Tucked away in a browned-butter-hued townhouse on one of Bath’s grandest Georgian blocks sits No. 15 Great Pulteney—a brand new boutique hotel jam-packed with curios awaiting discovery. Sprung from the eclectic imaginations of hoteliers Ian and Christa Taylor and star interiors firm Martin Hulbert Design (of WLL’s favourites Coworth Park and Chewton Glen), No. 15 shakes up the sometimes-stuffy city of Bath with enthusiastically flamboyant, arty décor, an inventive cocktail bar, award-winning café and refreshingly unique spa.
The common areas and each of the 40 guest rooms are idiosyncratically outfitted with splashy bespoke paintings and dramatic objets d’art, such as chandeliers formed from antique musical instruments or hundreds of single earrings, Plexiglas tables fitted with chemist bottles, and whimsical dollhouses that store tea sets and Nespresso machines. There isn’t a bare wall in sight: every nook and cranny is stuffed with surprise and designed to delight (or at the very least to be Instagrammed). There are real fireplaces throughout, adding a cosy warmth and period appeal to an otherwise avant-garde space. Don’t miss the public bathrooms adorned with hand-painted wallpaper and—you guessed it—more inventive chandeliers.
This quirky-cool, slightly bonkers theme carries over into Bar 15, which beats as the hotel’s heart (more so than the hotel’s petite lobby) and offers up 52 decidedly original cocktails spread across a menu of playing cards. Downstairs, Café 15 serves up country-style comfort food and major apothecary vibes, with walls bejeweled with glowing glass bottles under trippy, blown-glass light fixtures.
Also hidden below is the newly opened Spa 15, featuring moodily lit stone vaults with a cedar hot tub and barrel-shaped sauna. There are also four bespoke treatment rooms, decorated with calming-but-still-kitsch coral and bead artwork.
Every guestroom is its own cave of wonders at No. 15. Once behind closed doors, you’re free to come eye-to-eye with the treasures and trinkets and statement artwork. The Pulteney Junior Suite—with three sash windows overlooking the street—is at once intimate and intriguing, with an overstuffed Hypnos Lansdowne Cashmere bed and vintage bone china, and grand and imposing, boasting no less than three glittery chandlers (including one in the bathroom) and a massive bedside canvas, slapping the room with an epic burst of colourful modernity.
The pristine, high-ceilinged bathroom sports a pretty ceramic basin, framed swathes of antique lace, and organic Bamford toiletries smelling of geranium, lavender, and peppermint (the ultra-luxe Dyson hair dryer is a nice touch too).
Stop by Bar 15, even if you’re not staying at the hotel. Artisanal craft cocktails are having a bit of a gimmicky moment, so I’m quick to criticise when bartenders—ahem, I mean mixologists—put style over substance, but Bar 15 delivers the goods. Not only are the drinks playfully presented, but they’re well crafted. Try the Easy Like Sunday Morning (Pyrat XO rum, Galliano, warm milk, egg white, and Tonka bean), which my husband describes as tasting like “kittens playing”—a metaphor that should be taken encouragingly. The bar also serves a basic all-day menu of sandwiches and charcuterie boards and a whimsical afternoon tea of own-brand teas and imaginative sweets (such as blackcurrant, yuzu, and coconut set cream).
Café 15 wasn’t open for dinner when I visited on a Sunday; however, I did get to try their breakfast (included in the rate). It is a straightforward affair with made-to-order staples and a small buffet spread, which includes a bottle of bubbly for DIY mimosas. The piping hot, French-style herb and mushroom omelette was noteworthy.
Who goes there?
With a tagline of “luxury for the curious,” No. 15’s unusual interiors and fiercely individual spirit is best suited for the “creative class” traveller looking for something different from Bath’s customary historic grandeur and white-gloved luxury. But in actuality, No. 15’s clientele runs the gamut. At breakfast, there’s a quartet of middle-aged Japanese tourists, a family with young children, a group of university-aged couples and an older gentleman sitting alone.
Out & about:
Bath is a beautiful miniature city chock-full of charm. In addition to the Roman baths, romantic architecture, and literary hotspots, check out Bath’s many artisanal restaurants and gourmet shops such as The Fine Cheese Co., the Bath original that now offers its products around the country (the croque monsieur and raclette are both worth trying). There are also many independent shops along the lines of the adorable Meticulous Ink, where you can buy paper goods and fine stationery, or hand-woven textile shop Katherine Fraser, for one-off scarves and wraps crafted with wool and cashmere. No. 15 is perfectly positioned for exploration.
The worst thing:
Because the beautiful Pulteney Junior Suite is set at the top of the staircase, noise from other guests was a bit of an issue at night. Also, there was no way to control the temperature in the room, which was minor annoyance. Lastly, though the rest of the hotel was absolutely immaculate, I couldn’t help but notice that the carpet in the bar needed replacing.
The best thing:
The plump beds and accompanying pillow menus are truly worth ooh-ing and ahh-ing over. Also, on the top floor there’s a “help-yourself” larder where you’ll find a cherry-red, retro icebox stocked with miniature tubs of organic Marshfield Farm Ice Cream in flavours such as salted caramel!