Review: No 15 by GuestHouse, Bath
Looking for a getaway with bodice-ripping Bridgerton vibes, design-fabulous rooms and a pleasure palace of a spa? We checked into Bath's period pulse racer for the night – see what we thought here.
Set in a splendid Georgian townhouse on one of Bath’s most iconic streets, No.15 by GuestHouse opened in 2021 after a refurb by three brothers – Tristan, James and Tom Guest, whose mission it is to create guesthouses with a homely ‘made-with-love’ vibe – and it packs a punch with a pulse-racing, period-drama feel.
Sandwiched between the eye-wateringly beautiful Pulteney Bridge one end (you’ll feel like you’re standing on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence) and the Holburne Museum at the other, you couldn’t get a more bodice-ripping Bridgerton themed setting. Set over three 18th century townhouses spanning six floors, it’s truly tardis-like, and if you are Bath-bound for the Regency charm it’s so famous for, you’re in for a treat.
This boutique Grade I-listed hotel also features a cocktail bar with resident mixologist, a stand-out restaurant and the sexiest of spas (more on that later). For all its beauty, Bath can also be pretty tourist-tastic at times, but the hotel itself backs onto the lush green Henrietta Park and has a super-quiet location, whilst being a 5-minute walk from the the Roman Baths, Abbey, cafes, restaurants. Another plus for anyone checking in, there’s even a car park around the back you can use, which is gold dust in Bath.
Fabulously cheeky and playful. You’re greeted in the lobby by something akin to a Wes Anderson film set (think Hotel Budapest but even cooler). Statement fireplaces, glittering chandeliers, a giant Big Ben, tangerine tones and bottom-beckoning seating, with a grand ‘Lobby Boy’ painting by award-winning artist John Lloyd (I was assured it’s not David Beckham!). It sets the tone for the rest of the hotel which is a riot of curios, mismatched objets d’art and modern artwork, chiming with No.15’s style-motto of ‘wonder-filled and happy hotels’. From the Lost Earring chandelier, crafted from thousands of earrings to kaleidoscopes, lights made of musical instruments and collages of rustic cutlery, it’s a fascinating place.
The crowd is as eclectic as the decor. From weekend-ing couples to small groups of friends, there’s a younger audience than Bath’s other big hotels, perhaps attracted by the hotel’s undeniable hipness, and I saw no sign of any phallus-waving hen nights which was a bonus.
But don’t think this place is too cool for preschoolers for a second. Children of all ages are made really welcome at No.15 and the hotel can provide baby cots, story books and even cute mini teepees in the rooms. Plus, babysitters can be arranged via Norland College (Bath is where the famous college is based).
Pooches get an equally warm welcome and are positively encouraged here, which was handy as we came with the Muddy dog, Beau. They even took down his breed, name and favourite type of attention (erm, all) which was a very thoughtful touch. The hotel is happy to host up to two pups in certain rooms for £20 a night.
Everyone we came across was super-friendly and relaxed, there is no awkward formality here. We had several cocktails in the sitting room which doubles up as a breakfast room when we arrived (start as you mean to go on). It’s a gorgeously welcoming space filled with comfy Regency chairs and the most exquisite vintage-jewel topped tables (I need one of those in my boudoir pronto). The service was first class, I had no idea what I wanted so I was recommended the Hemingway Daiquiri, one of No.15’s seven ‘own’ imaginative cocktails featuring local ingredients, it was sublime (several may have been ordered).
SCOFF & QUAFF
The Dispensary, the hotel’s restaurant, is located on the lower floor and has a paired back, Regency-rocks-rustic feel with old kitchen utensils lining the walls, and original, huge stone hearths. Low-lit, with soft amber lighting and brooding Modigliani-style portraits on the walls it felt super-sultry. There is also a lovely fairy lit alfresco area which in warmer climes I imagine would be gorgeous to dine out in.
The menu is all locally sourced and seasonal, with meat from sustainably reared traditional British breeds. Local, family-run grocers Lovejoys source the fresh fruit and veg and the bread and baked goodies come from beloved Bath Institution, Bertinet Bakery.
I loved the menu here, small and beautifully curated, it felt really well thought out. Describing itself as Wild British you’ll find a combination of comforting British favourites with terrific twists.
To start, we went for the GuestHouse prawn cocktail sharing platter for 2 with Marie-Rose sauce. It had a fabulous flourish of theatrical presentation, coming on a delightful tiered stand, with delectable dips to plunge into below, including an avocado mousse and red onion & chilli relish.
The six mains on offer were all so tempting, my dinner date went for that British classic, Shepherd’s Pie with mint gray, which was incredibly filling, buttery and rich.
I had the South coast cod with lobster dumpling. It was an out and out winner and really delicious, floating in a tangy shellfish bisque, and the side of honey roasted veg was wonderful.
There were five decadent-sounding desserts on offer, my other half had the Guesthouse Sticky toffee pudding with Bath ale toffee sauce, which went so fast we could have inhaled it. And the Chocolate delice with blood orange, which was a surprise as I was expecting it to be dark chocolate, but regardless, it was incredible with both of us fighting for the last spoonful.
Suffice to say by this point neither of us had room for the Somerset cave aged cheddar with Bath Oliver biscuits, however tempting it sounded.
No.15 is passionate about local designers, with touches by Bath interiors creators Woodhouse and Law and Rossiters of Bath, and funky artwork by graduates of the revered Bath School of Art. Also behind the style-up is Martin Hulbert Design, the man behind Chewton Glen, Coworth Park, Cliveden and Barnsley House in the Cotswolds.
There are 37 bedrooms in the main townhouse and the one separate Coach House, and no two rooms are the same, from Small Guest Rooms to the 55 square meter Hideout apartment, with its own steam room and hot tub. We were lucky enough to bag a grand Pulteney Room on the second floor, super spacious, it is like stepping onto a Bridgerton film set, all tall Georgian ceilings, wide wooden shutters, four poster bed and glittering chandelier. I mean, you couldn’t be more in a Jane Austen novel if you teleported.
All the rooms come with the most Hypnos Lansdowne cashmere mattresses, 200-thread-count Egyptian cotton linen, WiFi and a Nespresso kit housed in cool dolls houses. I even got to try out a Dyson hairdryer for the first time – no rattly travel dryers here.
The bathroom also deserves a mention. It was cavernous and filled with lovely 100 Acres Apothecary smellies, a decadent marble topped washstand and rainforest shower, and I could have spent hours in the roll top bath tub gazing up at the blown glass artwork.
Muddy dog Beauie was in doggy heaven, awaiting him was a pooch welcome box, including bowls (we always forget ours), a toy, a blanket and lots of snacks. And I loved the large period-style Dolls House that you open the doors on to find the tea and coffee.
One of my favourite quirks in the room was the record player. If you’re a lover of old vinyl or epic albums you’re in for a treat. You can pop down to the cool record wall next to the lobby to change them whenever you want. We spent ages thumbing through some greats – Billy Joel, Elton, Ella Fitzgerald, and so on – before taking them back to the room for a listen. So fun!
You wouldn’t generally expect a spa at a townhouse, space often doesn’t permit one. But not at No.15. The hotel manages to pull off one of the sexiest sanctuaries I’ve ever visited. The spa spans two floors, including a relaxation room with gorgeous old apothecary bottles lining the walls.
Downstairs from the treatment rooms and tucked away in the vaulted basement is a subterranean pleasure palace with a cavernous, round copper bath. With its exposed brickwork and shelves of amphorae it’s a rather cool nod to Bath’s Roman heritage. We booked in for the Copper Bath Experience for 2, and if you have ever wondered what heaven looks like, this is probably it.
The treatment itself is an utterly hedonistic 90 minutes of full body bliss. First of all you climb into the giant tub and soak in the bath with your partner for 30 minutes. The organic, magnesium-rich salts in the water felt amazing, drawing out the week’s tensions within minutes – wisps of aromatherapy steam wafting into the air as you relax. Alongside this we had a little tray of gorgeously scented body scrubs and face masks to apply and glasses of English fizz (or juice if you prefer) to quaff.
We didn’t want to get out (ever) but needs must, and after half an hour the therapists returned to gently coax us out for the treatments.
After scooping ourselves out of the bath we floated over to the couples treatment tables for a 60 minute treatment side by side. We went for full body massages which were incredible, each therapist tailoring the firmness of the treatment to how we wanted it. To top it off you choose between a bespoke facial or a relaxing eucalyptus foot massage (we plumped for one each). By this point I’d say I was the most relaxed I have ever been in my entire life, and I definitely heard my husband snore more than once.
All the oils are made in Britain by Pinks Boutique and are vegan, organic and sustainably sourced, plus you get sent away with a little mini bottle and a treatment card too for a little pick me up at home.
The whole experience was absolutely incredible and if you want a pick me up that’s slightly different from the norm this one is a real winner. If the couples thing isn’t for you, you can also take your pick from a range of holistic, mood-boosting treatments which include facials, hot stones, mum-to-be massages and reflexology.
A fabulous perk of staying at No.15 is the Pantry. Take a trip up to the top floor and there is a generous larder, filled with snacks, sweets, flapjacks, brownies and drinks, which you can help yourself to at any time. Talk about feeling like a kid in a (literal) sweet shop, what a wonderful idea. My kids eyes would have popped out if they’d been with us. We made a beeline for a bag of delicious flapjacks before heading out to explore for the afternoon, they were so good we might possibly have snuck back for a second bag later on.
OUT AND ABOUT
There’s so much to do in Bath you’ll be spoilt for choice. Take a stroll around the centre with its Georgian architecture, the Bath Abbey quarter, or the famous Royal Crescent to get a full Sense and Sensibility hit. Famous for its hot springs, the iconic Roman Baths are five minutes away where you can see the collonaded plunge pools of the Romans. Go to the nearby Thermae Bath Spa for a dip in mineral-rich waters with a stunning rooftop infinity pool (make sure to get there early it fills up quick). Or pick up a cup of spa water with 43 minerals from the Roman Baths’ Pump Room.
Other must-visits include the Holburne Museum for a dose of culture where you’ll find Dutch masters, fine English beadwork and tapestries. Or go to the Jane Austen Centre (Bath’s most celebrated ex resident) to get your fix of period costumes and literary culture. And if you just want to flex your credit card head to Walcot Street in the centre where there are loads of boutiques tucked in amongst the high street usuals.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: If you seek a bit of history teamed with fabulous modern design and a local lilt, this is the place for you. A chic city stay, it’s spot on for boutique bolthole seekers, couples, dog-lovers, special occasions and families looking for something a bit special. With its stunning spa and stand-out restaurant modern day epicureans and pleasure seekers will love it. If this place was a Bridgerton character it’d be Regé-Jean Page – pass the smelling salts – we’re ready to swoon.
Not for: Ultra modernists, or, if you’re after a rowdy hen or stag night this incredibly stylish setting probably won’t be your thing. There’s no room service officially (but like anything, it can be arranged if you want).
The damage: A stay for two in a small guest room starts at £144 per night. A three-course dinner for two skimmed in at just under £100 which was very well worth it considering the quality, service and surroundings.
The cocktails at No.15, including the ultra-delicious Hemingway Daiquiri, come in at around £15. Not on the cheap side, but worth every sip if you love well-made cocktails in a beautiful bar. There’s a great value kids menu here too, offering three courses for £10. The Copper Room Experience costs £285 per couple.
For more information or to book head to www.guesthousehotels.co.uk.