If you’re going to Bath to experience the English city’s legendary thermal waters and to pretend to be royalty for a night or two, then consider our luxury hotel picks for your short list of where to stay. These are the proud country homes and historic former estates that we’ve deemed to be the most luxurious hotels in Bath, England.


The Gainsborough Bath Spa

Bath, Somerset, England, United Kingdom

Even in a part of England filled with grand old manor hotels, Gainsborough Bath Spa sets the standard for five-pearl luxury with its exceptional amenities and service. The sophisticated hotel is set in a historic building in the heart of Bath, and its crowning glory is the spa, which features an elegant atrium pool that draws water from Bath's ancient thermal springs. The spa also has saunas, steam rooms, relaxation areas, 11 treatment rooms, and a fitness center. The fine-dining restaurant is another standout, with parquet floors, leathery chairs, blue paneled walls, and a black marble fireplace; there are also a cocktail lounge, a posh bar, and 24-hour room service. The hotel's 99 rooms and suites pair Georgian style with contemporary details and high-end amenities like Nespresso coffeemakers, Roberts radios, iPod docks, and free minibars. The rooms at the Gainsborough have a slight edge over those at the Royal Crescent, and are more consistent within each category; at Royal Crescent, the room sizes can vary quite a bit even within the same category. The Gainsborough also has the better and larger spa, with thermal waters (which the Royal Crescent lacks), and the location is more central than the Royal Crescent's (a pro for most, but a possible con for those who dislike the more urban surrounds). All these factors help push the Gainsborough to the top spot.


The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa

Bath, Somerset, England, United Kingdom

Located on The Royal Crescent (Bath's most famous street) and perhaps one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in England, this Relais & Chateaux hotel has a traditionally elegant look. The hotel is a close second behind the Gainsborough, and some will prefer the vibe and decor here. While the aristocracy used to roam the halls, today celebrities -- from Hollywood starlets to heads of state -- are often seen milling about the grounds. The 45 rooms are all unique in size and structure, due to the protected building's preservation codes. Modern amenities include flat-screen TVs and free in-room Wi-Fi, while interesting details like silk wallpaper and four-poster beds in some rooms point to the hotel's Georgian heritage. The marble bathrooms include robes, slippers, and top-of-the-line toiletries. The spa here is sublime and features holistic treatments as well as a 40-foot pool, a vitality pool, a steam room, a Himalayan-salt-infused sauna, and a fully outfitted fitness center. Award-winning fine dining and full afternoon tea service are both available.


The Bath Priory

Bath, Somerset, England, United Kingdom

Everything about the Bath Priory speaks to well-mannered manor living. The wrought-iron gated circular drive leading up to this estate's impressive Gothic-inspired entrance gives arriving guests a sense that they’re pulling into a place of distinction. (The pricey cars parked out front also make clear the upscale patronage of this hotel.) Located just north of the city center, the independently owned property is surrounded by four acres of splendid gardens and houses a Michelin-starred restaurant along with a posh spa, indoor pool (there's also a seasonal outdoor pool), and a fitness center. The 33 guest rooms are classically British with modern amenities -- including free Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs -- and the common areas ooze Old World appeal with antiques, fireplaces, and oil paintings from the collection of hotel owner (and millionaire philanthropist) Andrew Brownsword. The intimate country vibe and the location to the north of town are part of the appeal for many (and for some, give this hotel the edge over others), but those seeking a more central location will prefer the Gainsborough. The spa here, though lovely, is not quite as impressive as the ones at the Royal Crescent or Gainsborough.


MacDonald Bath Spa Hotel

Bath, Somerset, England, United Kingdom

Perfectly manicured hedges, sculptures, fountains -- even croquet -- are waiting to be discovered within the confines of this regal estate, whose past functions include private home, boarding school, wartime hospital, and frequent getaway for Winston Churchill. All 129 rooms are decorated with accents like crushed velvet chairs, heavy drapes, and dark wood furnishings. Modern amenities are also present, including free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, stocked minibars, and Nespresso coffeemakers. Posh robes and Molton Brown toiletries are nice touches. A full-service spa with a steam room, sauna, whirlpool, and fully equipped health club; two swimming pools; and immaculate gardens give visitors lots of opportunity for activity or relaxation. There are plenty of common spaces to roam as well, including a posh patio, an upscale dining area, and several studies with richly textured seating, original oil paintings, classic novels, and antiques. The grand historic nature of the architecture stands out, but the room decor feels generic for a property that otherwise has so much character, and the location outside of town will be a downside for some.


Apsley House Hotel

Bath, Somerset, England, United Kingdom

The one-time country home of the Duke of Wellington, this exquisite bed-and-breakfast is all about rural luxury. Each of the 12 rooms is individually decorated; however, all are cozy and romantic with details like marble bathrooms and antique combs and mirrors, as well as modern-day amenities like flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and luxe toiletries. Some rooms have direct access to Apsley's beautiful garden grounds. Direct garden access from select rooms complete the picture of this beautiful English countryside escape. This English countryside escape is so charming and classy, it deserves a spot on our list of Bath's most luxurious hotels -- despite the fact that it lacks some of the features expected of the designation: a restaurant, pool, and spa. Those who don't mind not having these facilities will find this an excellent, slightly more affordable alternative to the Bath Priory.