The Villa at Henrietta Park B'nB - One of Bath's Best Kept Secrets

5-Star Guest House With Witty Decor and a Fresh Bright Style

Guestroom at Villa at Henrietta Park in Bath
© Ferne Arfin

The Villa at Henrietta Park (until recently the Villa Magdala) is one of Bath's best insider secrets. And people in the know agree its rooms are simply delightful to wake up in.

Happy families may be all alike but, to twist Tolstoy's pronouncement a little bit, every happy hotel room is happy in its own way.* Some are a pleasure to fall asleep in, some to hang out in, some to seduce or romance in.You will just love waking up to the small of brewing coffee after a good night's sleep at this charming little place.

Good Morning Bath

Daylight (and, if you are lucky,even sunlight) streams in between the slats of creamy white shutters. Bird song rides the breeze from the Henrietta Gardens, a little park across the street. And,thanks to solid Victorian construction, if other guests are up and about, you'll never know.

There's everything you need to make yourself a morning cuppa - including fresh milk - and a comfortable chair or two to sit in if you want to potter about in your room, reading the complimentary newspaper or catching up on the free WiFi before going down to breakfast.

And breakfast, once you're ready, is quite an event. Of course, there's the usual full English if that's your thing, as well as a buffet of cereals, yogurts,juices and breads. But the "dedicated breakfast chef" at the Villa at Henrietta Park does more than the usual fry up. The seasonally changing menu might include waffles with maple syrup and bananas, buttermilk pancakes with grilled fruit, honey and mascarpone, or a lemon and blueberry breakfast fool with homemade granola, greek yoghurt, lemon curd and blueberries.

A Bucks Fizz (orange juice and champagne) is included and, on the day I visited, a little taster of yoghurt blended with berries was offered as an extra first course (in much the same way that chefs these days offer tiny teacups of mushroom soup or asparagus foam as an amuse bouche). It's served in a pair of rooms wrapped with large windows on two sides and decorated with a modern abstract floral wallpaper that manages to be brash and calming at the same time - quite a trick.

Decor

Clever use of wallpaper is a feature throughout the house - actually a pair of Victorian townhouses that have been joined. As you enter, you are faced with the dramatic curves of a polished wooden flying staircase that seems to go on forever, interrupted only by what appears to be acres of books. It's all done with mirrors, literally: when I tried to turn left at the top of the stairs outside my room, I stopped just in time to avoid an embarrassing face full of mirror. And the books? Well if you haven't already guessed, those bookcases, positioned in the oddest places, are wallpaper trompe l'oeil. The total effect makes the 20-room guesthouse appear even bigger than it is - like Dr. Who's Tardis. (Since the hotel changed hands and changed its name from the Villa Magdala, this exuberant decor seems to have been toned down a bit - which is a shame).

Location

The hotel, which styles itself a boutique guest house, is located on a quiet residential street about 10 minutes from Pulteney Bridge and the main attractions of Bath center. The walk is entirely on the flat so if walking up and down Bath's hills is a concern, you've got nothing to worry about.** It's surrounded by it's own small, private garden with chairs and tables for sitting out in good weather.

Cross the street to Henrietta Gardens and head diagonally left across the park and you'll emerge about 50 yards from The Holburne Museum, Sydney Gardens and Jane Austen's house on Sydney Place (not open to the public but indicated with a historic marker).

And the Room?

Ah yes, the room - the main event after all. There are three classes, Good, Better and Best. All are attractively furnished with comfortable beds, Egyptian cotton sheets, a dressing table with a good quality hair dryer, a clothes closet with real hangers, flat screen television and enough electrical outlets for all your kit. (Some guests have commented that shower room facilities in the "Good" class of rooms are too small.) Each is individually decorated. Mine was mostly white with modern, blue and white floral wallpaper on a feature wall, and subtly striped blue and white carpet.

The white tiled bathroom, with black counter top and accents, was on the small side but sparkling. If I had even a teensy complaint, it might be that the space could have been better used with a stylish, stall shower rather than a shower over a smallish bath. The huge bath sheets and the lovely White Company toiletries made up for any disappointment. Bathrobes and slippers are also available for a small fee.

Essentials

  • Address: Villa at Henrietta Park, Henrietta Road, Bath BA2 6LX
  • Telephone: +44 (0)1225 466329
  • Price Band:$$$, some midweek and last minute deals available.
  • Parking: Free if you book directly but a fee is charged if you book through a third party booking website.

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* Leo Tolstoy famously began "Anna Karenina" with this opening line: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

** Ask for a ground floor room if accessibility is an issue as the hotel has no lift and a great number of stairs. Entry to the building requires negotiating a short flight of steps as well.

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.