It started with a row. The end of a long week, too much time in the office and on mobile devices. We were driving to Bath and then Cornwall where rest, relaxation and reconnecting were high on the agenda. After a quick return dash to the flat when someone shouted ‘walking boots’, we were on the road, making good time and the tensions of the morning began to melt away.
Our first stop was the glorious city of Bath; its golden coloured stone signifying the M4 was now a distant memory.The Royal Crescent is truly a marvel; Its Palladian façade designed by John Wood the Younger, an iconic landmark of sweeping beauty. Entering The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa feels like walking into a different world, a better world. True luxury at every turn shouldn’t mean stuffy and this hotel oozes effortless professionalism; staff are delightful, attentive and charming.
Behind the doors of the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa are forty-five rooms and suites and, at the heart of the hotel, a captivating secret garden with sculptures, eating areas, a garden swing (popular with instagrammers) and an arbour where, should you feel so inclined, wedding vows can be exchanged. We were in the Sir Percy Blakeney Suite, the only master suite to enjoy views both to the front over the crescent lawns and to the back overlooking the hotel’s gardens. The suite was vast and perfect, from the marble bathroom to the four-poster bed. The dreamy gardens proved too enticing and a glass of Picpoul de Pinet was enjoyed whilst admiring the beautiful plantings; the lavender, honeysuckle and roses. The luxury continued in the Spa & Bath House with its world-class facilities that feel as though you have sole use. A muscle melt massage incorporating hot stones was an excellent use of sixty minutes. The sense of calm continued in the award-winning Dower House restaurant with its spacious tables and views. Food allergies had been given prior thought and Oh, the revelation that gluten free bread can be light of crumb and delicious! The charming sommelier Jean-Marc Leitao’s extensive knowledge was given generously and with humour. An ‘amuse bouche’ of beetroot, black garlic and orange was pitch perfect. Loch Duarte salmon followed, soft as butter and partnered with lobster, asparagus and caviar. There was also a delicious mackerel ceviche with cucumber and a champagne poached Oyster followed by loin of pork with pork belly and pear. Retiring to our suite was a joy; this bed was so comfortable that even a princess would surely not feel the pea. All of this just over two hours from London by car or 90 minutes from Paddington by train. Already we long to return.
From Bath we travelled to the Scarlet Hotel, which occupies a portion of dramatic headland in Mawgan Porth. A striking modern design combines glass, reflecting light and sea, and wood to great effect. A focus on sustainability and ecology provides a luxury experience you can feel good about without being short-changed in the pampering department. Do book a hot tub overlooking the beach and drink in the epic sunsets, glass of champagne in hand. Relaxing pods are everywhere, dotted into the gardens and the spa. The Scarlet wants us to return to the womb and emerge newborn in perfect state. Ensure a room with a sea view so you can fall asleep to the sound of the waves. Large bathtubs are open-plan with a separate wet room for the shy. Residents can join in complimentary yoga or meditation classes or book individual sessions,and it’s the spa’s handpicked team of experts that elevates the experience. Kalli, who gave up corporate life to move to Cornwall, gently guided me through 90 minutes of bespoke yoga and set me on a path to serenity. Ayurveda is the Spa’s focus and massages are entirely bespoke. Sebastian will pummel life’s woes from browbeaten shoulders; intensely rejuvenating.The brown spa robes lend a monkish quality to guests as we amble around the outside pool area in a state of blissed-out zen. Relaxed? It was difficult to stay awake.The restaurant served local fish and shellfish stew; fragrant with saffron that hinted of warmer climes, and roasted wood pigeon. ‘Traditional but quirky’ said the sommelier about the Tuscan red chosen for the pork dish. He might as well have been speaking about the hotel more generally; it has all the elements of a traditional spa hotel but is utterly unique. The Scarlet isn’t perfect; not having a public reception area felt gimmicky and just didn’t work for me, but it’s a cool operator, attracting a hip crowd with many returning guests. As they approach their 10th anniversary, it still manages to feel like a secret gem of an escape. Finally, to the Carlyon Bay Hotel and a more traditional spa offer. Come for the pools (both indoor and outdoor), sweeping vistas to breath-taking Carlyon Bay and a golf course which is highly rated. Everyone from Princess Diana to Noel Gallagher and Nigel Havers have stayed, and hallways are dotted with pictures to confirm the fact. The hotel’s Art Deco exterior belies the traditional interiors, and it’s a reassuringly comfortable, friendly and more affordable luxury experience. Sip a cocktail in the piano bar before dinner and then move to the brasserie or fine dining restaurant with its wraparound views. Classics of the cooking repertoire are superbly executed and a good wine list includes Camel Valley, a vineyard on Bodmin’s outskirts. The restaurant is buzzing with happy customers on a Tuesday evening and the hotel’s Director greets guests as friends. Delightful!
The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, Bath – www.royalcrescent.co.uk
Double deluxe rooms from £330on a B&B basis.
Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall – www.scarlethotel.co.uk
Double occupancy from £240 per night
01637 861 800.
Carlyon Bay Hotel – Rates from £135 per person per night including dinner, bed and breakfast – plus free golf and spa facilities. www.carlyonbay.com or call 01726 812304.