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Queensberry Hotel, Bath, review: Staying by the rules

TIME : 2016/2/27 11:01:13

Queensberry Hotel, Bath, review: Staying by the rules

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Our rating

4.5 out of 5

A stay at Bath's Queensberry Hotel is a lesson in opulence.

The Queensberry Hotel, Bath

In the honey stone Georgian town of Bath in south-west England, you will find a boutique hotel that is as eccentric as the man it's named for – the ninth Marquess of Queensberry, otherwise known as "Old Q", who penned the rules that govern boxing.

The rules that now govern the Queensberry Hotel are equally eccentric, though a world away from the draconian approach of "Old Q", a belligerent Scotsman who violently objected to his son's relationship with Oscar Wilde, trying to disrupt Wilde's plays by throwing vegetables. 

The Queensberry Hotel's modern-day rules include more irreverent offerings such as: "Gentlemen whose trousers fail to reach the ankle may be discouraged from wearing white socks". 

The upshot is a relaxed, stylish establishment where a visit, according to owners Laurence and Helen Beere, "shouldn't feel like a night in another hotel. It should feel like a fabulous rest in a friend's very smart, spare bedroom".

It does. Commissioned as a residential home by the eight Marquess of Queensberry, four Georgian terraces now combine into one quirky hotel, with a seriously good restaurant, The Olive Tree, lurking in the basement. 

On arrival,we're shown the drawing room with its tongue-in-cheek, quintessentially British Old Q Bar then it's off to our top-floor room, one of 29. 

There's nothing 18th century about the Queensberry's rooms, though you'll find them in every nook and cranny of the quirkily twisty corridors and levels.No two rooms are the same, each furnished in elegant creams, browns, eggshell blues, burgundy, sage and greys, with a nod to Georgian tradition but with a contemporary, opulent attention to detail. 

There are stylishly idiosyncratic touches, like bold-coloured cushions in reds and mustard, geometric rugs, the odd silver pelmet over a bed, a cheeky shag-pile bedspread, striking painted feature-walls or wallpaper, padded leather or velvet headboards. There's a chic glass bottle of spring water but no mini bar. Instead, staff will deliver freshly mixed drinks on request.

Our substantial room has a view across those creamy Bath-stone buildings fine enough to lure us out for a Jane Austen-esque promenade through this city of grand neoclassical Palladian crescents, terraces and squares.

But first, a bath and oh, what a bath – deep and wide enough to challenge Bath's 2000-year-old thermal springs Roman Baths (OK, not quite). Generous arrays of luxury bath products f, fluffy towels and bathrobes all in a ballroom bathroom large enough for a cotillion, should madam so desire.

Well, maybe not a cotillion, but a post-promenade, pre-dinner mojito would go down a treat. We head for The Old Q Bar with its deep studded upholstered bar, Union Jack cushions and floor rug, its marquess and boxing memorabilia and new-look rules.

All this attention to detail is thanks to the Beere's prior experience with Claridges, The Savoy, Cliveden, Palace Hotel Gstaad and Bath's Royal Crescent. It also explains the fine food and wine. We're pleased we booked a table at The Olive Tree. Once we find it, it's full, and no wonder. 

Perhaps the cocktails have interfered with our sense of direction but there's many a slip 'twixt bar and basement. Up stairs, into the toilets, round corners, into a cupboard we ramble – eventually we take the lift.

Head chef, Chris Cleghorn is a protégé of Michelin Star chefs Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck, Michael Caines of Gidleigh Park and Adam Simmonds of Danesfield House. He sources seasonal produce for his British-inspired menus from local West Country suppliers.

We'd have loved to try Cleghorn's seven-course tasting menu, covering all eventualities (lobster, quail, halibut, lamb, Roquefort, raspberry and cream cheese and hazelnut mousse $135) but we choose instead pan-fried halibut, pea puree, Alsace bacon, braised gem lettuce and glazed shallot for me and lamb loin and belly, burnt aubergine puree, baby artichoke, tomato and courgette for my husband (both $50and excellent). A divine hot chocolate fondant with candied pistachios and pistachio ice cream ($18.50) rounds off the meal.

We sleep like babies to the sound of nothing at all and wake to what must be one of the very best breakfasts we have ever had. Not your common and garden bacon and eggs, my boiled eggs with soldiers and thin, crispy bacon is so lovely I forget to photograph it, plus there's good homemade muesli, sparkling fresh fruit and just-baked croissants on the buffet, plus the coffee's rich and flavourful.

Our rating: 4.5

TripAdvisor Traveller Rating: 4.5




Qantas flies daily to London Heathrow via Dubai from Sydney and Melbourne (24hr45), see Two hours by car from Heathrow to Bath.


The Queensberry Hotel has rooms from $215 for two.See

The writer was a guest of VisitBritain