News & Reviews Europe England Review: The Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath

The Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath
Room type: Deluxe Room
Duration: 13th > 15th October, 2018

It’s rare to find a property like The Royal Crescent in Bath.  I have never stayed somewhere with such low expectations, but found them lowered so much that I was eating dirt on my way out.

Needing to be near Bath for a friends wedding, what better way, I thought, then to spend the weekend completing the hat trick of luxury properties in this beautiful city; The Gainsborough and Bath Priory having experienced my awe several years ago.  So I wanted to see what The Royal Crescent had to offer. A whole lot of nothing, is the short answer.  For a city with a population less than 100,000, it is quite the feat for it to offer this range of luxury hotels – almost as impressive as the fact that someone liked me enough to invite me to their wedding – but one of these hotels is an imposter; a B&B dressed up in fake luxury goods.

Congrats, Royal Crescent, for you are truly memorable as one of the worst hotels I’ve stayed in for a very long time.  Little wonder it is no longer part of Relais & Chateaux. I very much doubt it was mutually agreed, more brutalised with words after an inspection.  I’m not entirely sure how it’s even a 5 star hotel, seeing that they only do evening turndown if requested and don’t have anyone at reception past 8pm; both surely minimum requirements.

Even worse, a hotel of this ineptitude manages to hold feelings of grandeur with their high pricing, but we are the perpetrators here, as we have allowed them.  For you see, English countryside properties (i.e. those outside of London) are mostly a failure, and an expensive one.  Have we become so afraid of foreigners that we won’t even travel to other countries to see how they actually bother to produce good hospitality?

It is a little known fact that us English are born with a defect that makes us useless at hospitality.  The higher percentage of English working in a hotel, the lower your lip will appear on your face.  I don’t know who thought it was a good idea to put us in charge, for it’s like asking the cows to take control of the slaughterhouse.  Sure, it’s nice to try something new, but the outcome is going to be the same.  They’re cows, for christ sake, they won’t be able to figure out this complex machinery and will end up dying anyway.  It’s just prolonging the suffering.

The more English it is, the worse it becomes. No wonder capital punishment is still allowed; the Queen must have to deal with this daily from her useless butler team and executions are the only way that we’ll learn.

So it was little wonder I started to get deja vu straight from check-in, when we were guided to our room by some English lady that knew about as much about the hotel as I do about furry porn, i.e. not a whole amount.  Honest, Mum.  The welcome gift: a barely recognisable plate of fruit covered in plastic; the room: the type that should only be reserved for Doomsday scenarios.  Visibly damaged, badly maintained and visible leaking from above patching the ceiling.

Some of my least favourite memories:

  • The bed was just two single beds put together. The beds must have been stolen from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory set, as my feet came off the end of it.
  • We could hear footsteps, music and the occasional not-suitable-for-children bed squeaking from other rooms
  • The way every member of staff spoke to us, except the clearly experienced, kind and professional French sommelier, was like we were a hinderance to their day.
  • Toiletries were never replenished, so they expected us to use a small bottle of shower gel for 3 days
  • Housekeeping didn’t bother doing basics, like emptying the bins
  • Water was not replenished and half-empty bottles were left; Lucie’s full bottle was finished, so they replaced it with a small bottle
  • Breakfast was awful.  I cannot remember an English hotel managing to make an English breakfast so badly.  They could not even redeem themselves with getting a strawberry yoghurt; first attempt I never hear back, second attempt they bring cherry.
  • During dinner, some guy was in the hallway playing a keyboard. It felt like some 1980s entertainment tribute to a long-lost era on Brighton Pier.
  • The spa is deceptively small compared to the website pictures. It was full the entire time – uncomfortably so, when there’s so many in the single hot tub and every 10 minutes silence kicks in whilst the bubbles turn off
  • The facial treatment Lucie had was, as expected by this stage, completely mediocre. It was delivered in a cold room, with minimum effort put in.
  • Dinner was the only decent part of the trip, but it took 35 minutes just to receive an amuse-bouche

The Good

  • The food was a rare shine of light, although it was priced similar to a London Michelin star restaurant

The Bad

  • One of the lowest end luxury countryside properties in England – which is a challenge

The Luxurious

  • Located in the highly coveted Royal Crescent area of Bath.

Conclusion

I wish I had some photos to show you, but I wanted to offer them an opportunity to improve so we asked about moving to another room.  And then we asked someone else, as no one responded.  And then we gave up.  Try as I might to have shot the spa, I could not.  Yet it was not designed to shoot it so you would want to go, quite the contrary.  It was to save you.

I have said several times that I’m not a fan of the majority of English countryside properties; no surprise when they can get away with producing such rubbish.  Avoid.  Unless your only other alternative is Salisbury.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 19th Oct '18

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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