Friday, 29 January 2016

Where To Go For Live Music When You Visit Bath

 “If music be the food of love, play on.”

We couldn’t agree more. Whether you’re a lover of blues, jazz, classical, rock and roll, folk, or even show tunes; Bath has something for everyone when it comes to music. It’s easy listening once you find it – Bath is home to some truly fantastic musicians, as well as those visiting Bath on tour, but the key is to know where to go. On that note, these are a few of our top recommendations for recurring weekly venues, as well as a special event that’s coming up soon and has caught our eye.  

The Bell Inn, which is just a few minutes walk away from Dukes Hotel since we’re lucky to be a bed and breakfast with a city centre location, is the go-to pub for live music. They have a mix of folk, jazz and blues on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday nights, as well as a lovely relaxed atmosphere on every night of the week.

The Pig and Fiddle is even nearer to us, barely five minutes if that, and is a popular pub with those in the know. Especially so on Tuesdays when they hold their open-mic nights which are filled with local talent. Anyone is free to sign up to perform and the quality of the performers is top rate. They also have an impressive range of local ales and ciders on tap.

If live music in an elegant cocktail bar is more what you’re looking for rather than a pub-experience then we recommend Circo – a classy venue that makes for a perfect jazz lounge every Monday. As an added bonus the cocktails are on a 2 for £10 offer all night. 

If you want to enjoy music over a delicious meal Green Park Brasserie is a good bet. It’s a top restaurant that’s housed in what was once a railway station. It has live jazz every evening from Wednesday until Sunday and is a wonderful place to relax after a long day of exploring.

In terms of the special event that’s coming up there’s a unique Moulin Rouge combination performance at the Bath Forum on the 6th of February. In the first half of the night Bath Philharmonia will be performing classical extracts from Verdi’s La Traviata, Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld, and Puccini’s La Boheme; and then in the second half there will be a screening of Baz Luhrmann’s masterpiece film Moulin Rouge, which took much of it’s inspiration from those three operas whose extracts are featuring on the programme. The pairing of the two artistic forms of classical music and cinema in the impressive Bath Forum will be a rare treat indeed. 

But whatever you’re in the mood for in terms of music Bath certainly isn’t lacking. As well as the many bars and pubs of Bath there’s also Bath’s Komedia and the Chapel Arts Centre to check out (and many more besides). So if music is a passion and you’re not sure where to go when you visit Bath, then do please ask our team at Dukes Hotel and we’ll be more than happy to help.

We hope to see you soon!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Visit Bath, Go Down the Backstreets, and Find the Best of the Best Bookshops

Not too long now until the Bath Literature Festival starts on February 26th, and as we’ve been spending time having a look at the literary highlights that are coming up we’ve started to remember just how much we love relaxing with a good book. It’s not just the book itself that we enjoy. It’s the whole experience of escapism that goes with it; from choosing it, to holding it, to curling up with it.

Now while the big Bath bookshops like Waterstones are good, there’s something we love about going into the bookshop less-mainstream and losing ourselves for an hour or two. On that note we hoped that you might feel the same way as we do, and as such here are a couple of the lesser known bookshop gems that any book-lover coming to Bath should pay a visit to.

First off there’s Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights. Situated on John Street, a small side street near the bottom of Queen’s Square and only a minute from the main shopping street of Milsom Street, Mr B’s is a bookworm’s haven. Imagine a cross between a quaint cosy library and an elegant Regency sitting room and you won’t be too far off.

Mr B’s isn’t just loved by the locals who know about it because of its atmosphere and personal touches though, but also because it’s the only bookshop we know of that offers a “Reading Spa”. When you buy a Reading Spa voucher the team at Mr B’s give you a one-on-one book chat in their Bibliotherapy Room, along with tea, coffee and cake, and dedicate themselves to helping you to find new reads that you’ll love based on what you tell them you’ve enjoyed before. After your chat you have plenty of time to relax, read through and choose which titles to take away with you from the ones you’ve picked out. 

Another great independent bookshop in Bath is Topping and Company Booksellers. They may have only three branches (to be found spread far apart across the country in Bath, Ely and St. Andrews), but they regularly hold events from the some of the very best names in the literary world. On Monday January 25th for example they’re hosting a talk from top-selling author Matt Haig about his most recent book Reasons to Stay Alive. Then on Wednesday 17th February they’ll be welcoming Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes to Bath for an evening of literary delights and discussion.

But even if you’re not able to go to one of their events then the Topping’s shop itself on The Paragon close to the top of Milsom Street is well worth a browse. For fans of collectable books they also sell first editions, first printings, and author-signed copies of books; which we quite like because at Dukes Hotel we’re all about luxury and beautiful antiques. 

So from all of us at Dukes Hotel; we hope we can see you for some literary indulgence soon!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Stay in Bath and See A Spellbinding Show At Bath’s Theatre Royal

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned that the 2016 Bath Literature Festival had released its programme of events online and was now taking bookings. Well, keeping on the literary theme we’ve been having a look at the new show that will soon be taking to the main stage at Bath’s Theatre Royal.

Since January the 12th a recent adaptation of William Golding’s famous book Lord of the Flies has been playing to packed audiences. Now, as we wave goodbye to a story from one best-selling author, we can welcome work from another best-seller which has also been transformed fantastically into a work for the stage. 

From the 19th to the 24th of January the Olivier Award nominated, sell out West End hit, Hetty Feather will be coming for a stay in Bath. It is based on the book by well known childrens author Jacqueline Wilson, in which a girl who has been abandoned at the Foundling Hospital goes on a mission to find her real mother. Along the way she braves the streets of Victorian London and discovers the wonders of the squirrel house and Tanglefields Travelling Circus. 

The show has been described by the Evening Standard as “a family show that has it all…utterly magnificent”, and the Daily Telegraph said that it was “Ingenious. Hetty Feather gives Matilda a run for its money.” High praise indeed, but well deserved as it blends original live music, beautiful storytelling, and circus skills, including trapeze and aerial hoop work, to stunning effect. We’re definitely looking forward to seeing it.

Bath is no stranger to excellent theatre. Ever since Bath became the first city outside of London to be granted a Royal Patent (the first Bath Theatre Royal was established in Orchard Street, it moved to it’s current home in Sawclose in 1805) it has been renowned as one of the most important stops on a production’s tour. In 1789, around the time that the guesthouses that make up Dukes Hotel were built, leading lights of the theatre world Sarah Siddons and John Henderson were acting in Bath. Ever since those first Georgian celebrities Bath has seen some of the world’s most famous names gracing it’s stages.  Sir Derak Jacobi and Maggie Smith to name but two.

The Theatre Royal isn’t Bath’s only theatre though. There’s also Bath Spa’s University Theatre, Burdalls Yard, Bath University’s theatre, Komedia, The Rondo Theatre, and The Mission Theatre. One classic production coming to The Mission Theatre this month is Blithe Spirit – from Tuesday 26th to Saturday the 30th, while at The Rondo Theatre fans of pantomime can see Mother Goose, and shortly after that will be Dicken’s Evening - another for the literature fans. 

We hope we’ll see you soon for a stay in Bath so you can visit one of our theatres. We’re a little biased, but in our opinion it’s an excellent way to spend a cold winter night! 

Friday, 8 January 2016

Sunday Lunch in Bath

As the weather cools off (perhaps not before time) there are few things we like better on a Sunday than a good roast to warm you up from the inside out. So if you’re coming to Bath for a weekend visit, or are here for a longer stay, and you want to know where to go for the best Yorkshire puddings or which pub has the nicest atmosphere, then we hope that our recommendations will prove helpful. When you come to stay in Bath, a little insider knowledge can make all the difference.  

First off, The Chequers on Rivers Street in the city centre won an award for having the best Sunday lunch in Bath. They use the freshest of ingredients, and are an especially great place to go if you are a vegetarian – they do a fantastic chestnut mushroom, hazelnut and apricot roast. Main meals are served from 12:00pm – 5:00pm and child friendly portions are also available on request. 

The Green Park Brasserie and Bar is one that is a favourite for many locals because of it’s incredibly relaxed and friendly environment. It’s menu is well stocked with organic options, and some more unusual selections such as venison sausages and mustard mash to name but two. It also boasts a fantastic range of wines to complement whatever you choose to eat.

Next is Gascoyne Place. Not your typical gastropub but it is one after our own heart. You can choose to dine in the elegant first floor Georgian dining rooms, a cosy snug, on the sunny mezzanine, or in the downstairs lounge which has made a real feature of it’s exposed section of Medieval city wall. It embodies Regency luxury but at the same time maintains an affordable menu. 

For fans of Gascoyne Place, another gastropub that’s similar in style is The Pulteney Arms. More Georgian elegance (in the case of The Pulteney Arms from 1759) but with the added bonus of extra sofas, book-filled bookcases, and it is also dog friendly.

Sometimes a traditional pub atmosphere is what’s needed if you want to have a truly traditional Sunday lunch. For that we recommend either The Saracens Head on Broad Street who, in their dessert list, have one of the best apple pies we’ve ever tried, or The Boater which is only two minutes from our front door and stocks an impressive selection of beers (more than thirty global craft beers and six cask ales). 

We hope this has whetted your appetite and enticed you to come to Bath, and for more than just a Sunday lunch too, but rather for a longer visit. Bath has so much to offer that you can’t see it all even in a month of Sundays, let alone one.

As always, whatever it is you’re looking for in Bath please do just ask us. The team here at Dukes Hotel are more than happy to help in whatever way we can.

Friday, 1 January 2016

2016 Events In Bath

January is typically the time to start thinking about where to go for the summer holiday. But a stay in Bath doesn’t have to be limited to just the summer months. Whenever you visit Bath there is bound to be something going on. So while you’re looking at where to go for a getaway this year, why not consider booking a couple of short breaks as well and come and stay in Bath while one of these big events is going on?

Bath Literature Festival: February 26th – March 6th 
The big names in the literary world come to Bath to discuss writing techniques, new releases and old favourites. Workshops, literary walks and other cultural delicacies guaranteed:

Bath Half Marathon – March 13th
For those taking part in the race itself definitely book up your room early (and make sure it’s a comfy one – you deserve it and you’ll need it). Also a great opportunity for spectators and supporters to see some live music in the midst of a big crowd vibe. This year is the second ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition which will see six local bands playing in locations around the course, and the Samba Sulis drummers will also be in attendance.

Bath International Music Festival: May 20th – May 30th 
Jazz, acoustic folk, classical, tropical-gypsy-dance – you name it, this festival has it. Taking place at locations all around Bath, the full programme is yet to be released but information on last year’s festival can be found here:

Bath Fringe Festival: May 27th – June 12th 
This is a Fringe of the classic kind – where anyone can submit an event so long as they can organize all of the practicalities. Expect the best quality and a huge variety. The programme will be available online from April at

Jane Austen Festival: September 9th – 18th
Costumed promenades, theatre performances and live readings. A spectacle not to be missed and one whose fans come year on year to be a part of. 

Bath Children’s Literature Festival: September 30th – October 9th
Great for young and young-at-heart, this festival sells out fast! With appearances from the likes of Michael Morpurgo and Julia Donaldson you’ll need to be quick to ensure you can get good accommodation and tickets to the top events. The programme will be published here: 

The Great Bath Feast: Throughout September
September really is a good month to visit Bath. Austen, children’s books, and to top it all off there will be culinary excellence in the spotlight for the whole month. Last year included Persian feasts and tipsy teas at Sally Lunn’s.

Mozart Festival: November 11th-19th
Some of Mozart’s most famous pieces performed in the Georgian grandeur of Bath by a selection of top musicians of our age. Classical music as it ought to be – live and passionate.

Bath Christmas Market: Around the beginning of December

Possibly the most popular event of the year in Bath. Rooms go quickly but this is one not to be missed. It really is a cut above your average Christmas market.  Our advice if you want to go: it’s never too early to book ahead and be on the safe side.