avoid the other guests. The coffee was really fresh, they even source good organic butchers’ sausages, and proper bacon and baker’s bread and Morty had a pair of happy kippers that had never seen a boil-in-the-bag. Good bit of music playing quietly and that lovely clutter of background kitchen noises as the chefs begin their mis-en-place for the lunchtime session. Another negative point. If you are a stranger to Bath, then being advised to park in Charlotte Street long stay overnight car park is rather useless if you don’t know where it is in the first place. Like all cities Bath is full of one way systems. Consequently, on our arrival we got hopelessly lost, hot and bothered, started to shout at each other and had to keep asking directions. When we did eventually find it, it cost £6.50 to park overnight and it was more than just a little walk with a suitcase and the usual paraphernalia. I would advice anybody considering staying in the Milsom Hotel to either go by train and get a taxi from the station, or as we intend to do on our next visit, make for the Park ‘n’ Ride which cost £1.50 overnight and the bus takes the visitor right outside the main entrance of the Milsom Hotel. Got that? The Milsoms Hotel is amazing value for Bath city centre. It was a pleasure to stay there but next time I want a suite, which remember is the same price, £95.00, as those awful Mrs Bucket type guest houses with the stale port in the drawing room and that infernal red ribbon round the toilet roll. The added bonus is the excellent Loch Fyne restaurant downstairs which I consider un-missable. I’ve told you the negative side but the positive far outweigh those and we are looking forward to our next opportunity to spend a night or two at the very comfortable Milsoms Hotel in Bath. Milsoms Hotel 01225 750128 www.milsomshotel.co.uk 24 Milsom Street, Bath
I've stayed in the Bath Spa quite a few times over the past year and a half. A five star hotel, set in grounds, overlooking glorious Bath. The hotel has supposedly been voted British hotel of the year twice in the past few years. The hotel is an old manor house and was used by Churchill to plan some of his war tactics. Inside is very grand, from the foyer, with its great open fire place to its corridors, resturant, drawing room and the bedrooms themselves. Last year it went through a major refurbishment and all the rooms now have large TV's/CD and radio/Spacious, luxurious bathrooms etc etc. All you would expect from such a classy establishment. The bath robes are so soft and fluffy, you could sleep in them, with no need for a bed. It has a health centre attached with a well equiped gym and good sized pool. It also offers spa treatments for the ladies (or men if you're that way inclinded). The hotel prices are of course, reassuringly expensive, and for this reason, it's usually full of old Americans annoying everybody with their foot long cigars and blue rinses. The standard rooms start at £155 per night and go to £225. Suites begin at £285 per night. Standard breakfast is £12. Spa treatments start at around £25 and go up to however much you feel like spending. The hotel will park your car when you arrive, clean it for you while you "relax", book theatre tickets and arrange this, that and the other. All the stuff you'd expect from a hotel of this nature. However, the hotel has recently been taken over by the MacDonald group (it was previously Heritage Hotels) and I have noticed a slight drop in standards since. Nothing serious. The toiletries have changed to your bog standard hotel rubbish, they take slightly longer to check you in and book you out etc. Like I said nothing serious, but when the something was so good, you notice even the smallest drop in standards. However, all in all and excellent hotel. Slightly too snooty for me but when work pays for you to stay in luxury, why argue?