It’s only a mile from the city centre – and a very pretty walk at that – but the redoubtable Bath Priory is the epitome of cosseting country-house comfort.
Walls clad with ivy and buddleia look the ye old part from the word go and while the interiors could in no way be described as contemporary, the neutral colour palate in the formally dressed dining room (think thick curtains and carpets, and well-spaced tables properly laid with white napery) stop things from feeling stuffy.
Outside, meanwhile, a suntrap terrace, with classy canvas parasols to keep the heat off, has a view over the garden’s colourful borders of flowers framing velvety striped lawns: just the place for a languid G&T and a leisurely read of the papers in summer.
With a kitchen brigade headed up by Michael Nizzero (The Waterside Inn, The Ritz Restaurant et al), diners can also look forward to high-end cuisine and a repertoire of classically inclined seasonal dishes.
Sourcing and timing are admirable – witness starters of native lobster with tomato, basil and parmesan, or smoked beef tartare dolloped with a garden nasturtium mayonnaise and caviar.
Meat and game loom large among the mains (think venison loin with wild mushrooms, amandine potato and cranberries, or roasted grouse with celeriac, bacon and blackberries) but there’s also line-caught sea bass with fennel puree, or halibut with cauliflower and sea vegetables.
Desserts such as blackcurrant souffle with ivoire chocolate, salted caramel fondant banana and mango and coriander mousse with coconut and lime sorbet are also beautifully executed. Vegans and vegetarians, meanwhile, both get their own a la carte and tasting menus.
Service is suitably “smart”, and a “great sommelier” is on hand to guide oenophiles through the exhaustive wine list. Lighter bites, drinks and afternoon tea are also available in the all-day Pantry.