Bath’s Francis Hotel offers the perfect spot from which to explore the city with your four-legged friend in tow.
There has been much discussion between my partner and I about whether to take our dog, Boomer, on holiday with us. We love the idea of an adventure as a three, but there is undeniable appeal in the thought of a couple of days of lie-ins and mud free clothing… In the end, the puppy eyes win, Boomer’s tail whipping with excitement as he manages to wrangle himself on yet another staycation.
We are spending a few days in Bath, on the banks of the River Avon. Famous for its Roman baths, Georgian architecture and World Heritage status, the city is also known for its creative, laid-back attitude, diverse cultural offering and foodie scene. Small enough to explore on foot, there is nonetheless more than enough to keep us busy.
The downsides to being a dog parent are few, though having a four-legged friend in tow often means having to forgo certain luxuries. Luckily for us, not this time; we are staying at The Francis, a delightful Grade I listed, dog-friendly boutique hotel. Part of the Sutton Hotel Collection, the handsome hotel has 98 thoughtfully designed bedrooms spread over seven 18th century limestone-clad Regency townhouses right on the edge of Queen Square Lawn, one of the prettiest Georgian garden squares in the heart of the city.
The hotel is named after Solomon Francis, who began hosting paying guests in one of the townhouses back in 1858. The air raids of the Second World War led to significant bomb damage, though you’d be hard pressed to guess, so meticulous was the subsequent restoration. The Georgian splendour has been given a modern twist, with bold, maximalist interiors schemes that embrace the original features and antique furnishings.
The greeting is warm and sincere – it is clear that dogs are loved here, not merely tolerated. After the obligatory treats and cuddles, we are led upstairs to our room on the second floor. Passing between the different townhouses in the corridors, blue plaques on the walls indicate distinguished past residents – notably John Wood the Elder, the architect responsible for the creation of Queen Square.
Our room overlooks the peaceful square. Elegant and charming, it is decorated in a palette of cool blues and greys, with bold nautical stripes in the en suite. It is a good size, with a sumptuous looking bed and comfortable seating area.
Boomer has been treated to his own doggie comfort package, which includes a super soft bed and blanket. He is clearly in his element, so we decide to leave him to make himself at home in the room while we steal a sunny hour on the hotel’s open-air terrace – a mini oasis in the heart of the city, it is the perfect spot for an al fresco drink. As the warm sun dips below the buildings and the light fades from the sky, with stomachs beginning to rumble, we make our way inside to Boho Marché, the hotel’s French-Moroccan restaurant.
It is 8pm on a Sunday, but the restaurant is buzzing – this is clearly a popular spot. Large, dimly-lit paper lampshades hang from the ceiling, bold floral wallpaper adorns the pink-hued, crumbling stone walls, and a beautiful tangle of leafy green plants blooms over the bar, giving the space a very bohemian vibe.
With an emphasis on hand-sourced produce, Boho Marché offers an eclectic twist on gourmet dining. The starters are perfect for sharing, a highlight being the homemade Barbari bread and smoky hummus. For mains, no detail has been left unconsidered: the tagine is complemented by the most delicate Middle Eastern flavours, and tender sirloin steak is paired perfectly with a vibrant chimichurri.
We end the evening with a couple of cocktails in the hotel’s welcoming No.10 bar, but not before popping up to invite Boomer down to join us. Though back in the room, we discover he has eschewed his dog bed and is curled up tightly in the comfort of our freshly laundered sheets, so sleepy that he barely notices us creep back out.
Breakfast the next morning is as delicious as dinner, and sets us up for a joyful morning spent discovering Bath’s beautiful history. While we could happily have spent another day or two exploring the boutiques and heading out to walk in the hills on the edges of the city, we have to head back to London after lunch, but The Francis Hotel’s charm is such that we suspect we’ll be back very soon.
Room rates at Francis Hotel Bath start from £139 per night inclusive of breakfast and VAT. For more information, see francishotel.com