The Gainsborough Bath Spa
Inspired by its Georgian roots, The Gainsborough Bath Spa has been designed to reflect the city’s history while providing a modern luxury experience. Hamish Kilburn explains…
Set in a grade-II-listed building in the historical city of Bath, The Gainsborough Bath Spa is a historical reference of the town with its majestic pillars and Georgian-inspired interiors – carefully curated to tell the tale of time.
The hotel has been elegantly designed by internationally acclaimed, New York-based, Champalimaud Design and EPR Architects London. The designers had Bath’s classical roots in mind, while interoperating to suit the modern guest.
Tapping into the original thermal sprints, the spa offers a contemporary perspective on the city’s thermal water heritage. The design of The Gainsborough Bath Spa pays homage to its colourful history in a fusion of contemporary style and Georgian–era influences.
Situated atop the vestiges of a Roman Settlement and the remains of ancient Roman Baths, the Gainsborough story begins within its foundations. At the onset of redevelopment process, archaeological excavations uncovered the ‘Beau Street Hoard.’ The Hoard is comprised of over 17,000 ancient coins, and now forms a part of The Gainsborough Bath Spa’s earliest chapter and exciting future legacy. The property as we see it today was built as the United Hospital in 1824, with designs by renowned architect John Pinch. In 1932, the Hospital closed and the property became home to Bath College of Art & Design until 2005. The property owes its name to the College, paying homage to the famed portrait artist, Thomas Gainsborough, who was a central figure in Bath society. To honour that legacy, YTL has selected three students from the College and have commissioned from them exclusive artwork for the Gainsborough Bath Spa to feature prominently in its public spaces.
Anthony Champalimaud, Vice President of Development, YTL Hotels, “While we have rooted the design and features of the Gainsborough Bath Spa in its strong, listed, Georgian characteristics, our intent has been to offer something new. Our design team has introduced contemporary elements respectful of the fabric of the building and its surroundings. While the hotel is designed to pay deference to history, it does so in a manner that appeals to, and engages with, the present. The Gainsborough Bath Spa is designed to be welcoming, vibrant and social – a meaningful and enduring contribution to the life of the city.”
The hotel offers opulent rooms with breathtaking views of the city and its surrounding hills. Each room is flooded with light from 16ft tall windows framed by long dramatic draperies. Each feature of the guest rooms are bespoke. For example an inviting contemporary two-poster bed features a playful antimacassar over the headboard designed by Champalimaud in collaboration with Kravet. The design, on toile, depicts a classic Gainsborough pastoral scene. A Champalimaud designed custom built-in wardrobe features in each of the guest rooms with lighted, burl wood interior, drawers and ample hanging space. Marble bathrooms feature alcove roll top bath tubs with traditional brightware plumbing fixtures and under floor heating. Three exclusive Spa Suites are the only guest rooms in the UK to offer guests in-bathroom access to the thermal waters via a third tap, giving guests the luxurious choice of bathing in thermal or non-thermal water.
Spa Village Bath is the only UK hotel spa to provide direct access to natural thermal waters – one of the most exciting features of The Gainsborough Bath Spa. The spa’s design fuses modern elements with traditional architecture typical to surviving examples of Roman Baths. At its heart are three healing pools of warm thermal water beneath a contemporary glass atrium. The spa is spread over two levels. On the lower level there are treatment rooms, an ice room, infra-red sauna, traditional sauna, steam room, luxurious men’s and ladies changing rooms and the thermal pools.
Between the columns of the Romanesque colonnade and feature wall surrounding the largest of the pools of the Bath House, are niches clad in custom glass mosaics in blue and grey. Designed to reflect the thermal water and the Bath sky beneath the glass roof above, bathers will sit amongst the columns enjoying massaging jets of therapeutic water. Above, three contemporary interpretations of Georgian lanterns illuminate the Bath House, adding another contemporary edge to the spa’s design.
On the second level, linking the Gainsborough to its sister YTL property, Green Leaf Niseko Village, in Japan, a Tatami and a VIP room complete with an Ofuru-style tub (a wooden Japanese soaking tub accented with river rocks) is a feature element honouring the Asian hydrotherapy tradition. Ensconced further within is a cloistered space called the Fountain Room where guests are invited to taste the mineral-laden thermal water – a practice known to Roman bathers in Bath – and to meditate on a waterfall in contemplative solitude.
At The Gainsborough Bath Spa, hotel guests and Bath residents will enjoy a stunning restaurant with a chic country bistro feel that seats up to 94. Warmly appointed with butterscotch coloured leather seating, herringbone floors and soft banquets nested in windowed niches, guest will find a seating arrangement to suit their mood beneath high, beamed ceilings, and contemporary lighting
The Gainsborough Bath Spa offers a unique retreat that, together with its sumptuous guest rooms and suites, is everything a British spa should be. Its undisturbed ambience of a Georgian-styled grade-II-listed building adds context to guests stay and sets this spa aside from any other luxury retreat in the world.