Aside from the many chintzy B&Bs with alternating signs of ‘vacancies’ or ‘no vacancies’ in the windows, Bath’s grandest street, Great Pulteney, has long been crying out for a luxury city bolt-hole, and No.15 is precisely that. Formerly The Carfax Hotel, which operated as a temperance establishment (heaven forbid) in the days following the Second World War, local hoteliers Ian and Christa Taylor have transformed the property from a rather uncharitable Salvation Army-run bed for the night to a decadent boutique affair worthy of A-listers. Having opened No.15’s double doors in December 2016 the bright and breezy transformation has made some five star competitors look positively passé.
With just 40 individually designed rooms, (some still to be completed), expect to book well in advance if you want to stay here during weekends. Exquisitely designed by Martin Hulbert (Coworth Park, Chewton Glen and The Grove) and other local interior design experts such as Rossiters, the overall space is modern and airy; a ambiance that works surprisingly well within the elegant and well proportioned rooms of this stately Georgian townhouse.
It’s no wonder they decided to place doll’s houses within the bedrooms, for spending time here is to step inside your very own life-size version. Think sash windows and neck-craningly high ceilings, to quirky artworks and ornate chandeliers (one entirely composed of lost earrings), while suites boast four poster beds and free standing baths (the ones with Great Pulteney Street views are a must), it’s just a shame that I can’t, having relocated to Bath last year, justify checking in.
That said, Bar 15 has undoubtedly become my favourite bar in the city. With a light-reflecting perspex counter, scallop-patterned panels and warm lighting, it’s chic and fun, like our very own version of Sketch, Mayfair. From glass-topped tables encasing vintage costume jewellery to packs of playing cards featuring, not hearts and clubs, but a tempting array of cocktails, it’s easy to stay longer than you originally intend. You’ll certainly never be stuck for conversation. An Instagrammer’s paradise, I too was probably annoying my husband by photographing the many idiosyncratic design details that caught my eye.
Meanwhile, the well-rounded wine list, with Pol Roger available by the glass (hoorah!), makes Bar 15 the perfect environment for a relaxing drink or a leisurely afternoon tea, upholding the traditions whilst throwing in the odd twist. For example, our tea stand was suspended over our table from a wrought iron ‘tree’, while the champagne flutes must have been inspired by supermodels, being both ridiculously tall and so worryingly slender that you fear they’ll topple over like Naomi Campbell on platforms.
It was good to see local tea supplier Comins alongside the likes of Jing, while finger sandwiches were far from the usual boring selection; home-cured salmon with lemon verbena crème fraîche; Burford Brown egg mayonnaise with mustard cress; roast chicken with a textural crispy skin and apricot crumble, while glazed ham was partnered with a sweet and spicy apple and ginger chutney. Scones were freshly baked and biscuity (just how I like them), while the top tier of patisserie were impeccably made; from a divine caramelized banana macaron to a moist lemon drizzle sponge, a chocolate mousse dome on a biscuit base and an almond financier topped with a zingy raspberry mousse.
The food, like the décor, has clearly been carefully thought out and makes me want to go back for breakfast, lunch and dinner too, served in the basement apothecary-style Café 15 and presided over by Head Chef Dan Miles who hails from rival hotel, The Gainsborough where he was Sous Chef. This hotel is a welcome addition to a city positively bursting at the seams with DFLs (down from London) folk, while discerning travellers and locals alike will appreciate the attention to detail that the Taylors have put into this magical place.
No.15 Great Pulteney Street, Bath BA2 4BR . Doubles from £150 per night. Afternoon tea is served in Bar 15 daily from 2pm to 6.30pm while breakfast and lunch can be taken in the basement Café 15. Dinner is currently only served on Friday and Saturday evenings. For more information please visit the website.