Boutique Hotel in Bath – Bliss at The Queensberry Hotel:
Bath is such an elegant city blending its Roman heritage and elegant Georgian sense of style with a progressive and contemporary worldview. Just two hours drive from London it’s the perfect spot for a weekend away or a midweek staycation. In this most perfectly put together of English cities there is extraordinary architecture aplenty and landscapes with wonderful vistas that open up as you turn almost every corner. So it was a real pleasure to buzz down the M4 on a crisp winter’s morning having been invited to review Bath’s premier boutique hotel, The Queensberry Hotel, and its Olive Tree restaurant, just awarded a Michelin Star in the brand new 2019 Guide. Bath is a ‘walking city’ so having my car whisked away and valet parked on arrival was brilliant. The Queensberry Hotel is named after the Marquis of Queensberry, world-renowned for his boxing ‘rules’ as well as his son’s affair with Oscar Wilde.
The boutique hotel is a delightful rabbit warren of four elegant Georgian townhouses built around 1770 that have been joined together. With its 29 bedrooms, The Queensberry became a hotel in 1987 adding The Olive Tree restaurant in 1990. The business was taken over 15 years ago by the present owners Laurence and Helen Beere. Laurence got his training in hospitality with the Savoy Group with tremendous experience in the hospitality industry and the hotel is clearly a passion project for the couple.He says “Helen and I pride ourselves on being a little old fashioned. A little quirky. If we can’t do something well we won’t do it. Everything to us is about the individual experience in the hotel.”
I’m really struck how the hotel’s public spaces marry together Georgian tradition with a contemporary design ethos. The Drawing Room is both comfortable and super-stylish, perfect for a relaxing lounge…
And the quirky Old Q Bar and Lower Bar have an intriguing spirits collection, eschewing traditional big brands, preferring small artisanal producers instead.
For the summer months, there is a charming walled Garden with patio fires to keep you warm in the evening.
We were staying in a top floor room (there is a lift!) with a romantic view over the city’s rooftops. The Queensberry Hotel bedrooms were recently redesigned in true boutique hotel style to include comfy Harrison Spinks luxury beds, a DAB radio and flat-screen TV to keep you entertained. After a seductive bubble bath in the standalone tub using the White Company toiletries and cosy white dress gowns it was time for dinner. It was lovely to be able to slip downstairs and not have to go out into the cold evening to visit the Olive Tree restaurant. Chef Chris Cleghorn has created a flexible set of menus with 5 and 7-course tasting menus (£68 and £82), optional wine pairings as well as dairy-free and vegetarian menus.
The interior of The Olive Tree is decked out in olive green and cream with wooden floors. The restaurant is full with a gentle buzz of gastronomic excitement coming from the punters. Sharing the mood we open up with a crisp appley glass of Sussex Wiston Estate Blanc de Blanc fizz – perfect for stimulating the taste buds for our pre-starters.
A smooth, intense dollop of smoked cod’s roe arrived served on a sunflower seed biscuit bound with honey. It was as if a rustic taramasalata had gone to a Swiss finishing school. A cheese and truffle profiterole was a sensual mouthful of soft light cream cheese and choices pastry overlayed with rich truffle cream. So delicious! Moving on to wine with the meal we chose a glass of a classic 2017 New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from winemaker Alan Scott, full of grassy and passionfruit flavours, and the citrus notes of Domaine Du Grand Mayne, Réserve, Sauvignon/Semillon, Côtes de Duras, France, 2015.
I loved the freshness of the raw Orkney scallop in this delicate and refined dish with the subtle flavour of the mollusc beautifully counterpointed by leek, mushroom, seaweed tea with herbs, and nasturtium leaves. After the gentleness of the scallop, flavours were ramped up with a dish of chalk stream trout in which the richness of the fish was complemented by a cured horseradish cream and the frozen citrus of pink grapefruit segments. What could be more super-luxe and perfect for a winter night than a bowl of silky tagliatelle strands slathered in a 36 month aged Parmesan butter with scalloped white truffle?
I love having a separate bread course. Treacle and rye bread was a dark adventure with a hint of sweetness and a playfully light clotted cream butter.
And then two perfectly cooked fish dishes. Brill was enlivened by sweet tiny brown shrimp, the citrus blast of salted lemon, poached turnip and the crunch of Hispi cabbage. Tender fillets of monkfish came with purple sprouting broccoli, roast onion, the umami hit of a black garlic sauce and a slightly watery and bland mussel cream. Then, of course, it was time for desserts. Pistachio Frangipane Tart was light and subtle, accented by the gentle sourness of the rhubarb, the freshness of Madagascar vanilla ice cream and a light orange blossom jelly.
And finally a texturally complex construction of soft mango with a citric yuzu jelly with the dryness of crispy toasted coconut and crunch of a sweet meringue giving balance. After some delicious salted caramels and coffee, it was time to head up…in the lift… for bed! It had been a wonderful meal with excellent service and was the perfect showcase for Chris Cleghorn’s cooking at The Olive Tree restaurant. He has an original voice and is unafraid to use flavour which is really exciting.
After a great night’s sleep (they shine your shoes overnight as a complimentary service) and a lie in, it was soon time for breakfast.
BA1 2QF, UK+44 (0)1225 447928https://www.thequeensberry.co.uk
Please check our roundup of boutique hotels in the UK for other hotel recommendations.
Disclosure: We were guests of The Queensberry Hotel and Olive Tree. All content is editorially given
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