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Winewyse News and Updates

Re-charge the Batteries With a Little Bath-Time!

Richard Esling - Friday, May 03, 2019
Re-charge the Batteries With a Little Bath-Time!

With our increasingly busy lives - whether working or retired, there always seem to be a million things to do - the need for a short getaway soon works its way to the top of the priority list. European city breaks are all the rage, but why not avoid the hassle of the airports or ferries and visit a city closer to home? The beautiful City of Bath with its wonderful Georgian architecture is surprisingly close to Sussex. My journey time the other week was only 2 hours 35 minutes door to door from Arundel to our Handpicked Hotel on the doorstep of Bath.

Bailbrook House became a Hotel in 2012 when it was taken into the Handpicked Hotels portfolio. An elegant Grade II Georgian building, it was built over a ten-year period at the end of the eighteenth century, the delay mainly due to the country being almost bankrupt from the Napoleonic Wars. Like many Grand houses, it has a chequered past, but has provided accommodation for many historic dignitaries, including William Pitt the younger. The fifteen bedrooms in the main house are all spacious and all different in character, providing a peaceful, relaxing environment in which to chill and forget the 101 items on the ‘to do’ list, at least for a while.

The hotel also boasts a very characterful gastronomic restaurant in the vaulted semi-basement, with its cloisters gallery and spacious dining area. A delicious classic English cuisine is served, with a few unusual twists. My main course was a perfectly cooked medium-rare Haunch of venison from the Mendips Hills, served with equally perfect red cabbage and an exquisite venison pithivier. Follow this with a refreshingly light Granny Smith apple mousse, accompanied by lemon curd, meringue and apple sorbet, and you will be instantly booking the return visit.

The Cloisters Restaurant naturally has a carefully selected wine list, with a decent number of good wines by the glass, always a great attribute, so as to be able to match a different glass with a different dish or choose different wines as a couple. Apart from some great classics from Bordeaux and Burgundy, there is an interesting selection from other parts of Europe and the New World. Chilean wines from the excellent Valdevieso producer immediately caught my attention and with the apple dessert, I couldn’t resist a small glass of the Eclat Botrytis Semillon. Delicious honeyed sweetness balanced by fresh acidity, with intense candied citrus flavours.

The house red is another irresistible gem, with a cleverly chosen name. Utterly quaffable, it comes from Tuscany and is a blend of Sangiovese with Cabernet and Merlot. Smooth, velvety, full-bodied, with flavours of dark fruits and cherries and deep colour, it is incredibly good value at £8 for a large 250 ml glass and was a great match for my venison. The name is ‘Raccolto a Mano’, which is Italian for ‘Hand-picked’ - custom made for the house red of the Hotel group.

The city of Bath is a relaxing city to explore on foot, but notoriously difficult for traffic. Rumour has it that congestion charging will soon apply, but from the Bailbrook Hotel, an easy 10-minute bus ride takes you to the centre. Here you can discover the 8th century Bath Abbey, with its stunning and colossal stained-glass windows, delve into the dozens of independent specialist shops, such as the Fine Cheese Co on Walcot Street, or the specialist hat shop and of course, wonder at the 2000-year-old Roman baths, one of the finest spas of the ancient world.

There are currently 19 establishments in the Handpicked Hotels group, from Edinburgh to the Channel Islands. Plenty more excuses to forget your troubles and recharge the batteries.