Ghost-chasing in Gothic Bath is a thrilling way to see the city
THE WEEKEND: You might not think of Bath as the perfect place for a Halloween getaway, but there’s more to this city’s history than extravagant balls and witty debutantes. Mary Shelley was a resident and fans of gothic horror should check out the excellent House of Frankenstein, a highly interactive museum dedicated to the author and her chilling novel. The writer Angela Carter was a resident of Hay Hill in Bath when she wrote her gothic fairy tale collection, The Bloody Chamber. Nearby there’s also the imposing Beckford’s Tower, a neo-classical folly built by William Beckford, author of gruesome gothic horror novel, Vathek. You should also visit Brown’s Folly in the eerie Sally-in-the-Wood – both the tower itself and the woods are haunted by a murdered girl who can be heard crying at night. Want to buy a few scary books while you’re here? Bath has two beautiful independent bookstores: Mr B’s Emporium and Toppings.
WHERE? Situated on beautiful Great Pulteney Street, the famous thoroughfare designed by architect Thomas Baldwin, No 15 is the perfect base from which to explore the city. With its maze of winding corridors and narrow staircases, the guesthouse retains the feel of a proper Bath townhouse, accentuated by tasteful interior decoration in muted Farrow and Ball tones. There are only 36 rooms so it has the intimate feel of a home rather than a hotel, a feeling accentuated by the friendly staff who are happy to share their knowledge of the city: the places they recommended to us – artisan coffee shop Colonna & Small’s and cool bars, Beneath and The Dark Horse were excellent. Downstairs in the basement, there’s a spa with a range of treatments and therapies, including a giant copper bath filled with magnesium-rich salts, and something called ‘Ease Your Tension’, the most relaxing back and shoulder massage in the city. Bath’s posh hotels can feel rather intimidating and aloof, but No 15 is a warm and hospitable place, grand without being grandiose.
THE STAY: We stayed in one of the Pulteney rooms on the first floor, featuring lovely high ceilings, extravagant chandeliers and vast sash windows affording wonderful views over the street to the hills beyond. The bed is huge and ridiculously comfortable, and there’s a sofa for lounging about and watching the LED TV or listening to the record player (each room has a selection of discs and there are more in a library downstairs). If you want a room in which to live out those Bridgerton or Pride and Prejudice fantasies, you’ll be in heaven.
THE FOOD: The hotel has a small restaurant offering a varied and intriguing seasonal menu, utilising lots of local ingredients, imaginatively presented. I had the Bath chaps, or cured peg’s cheek, with a homemade piccalilli – a lovely combination of tastes and textures. For main I went for the excellent shortcrust chicken pie, which was deliciously meaty and filling. There’s an excellent mixologist at the bar. If you fancy a spooky pint afterwards, head to the Garrick’s Head pub, where a ghostly woman in grey has been seen drifting about.
The West Gate pub, a 17th century coaching inn, is another perfect spot for a haunting. I didn’t quite see anything paranormal – but celebrating Halloween by visiting some of the city’s most ghostly locations certainly sends a chill.
Do Gothic Bath yourself
Rooms at No 15 Guest House start at £134 per night; Pulteney rooms from £209 a night. More information Guesthousehotels.co.uk/no-15-bath/