Thursday, 28 April 2016

Stay in Bath and Visit the Little Theatre

When you stay in Bath it can be a little bit like escaping for a few days to a by-gone era. Life in Bath is slower - more relaxed. If someone bumps into you in Bath they will stop and apologise profusely. Bath is just that kind of city – elegant and gentile in vibe and in architecture.  This is perfect for anyone wishing for a city break with added R&R.  And what’s better for this (apart from a massage at the Thermae Spa) than a trip to the cinema? So keeping on our theme of talking about the year-round gems of Bath, we had a look at the Little Theatre Cinema in Bath. 

If you haven’t been to this cinema you’re missing a trick. Tucked away on St Michael’s Place near the Theatre Royal, the Little Theatre Cinema is a three-screen art house cinema which specilises in showing films that deserve to be shown much more widely than they are. If you’re a fan of beautiful animations (think moving artwork rather than computer graphics), or watching recordings of live opera on the big screen then this is the cinema for you.

But it’s not just films they show that make this one of our favourite places to go for an evening in Bath - it’s the atmosphere. This is one of the few cinemas left in the UK that retains the old romance that used to come with going to the pictures. It has the tiered velvet seating, the balcony space, long curtains before the screen, an enclosed ticket booth on the door, and upstairs it has a small intimate screen that is one of the most cosy we’ve had the pleasure of sitting in.

Keen to go back soon and see a film ourselves, we had a look at their upcoming films.

The Little Theatre regularly screens new stage productions of classic Shakespeare plays. In June this will be Hamlet, and on Thursday 7th July and Monday 11th July they’ll be showing Kenneth Branagh’s production of Romeo and Juliet, which will be starring the wonderful trio of Richard Madden, Lily James and Sir Derek Jacobi.

On Sunday 15th May they’ll be showing the award-winning Cinema Paradiso –a foreign film told largely in flashback. It follows the protagonist Salvatore's growing infatuation with his village cinema, and his friendship with its projectionist. It's a lament for the joyous movie-going experience of days gone by, so rather appropriate for this cinema.   

The Little Theatre is also just beginning its season of Studio Ghibli showings. So if you’re a fan keep an eye out for those. And if you’re yet to see a Studio Ghibli film, now is your chance - beautiful films with equally beautiful messages. We really can’t recommend enough coming to stay in Bath and visiting the cinema that time forgot.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Stay in Bath and Visit Bath Skyline

Recently in our Stay in Bath blogs we’ve been looking at some of the upcoming festivals that Bath will soon be hosting, so we thought it was about time that we looked at some of the wonderful things that you can do in Bath that, perhaps because they are not a one-night/one-week only attraction, don’t always get the recognition that they deserve. This week it’s the turn of Bath Skyline.

Bath Skyline is a beautiful area of Bath largely owned by the National Trust. It includes an Iron Age hill fort, hidden valleys, wildlife rich woodland and meadows, and an 18th-century folly. The best way to experience it is via a round-route walk which covers six miles and provides some of the best views of Bath and the hills beyond that we’ve ever seen. Strolling through the streets of Bath you can really appreciate the architectural details on all of the buildings and can admire the rooftop statues and carved pediments, but the views across the whole city which the Bath Skyline walk provides are something else entirely. Impressive doesn’t cover it.

On their website the National Trust estimates that the full six mile walk, if walked at a leisurely ambling pace, should take between three and a half to four hours; which makes it an excellent length for an afternoon outing, but if you stop off along the way it can also be a fantastic day out. Some of the places that we recommend visiting on the trail are:

·      The American Museum at Claverton Down - where you can learn about the birth of the United States, read about the lives of the Native Americans and see samples of their folk art, and, if you present your printed skyline map, be treated to a free cookie and coffee in their tea shop along with your admission fee. The American Museum also puts on events throughout the year which are listed here. 

·      Sham Castle – a Grade II listed folly built in 1762 for Ralph Allen, Mayor of Bath between 1742 and 1769, “to improve the prospect” from his town house. At night the castle is now illuminated.

·      Prior Park Landscape Gardens – also owned by the National Trust, these gardens were designed in the early 18th century by the famous gardener Capability Brown. The garden’s are home to a Palladian bridge (one of only four bridges which are left of this design), a serpentine lake, pools with curtain wall cascades, a Gothic temple and, as you’d expect from the National Trust, a lovely tea room.  

So, why not take a picnic with you, or stop at the American Museum or Prior Park for lunch, and have a wonderful day viewing Bath from above. Details of the Bath Skyline walk, including a map and route plan, can be found here.

(And, for anyone who doesn’t fancy doing the whole six miles, a map for a shorter two-mile, family-friendly route can be found here.)

Thursday, 14 April 2016

How To Have A Relaxing Weekend in Bath

Bath is a beautiful city, and one with just the balance between a relaxed pace of life, and having lots of great things to do. For those reasons Bath is one of the top cities to visit when you need a relaxing weekend away. 

The thing is that planning a weekend break can, in itself, be a massive undertaking, and undertaking to do hours of research can somewhat take the therapeutic shine off from your nice break. As such, we at Dukes Hotel in Bath have tried to come up with our top suggestions for what to do in Bath when you need to wind down and chill out. Let us help you to easily plan your ideal relaxing weekend in Bath. 

If you need to de-stress one of the things that you definitely have to do when you come to Bath is to visit the incredible Thermae Spa. It has aromatic steam rooms and different pools, offers facials, massages and treatments especially for mums to be, and it provides views across the entire city thanks to its rooftop pool, which is particularly wonderful on mild spring and summer evenings.   

Next we suggest taking a tour of Bath’s Royal Victoria Park. It has it’s own small botanical gardens, runs adjacent to the Royal Crescent, and has a pretty neat crazy golf course if you feel so inclined. On a dry day it makes for a wonderful stroll.

If you’d like to see some more of the city but don’t fancy a long walk then, for a change from the big red tourist buses which you can hop-on and hop-off, try booking a horse and carriage tour. The carriage can be open top, or covered in bad weather, and the horses hooves are incredibly relaxing. It reminded us of slower, simpler times when we went and was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

As for a nice cup of tea (because what’s more relaxing than a good cup of tea and a piece of cake) visit Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms on Saville Row near the Assembly Rooms. It has a great range of light lunches, delicious cakes (we particularly recommend the raspberry and coconut cake) and different teas. The atmosphere is perfect for relaxing in; it has lovely big windows and a quaint and homely 1940s feel to it. 

When it comes to a good evening atmosphere one of our top recommendations is the Ivy Cocktail Bar and Restaurant. It’s a bit out of the way – down a small stone flight of steps near Pulteney Bridge – but this means that it’s an excellent escape and not overcrowded. It has an outside seating area too, which is great for soaking up the evening sun and watching the weir which it overlooks. 

We hope these suggestions might prove helpful, and if you have any queries about Bath or we can help in any way then please do let us know. We at Dukes Hotel hope to welcome you to Bath for a relaxing weekend soon!

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Stay in Bath for Bath’s World Heritage Day

In 1987 Bath became the first city in the UK to receive UNESCO World Heritage Site status for, among other things, it’s Roman remains, Palladian architecture, and links to 18th century social history.

In celebration of this, each year in April there is a Bath World Heritage Day, which chooses one of the six reasons that Bath was awarded UNESCO status as a theme for a day of events. This year the theme is the 18th century Social Setting – how Bath’s many prominent residents and visitors lived, what they wore, what rules governed them, what was fashionable, what was not, and what they did for entertainment.

Bath’s World Heritage Day falls on Sunday the 17th of April this year, and events will be taking place between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., rather appropriately given the theme, at Bath’s impressive Assembly Rooms, which were built in 1771 and were quite the best place to be seen in Bath when they were completed. 

Almost all of the activities will be free and available to everyone. These will include, but are not limited to:
  • ·      A mini-drama about 18th century Bath (which we hear will also include a duel)
  • ·      Performances from the Jane Austen Dancers, and a chance to have a go yourself
  • ·      Live 1770s and 1780s music from harpsichordist David Ponsford and flautist Helen Crown
  • ·      A rare guided tour of the Ball Room, Tea Room and Great Octagon of the Assembly Rooms
  • ·      A digital tour of an 18th century landscape garden
  • ·      A walking tour of the upper town with the Mayor’s Honorary Guides
  • ·      Bath Spa Choral Society performing traditional 18th century songs
  • ·      Displays from the Roman Baths, the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution and Bathscape
  • ·      Dressing up in replica costumes and experimenting with Georgian make-up (thankfully not the lead-based face powders though)
  • ·      Actors from the Natural Theatre Company portraying the first Master of Ceremonies of the Assembly Rooms and other figures from Bath’s past
  • ·      Traditional card games
  • ·      Family crafts
  • ·      The opportunity for photos in a sedan chair, which used to be the way to get around in Bath
  • ·      Discovering the 18th century ‘Rules of Bath’

The only things that are not are the ‘Georgian Highlights’ tour of the Fashion Museum’s new exhibition, and there will also be some small charges if you want to sample the Georgian-themed refreshments in the Assembly Rooms cafĂ©. On offer will be Bath Buns, Bath Oliver biscuits, almond fingers, and the famous Sally Lunn Buns.

So given that Dukes Hotel is such a fan of all things historical and Georgian (only natural really seeing as how we are situated in a pair of conjoined Grade II listed Georgian townhouses) we can fully recommend going along and exploring a little bit of 18th century Bath if you happen to be staying in Bath over the 17th of April. (And if you’re not, then why not? This is going to be a fantastic day!)