We didn't stay at the hotel, instead travelling to the Bath Priory for a spa day and dinner. Before dinner we went to the spa area for a swim, jacuzzi, sauna and steam in the steam room. We were shown to the spa area by a rather disinterested but courteous staff member, but the spa staff were very helpful and friendly, happy to show us where things were and how they worked if we were unsure. We were provided with towels and robes, and in the changing rooms there were electronic lockers where you entered a personal PIN number to lock and unlock them, which gave the feeling that our belongings were safe whilst we relaxed.
The pool was lovely and warm, though because the jacuzzi was actually part of the pool it was only two jets of water, one rather weak, and so it was not very effective at all and underwhelming. The sauna was nice, pretty much identical to any other sauna except for the small colour-changing mood-lights in the ceiling which were a nice touch, though only noticeable if you looked upwards. The steam room was beautiful; the entire room (including the seats) was covered in a deep reddy-purple mosaic, which was hot on the skin at first but then comfortable and relaxing, and there were also mood lights in the ceiling.
We left the spa at just after 12 and after wandering around the ground floor of the hotel trying to find the restaurant we grabbed a passing staff member who showed us into the drawing room for a 'pre-dinner drink'. He was rather pretentious, looking us up and down before he ushered us into the drawing room which made us feel slightly self-conscious. We were seated in a large, heavily furnished room, hung with beautiful portraits which were very interesting to look at. After a while, though, it got rather boring, and there was a tense, unfriendly silence in the room. It felt almost like we weren't allowed to speak or that it wouldn't be 'proper'. I was offered a drink and when I politely declined was given a look that said I had somehow crossed a line, which made me feel quite uncomfortable. My daughter, by this point, was bored out of her mind after studying the paintings for a while as there was nothing else to do (remembering that talking felt somehow prohibited). After between 5 and 10 minutes we were served a chilli hummous with some kind of crispy things, which we did not catch the name of because of the waiter's thick French accent. It was average, not particularly nice but not unpleasant.
After another 15-20 minutes we were led into the dining room, which was clean, had a better atmosphere and was very bright (probably as a result of everything being bright white and the large windows letting in lots of light). There was also a guy playing guitar in the corner which was a nice touch. We were introduced to our waitress, Jessica, who was aloof and seemed to not like it when we talked to her, which made us very unsure whether we should thank her or not when she brought out our courses (etc.). However, she gradually loosened up towards the end of the meal and rewarded our thanks with a tentative smile. Before dinner we were served a basket of bread containing three different bread varieties, which was nice, although we didn't actually know what they were because of Jessica's thick French accent and quick way of speaking, which all the staff seemed to possess.
The bread was very nice and swiftly followed by a potato and leek veloute, 'complimentary of the chef'. It had a handmade potato crisp on top and cubes of potato in the bottom, and was served in a beautiful twisty-handled white cup. It was delicious. Our cups were taken away when we finished and then there was a 15-20 minute wait for our starters. Like in the drawing room there was a feeling of needing to be quiet, although it wasn't as bad.
I had the lamb breast with lamb kidney and my daughter had the duck egg with hollandaise and fricasee mushrooms because she didn't like the sound of any other starters. My starter was nice but miniscule, and my daughter's egg was also nice but the hollandaise was almost non-existant.
After another stupidly long wait we received our tiny main courses. I had the roast lamb with roast potatoes and vegetables and my daughter had the wood pigeon with hazelnut couscous and cauliflower puree. The roast lamb had a thick layer of unrendered fat which was disgusting and inedible, the roast potatoes were completely average and there was a ridiculously pitiful amount of vegetables - for example, there were two broad beans. What is the point of two broad beans? My daughter tried the potatoes and lamb and declared that my roast lamb and potatoes are better, and I have to say I agree. My daughter's wood pigeon had a nice flavour but was slightly dry and chewy, but she said that her cauliflower puree and hazelnut couscous was lovely, even if there wasn't enough of it.
And finally, after another long wait, we received our desserts. I had the amaretto and chocolate mousse, which looked beautiful but was a bit of a letdown on taste, and my daughter had the apricot and hazelnut souffle with apricot sorbet which was absolutely gorgeous, possibly the best part of the meal.
A disappointing and unfulfilling dinner was followed by a polite notification from a member of staff that the spa was ready for us and that we could go and have our treatments, which meant that we didn't get our coffee and petit-fours. With a feeling of building excitement we went back downstairs to the spa, and our spirits plummeted when we found out that the ridiculous waits had cost us half an hour of our treatments and we had not been told. If we had we would have left the dinner (as it was a complete disappointment really) and gone to our treatments. We felt disappointed and like we'd lost out.
We filled out some disclaimers and were introduced to our therapists who were lovely, polite and friendly. They took us into seperate rooms and we received a wonderful salt rub and full body mud wrap (for which we chose the salts and muds), then showered, had an extremely vigorous full-body massage, a foot massage and a scalp massage. The whole experience was extremely enjoyable and left us feeling completely relaxed.
The receptionist who took our payment was lovely and helpful, and dealt with our payment extremely well.
Overall, we felt out of place and slightly judged by the restaurant staff, welcomed by the spa staff and completely disappointed with the restaurant's food and service.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled within four acres of mature award-wining gardens and spacious terraces, The 5 Red Star Bath Priory Hotel and Spa sets itself apart as a peaceful haven in a bustling city. The Georgian house of honey-coloured Bath stone enjoys a tranquil location just a short walk to the city centre and is proud to hold the city's only Michelin Star for culinary excellence. Welcoming guests as if to a private home, The Bath Priory is where much of proprietors Andrew and Christina Brownsword's private art collection adorns the walls. To help you truly unwind, our Garden Spa offers massages and a selection of luxurious treatments by British spa and skincare brand Elemis. There are 27 luxurious en-suite bedrooms and 6 suites set around 4 acres of stunning award-winning grounds and gardens. ... more less
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