It's a big call, but we think Bath might just be the most Christmassy place in the entire UK. Not only does the ancient city put on a whopping 60 carol concerts across the festive season, but it has one of the biggest and - dare we say - best Christmas markets in the country (despite being held virtually this year). Then, there's the city's extraordinary Georgian architecture and impeccably preserved Roman bathhouse, Thermae Bath Spa. On top of all this, Bath is also notable as having been Jane Austen's hometown during the early 1800s and the setting for several of her novels, including parts of Pride and Prejudice, and what could be more redolent of Christmas cheer than a viewing of Pride and Prejudice?
Bring on the festive cheer: this is Bath's best Christmas stay
What's even more exciting is that we've found the perfect partner for a festive staycation in the city. Enter No.15 by Guesthouse, Bath; a heritage hotel turned modern boutique bolthole. Formerly known as No.15 Great Pulteney, the Grade-I listed Georgian townhouse has been revamped by renowned designer Martin Hulbert, who also masterminded the hotel's original interiors, and who has injected a wonderfully whimsical contemporary spin to the classic British crashpad. And when we say whimsical, we mean it in the very best sense of the word: everything from the hotel's quirky art collection to its in-house newspaper, packed with insider travel tips, has been crafted with personality and the utmost attention to detail.
Arrive into Bath Spa train station and you'll have the option of being met by one of the hotel's friendly team, who'll whisk your suitcases back to base at your discretion, leaving you footloose and luggage-free to explore the city as soon as you touch down. When you do arrive at your new home from home, you'll pass through the reception area: don't forget to look up. Above you will be a chandelier made entirely of earrings, and it's definitely not one to miss. The story goes that Hulbert created the masterpiece by gathering umpteen single earrings from his friends who'd lost the other one from the pair along the way. Genius, right?
Next, you'll wend your way upstairs to one of 37 uniquely decorated bedrooms, passing irreverent curios including a dolls' house where room keys are stored (keep an eye out for these in your bedroom, too - they'll be hiding a handy Nespresso machine), a chandelier made of trumpets and Hulbert's own artist's palette adorning the wall above the bar. See what we mean when we say quirky?
Once inside your room, luxurious touches greet you at every turn, and we're not just talking fancy bathroom products - which are all from Aromatherapy Associates, incidentally - but things like a Dyson hairdryer (who knew hair could dry so fast!), a record player with a cool collection of LPs stashed below its stand and a snazzy LED TV complete with all the channels you could possibly hope for.
Feeling peckish? There's no shortage of good grub here. Either head down to the hotel's elegant basement dining room for quality British fare cooked to perfection - breakfast treats include pancakes, crumpets and homemade apple and cinnamon Bircher - or nip up to the hotel's complimentary communal snack stock for an after-hours treat. Found on the second floor, the "pantry" is a warren of secret nibbles including homemade brownies, fudge and tubs of sumptuous ice cream. Just make sure you get there before the other midnight feasters clean out supplies.
Finally, if you're after a serious pampering session, make a beeline straight to the subterranean spa for a treatment you won't forget (think anything from reflexology and hot stone massages to a bespoke couples' ritual in a giant copper bathtub). Aside from its impressive facilities, the spa is also another window into Regency times, nodding to Jane Austen's Bath with a colour palette riffing on the novelist's favourite shade, duck egg blue, and with old-fashioned apothecary jars lining the walls of its reception area.
All in all, we're calling out the fact that you may never want to step outside as the only drawback to this hotel. Spoiler alert: we didn't, and we're all the better for it.