Saturday, 31 May 2014

Musical breaks in Bath – feed your heart and soul

Of all city destinations, breaks in Bath would frequently be at the top of the poll. For many, top of their list is  the Georgian architecture, others applaud the superb collection of independent retailers, and yet more claim that Bath has everything on offer one would expect from a far larger city. Without doubt, breaks in Bath have a tendency to be tremendously successful and delightfully memorable. For those who enjoy festivals, one such unforgettable event takes place in late May.

Visit Bath in late May and you will struggle not to feel the beat on the street! Weekend breaks Bath on Friday 17 May, mark the opening of The Bath International Music Festival.  With roots that may be tracked back to 1948, the festival is well on its way to celebrating 75 unbroken years of activity.

The festival has won a strong national and international reputation for an undistracted commitment to both local and international musicians and social issues. This twin thread of musical endeavour and social conscience is woven throughout the music, performance and activities. The celebration is renowned for the opening Friday night, Party in the City, when over 2,000 musicians and performers local to Bath fill the streets and venues of Bath with their unique rhythmic music and sparkling entertainment. For 2013 and 2014 the festival will thrive under the leadership of Alasdair Nicolson, a versatile musician and acclaimed composure, The appointment of Alasdair follows in a tradition whereby Bath actively seeks a director who is a recognised practicing musician in their own right.

Over the years, the festival has been led by a number of internationally recognised musicians, Michael Tippett, William Glock, Joanna MacGregor and perhaps the most well-known would be Yehudi Menuhin. The nature and intention of The Bath International Festival is to push the boundaries – both of the musicians and their audience. In 2014 Alasdair Nicholson has won acclaim for the breadth of the line up. Stacey Kent from America; one of Finland’s most recognised musicians, Iiro Rantala; fans of the harp will be graced by Gabriella Dall’Olio, while those unfamiliar with the accordion will enjoy an inspirational performance by Martynas Levickis

Visiting Bath in late May for the annual Bath Music Festival will feed the soul. An experience only enhanced by staying at one of the boutique hotels Bath has to offer. Alternatively, choose a more modest guesthouse or simple bed and breakfast in Bath. Wherever you stay in Bath, rest assured you will leave relaxed, refreshed and inspired by the talented musicians, many of whom you will have embraced.

Breaks in Bath   - Contact us for a memorable short stay in one of UK’s most beautiful city centres.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

A hotel, townhouse or guest house in Bath?

At Dukes, while we might claim our core offer is bed and breakfast, our guests frequently state that we are one of the few boutique hotels Bath has on offer. Many are struck by the warm welcome they receive, others by our commitment to the happiness and well-being of each individual guest. They appreciate the assistance and attention to detail that our team offer them in an informal, unscripted manner. With this in mind they would suggest that we are a boutique hotel – a term we often shy away from as it seems a little modern , somewhat fashionable and at risk of being passe. Each summer our American guests re-introduce to us their descriptive terms of ‘inn’ and ‘innkeepers’. For us, ‘innkeeper’ seems a term somewhat too closely associated with ale, straw and horses, so we rarely, if ever, refer to ourselves as inn keepers. While the choice of boutique hotels Bath has on offer may be limited, we believe we have a great strength and reasonable claim for consideration. As far as the property is concerned, Dukes proudly stands within two very majestic Georgian townhouses that form an integral part of Great Pulteney Street, arguably the finest boulevard of Georgian England. We understand that the word ‘townhouse’ lies at the core of the French word ‘hotel,’ from which the English term finds its root. Although on many occasions our guests appear to offer differing views as to whether we should be tagged with hotel, b&b or guest house, one thing is clear: all our guests agree that our location on Great Pulteney Street is impressive. They feel the level, five minute walk into the heart of Bath is a true convenience and on checking out they have shared a personal, unique and deeply pleasing stay with us, in a wonderfully engaging city. Our location is ideal for those who wish to walk in, or alternatively, walk out from the inner city.

Boutique Hotels Bath –  For a stay in a period property within the heart of Bath city centre, contact Dukes today.

From Dukes, one only needs to walk across Great Pulteney Street and amble over a few ancient granite sets to enter Henrietta Park, a peaceful lung in the urban heart of Bath. The park was designed in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. As with many parks of this era, the layout is well considered and intended to enhance the promenade. One enjoys a tremendous sense of space that exceeds the park’s actual 7 acre size. Numerous specimen trees have been carefully located and nurtured over the past 100 years. Now fully matured, they offer a great sense of grandeur amid calm, controlled stability. Some of the park boundaries are formed by vast shrub groups; others have openings that offer glimpses of the Georgian architecture beyond. The park, in keeping with the fashion of the day, embraces a Sensory Garden where one may sit in even greater peace among the sweetly scented flowers and shrubs. Dukes is a Bath hotel that accepts dogs. As one of the few hotels to do so we are fortunate to have Henrietta Park so readily available. Should you wish for your walks to be a little more dynamic, then you may wish to join us here at Dukes bed and breakfast on the 16 May for ‘ Party in the City’, the biggest free show in Bath. Using Dukes as your base, why not enjoy this truly spectacular occasion?  Across the World Heritage City of Bath, numerous historic and fascinating locations play host to an eclectic program of music and celebration. The Friday night works as the overture for the Bath International Music Festival. As with any overture, the Party in the City offers up a flavour of the creative forces that will be on display across the city over the latter half of May.

Later in the evening, ahead of your return for bed and breakfast at Dukes, you may care to venture out for a bite to eat. The Graze Bar, Brewery and Chophouse opened in December 2012 and is earning an enviable reputation. Perched up on high, over the vaults, originally built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Graze lies adjacent to the Bath Spa Railway Station platform. Hotel guests have complimented the dry aged steak served at Graze from the restaurant’s own in-house ageing pantries.  The Graze website boasts that the premium steaks are cooked on a searingly hot Josper charcoal oven. Of Spanish origin, design and manufacture, the Josper is the latest must have chef accessory, widely respected as an oven that delivers the finest steak texture and flavour available. Graze is a flagship eating parlour for Bath Ales and offers skyline views of Bath. 

As you wonder back to Dukes, you will realise that your staying at a hotel in Bath that is ideally located, close to the centre though away from the Party in the City celebrations that will run on into the early hours of the morning.

May is a wonderful month to visit, as the city awakes to the ushering in of summer. Whether you’re looking for a hotel, townhouse or guest house in Bath, spare a thought for what is on offer at Dukes. A warm and personal welcome, a collection of unique bedrooms, a tasty and passionately prepared breakfast….. As for the property – call it what you will, maybe a boutique hotel in a Georgian townhouse is true, although it always strikes us as a bit of a mouthful. Home falls off the tongue more easily!

Dukes boutique hotel in a Georgian townhouse -  Enjoy a warm and personal welcome at your stay in Bath – book with us today!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Castles, Comedy and Comedians of Bath

Dukes offers Bath accommodation within two Georgian townhouses, standing proudly on Great Pulteney Street. For many people searching for a bed and breakfast in Bath we offer a unique and appealing solution. Our location is a major draw, sitting between Pulteney Bridge and the Holburne Museum, offering our guests an easy, level stroll into the heart of Bath. While a hotel in Bath city centre may offer certain convenience, as one steps out from Dukes few guests fail to be struck by the magnificence of the view as they stroll into the city. The street is 100 feet wide and 1,000 feet long and offers a spectacular perspective on Georgian living and the grandeur of the townhouses built in 1797. As Bath accommodation goes, Dukes is up there with the finest architectural antiques this World Heritage City has to offer.

Bath Accommodation – Contact us now to enjoy a comfortable stay at Dukes bed and breakfast in Somerset.

As the English poet Thomas Dekker recorded: “O, the month of May, the merry month of May”. May is traditionally a season of Maypoles and ribbons, a merry and romantic month, and a great time to visit us here in Bath. Your travel plans and itinerary may enable you to spend some time both in and around Bath. One such site, a nine mile drive from Bath and worthy of a visit is Hungerford Castle, or more properly Farleigh Hungerford Castle. The castle stands on the Wiltshire and Somerset border in the Frome valley overlooking the River Frome.

Dating from the 14th century, the castle was (for a mere 300 years), the home of the Hungerford family, whose somewhat gruesome history you may learn about on a tour of the castle. There are numerous interesting features to discover including the tombs of previous generations of the family, wall paintings, and lead death masks – not for the faint hearted!

You may also visit the Priest’s House and St Leonard’s chapel where, if you are brave enough, you can enter the crypt to see human-shaped lead portrait coffins, a collection recognised as the finest in Britain.

During May the castle is open from 10.00 to 18.00 and entrance is £4.20 for adults and £2.50 for children. Following on from a morning or afternoon at Farleigh Hungerford Castle, you might find that your visit coincides with a showing of ‘ Last of the Duty Free’ at the Theatre Royal.

This is a comic play by Eric Chappell, directed by Bill Kenwright and starring Keith Barron, Gwen Taylor, Neil Stacy and Carol Royle.  If you saw the TV sitcom series “Duty Free”, then you will recognise those names as the original actors who attracted TV audiences of up to 12 million viewers back in the mid 1980s.

In this reprise, the story of the unlikely class-divide charged holiday romance between David Pearce and Linda Cochran continues from where the original series left off and with hilarious effect. It runs from the 12th to the 17th of May and there are matinee performances on Wednesday and Saturday. The box office number is 01225 448844 or you can book online.

As you gently make your way back from the Theatre Royal, you will have a wonderful opportunity to pause and enjoy Pulteney Bridge before crossing over onto Great Pulteney Street and strolling along to Dukes. The architect Robert Adam designed and oversaw the building of the bridge for William Pulteney so that he could access land his family had inherited (the Bathwick estate) on the opposite bank of the Avon. His intention was to build a new town as a suburb of Bath.

One may never tire of seeing Pulteney Bridge; said to be one of the most beautiful bridges in the world, now adorned by cafes, antique coin and map shops on  both sides, it is one of Bath’s world heritage ‘must see’  gems.

For a different perspective on historic Bath, why not join one of the boat trips that leave from Pulteney Bridge and learn about the city’s history as you float down the river?

Many of our local and international guests visit Bath to see and absorb the architectural history. However, spare a thought for the fact that Bath has a very long history as a city of frivolous fun and recreation, stretching back to the Georgian era.

A modern day take on this reputation for being a  ‘city of fun’ is the  2014 Bath Fringe Festival running from 23rd May till 8th June and, as they say, a few days on either side. The festival is very much a compilation of many diverse art forms. This is a great showcase for local talent as many Bath artists and performers take part as well as many from outside Bath. Just be sure to book your Bath accommodation well in advance!

Photograph courtesy of Chris Greenwood

The Fringe is an eclectic mixture of street theatre, music including folk, jazz and classical, comedy, entertainment, dance, art and more. With many venues all over the city. The Bath Fringe may not be as extensive as the Edinburgh Fringe but it is equally as much fun.

Dukes Bed and Breakfast Bath City Centre – To enjoy luxury guest house accommodation in the heart of Bath, book today.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Bath – so much more than just a city break

Hotel Bath, Bath hotel or hotel in Bath, one has to be so precise in these days of smart phones, apps and satnavs. However, over the phone we simply like to present ourselves as a comfortable base close to the heart of Bath. In fact, we sit on Great Pulteney Street, one of the iconic Georgian streets of Bath, so it’s really well known and easy to find. There are hotels in central Bath; however, being only a five minute walk from the centre offers our guests the best of both worlds. On the one hand, easy access into the heart of Bath, and on the other, all the benefits of a Bath hotel with a little more peace and quiet. For those who wish to combine a trip to Bath with the pleasures of the Somerset countryside, we are aware of some rather seasonal opportunities

Hotel Bath – For hotels in central Bath, contact Dukes on Great Pulteney Street and book your stay today.

As we enter into May, we’d like to share with you two delightful aspects of the West Country. The first is the West of England Falconry centre. Located at Monkton Combe, a few miles outside of Bath, the team have earned a much deserved reputation as one of the premier family activities in the South West. Jay Marshall has lived with an interest in birds of prey since his childhood days and little gives him more pleasure than to share his knowledge, skill and experience with his visitors. After a leisurely breakfast here at Dukes, one may head off for the experience of a life-time. Following on from a brief period of introduction to the falcons and their distinct behaviour and habits, Jay is willing to hand over the reins of his prized birds and allow you to handle and manage one of the birds in his care. A unique combination or handling, training and display will allow you to deal with the birds at first hand. For many guests these falconry walks have proved an enormously successful gift or shared family experience. 

For those who are looking for a hotel in Bath to enjoy outdoor or countryside pursuits, the last weekend in May ushers in the 151st Royal Bath and West Show on the 28-31st May. Housed within a purpose built showground, a little less than 20 miles from Bath, the event offers you a wonderful insight into the activities of rural England. An idyllic combination of shows, displays and demonstration serve as a wonderful opportunity for you to introduce your children to the multi-faceted dynamics of country living. A wealth of farm livestock including the ‘heavy horse’, beef cattle, dairy and sheep are all on display and compete for Best in Show. Demonstrations of sheep shearing and farrier horse work are all undertaken before your very eyes. Often an opportunity occurs for you to lend a hand or even take a turn. For those who simply wish to savour the pleasures of the country, there are countless opportunities to try home smoked meats or purchase farm reared goats’ cheese or simply enjoy a refreshing glass of farm brewed cider.

After a day spent at the agricultural show or an afternoon of falconry, we will be delighted to welcome you to Dukes, a boutique guest house close to the very heart of Bath. An invigorating shower or a long and leisurely hot bath will prepare you for an evening on the town. Perhaps you might enjoy dinner at the Circus, CafĂ© and Restaurant.  A leisurely stroll through the heart of Bath, the restaurant is ideally located between the Royal Crescent and the namesake Circus - surely two of the most iconic architectural landmarks in the city. Listed in Bath Life magazine, the venue is recognised as one of the 150 reasons to love Bath as it describes it as: “Bath’s most sophisticated local restaurant, consistently excellent and well-priced.” Serving seasonal, locally sourced, freshly-cooked food with a British bias.

So, for those who wish to enjoy both the pleasures of Somerset in early summer  and the majesty of civilised city living, Bath has so much more to offer and is a long way from simply being a ‘city break’.

Dukes in Great Pulteney Street, Bath -  Get in touch today to find out about our availability for your short stay in Somerset.