Francis Hotel Bath - MGallery by Sofitel

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Discover Francis Hotel Bath - MGallery by Sofitel, which is located in a historic Georgian townhouse in Bath’s famous Queen Square.

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Francis Hotel Bath - MGallery by Sofitel, member of Historic Hotels of America since 2018, dates back to 1736.

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A member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2018, the Francis Hotel Bath - MGallery by Sofitel is one of the most elite holiday destinations operated by AccorHotels. This spectacular historic retreat is specifically located inside a Georgian townhouse in the center of downtown Bath. Architect John Wood the Elder, a Bath native, made it his mission to restore the town to what he believed was its ancient glory. Once one of the most important and significant cities in England, Wood felt that Bath was not given proper recognition. As a solution, Wood created a distinct vision for Bath, with Queen Square as a key component. Queen Square, comprised of Georgian townhomes built between 1728 and 1736, is one of the most important architectural sequences in the city. This magnificent square was built according to the rules of Palladian architecture to resemble a palace, complete with wings and a forecourt. The square was named to honor Queen Caroline, wife of George II, and quickly became a popular place to live among Bath’s elite society. Despite being built outside the city walls, the Square is just a short walk to the Abbey, Pump Room, Assembly Rooms, and baths. After his masterpiece of Queen Square was complete, architect John Wood lived in townhome No. 9 until his death in 1754.

By 1858, though, most of the townhomes on the south side of Queen Square remained individual dwellings, although one resident, Soloman Francis, opened a boarding house in townhome No. 10. After his death in the 1870s, his widow, Emily, began to purchase the surrounding properties. She expanded the boarding house to include houses Nos. 6-9 and 11, and by 1884, she had combined the seven houses to open the Francis Private Hotel. Unfortunately, during the “Bath Blitz” of World War II, the structure suffered significant damage at the hands of the German Luftwaffe. However, the hotel was rebuilt by builder J. Hopwood in 1953, who seamlessly blended the seven townhouses into one building yet again. An $8 million-dollar renovation in 2012 gave the Francis Hotel its current unique vivaciousness and revitalized its quirks from the Regency period. During the renovation, the corridors of the hotel were split by doors, with each subdivision marking the boundaries between the different homes. Architects also installed distinct wallpaper in historically appropriate colors and patterns. All of the buildings that make up the hotel are currently designated by English Heritage as “Buildings of Exceptional & Historical Interest.”

  • About the Location +

    The city of Bath has long been associated as a prominent vacation retreat, with some of the first known holiday destinations opening millennia ago. Much of the popularity involving the location has been inspired by its amazing mineral springs, which have attracted scores of people for generations. According to local legends, the springs of Bath were originally discovered by an ancient Briton nobleman named Bladud during the 9th century BC. The story posits that the young price had stumbled onto the area and its wonderful mineral springs after watching a herd of pigs bathe in one of the tributaries nearby. Affected by leprosy, Bladud made a complete recovery as soon as he stepped inside the warm water himself. But while archeological evidence has suggested that people had lived in the region since the Mesolithic period, the founding mythos surrounding Bath has nonetheless galvanized people to try the springs for themselves. The Romans were among the first people, though, to truly construct a resort community around the springs. Shortly after Aulus Plautius’ invasion of the British Isles in the 1st century BC, a group of Romans located the Bath mineral springs. Upon their arrival, they noticed the Britons had raised a quaint shrine to their god, Sulis. The Romans subsequently constructed their own temple and dedicated it to their own goddess Minerva, assuming Sulis was Minerva in another form. But the Romans preserved Sulis’ name, however, using it to create the title of the new market community that gradually sprang up around the springs—Aquae Sulis, or “Waters of Sulis.”

    Aquae Sulis became a prosperous settlement within Roman Britain, with the mineral springs serving as its main attraction. Engineers gradually developed a brilliant bathing complex over the span of three centuries, encasing the water within an irregular stone chamber lined with lead. By the 2nd century AD, the Romans had also placed a gorgeous barrel-vaulted structure above the springs and installed additional bathing rooms that offered exclusive temperatures. The Romans had even erected a ring of imposing defenses around the baths to ensure their continued protection. But when the western half of the Roman Empire collapsed in the 5th century, the baths were largely abandoned. Nevertheless, the surrounding community remained active, enduring for years under the reign of numerous English kings as the town of “Bath.” The settlement had grown so much that it even achieved the status of a “city” at the height of the Middle Ages. Numerous historical sites of great repute made their debut at the time, too, including the great Bath Abbey and its iconic Gothic architecture. The city saw considerable military action during the English Civil War, in which several thousand soldiers garrisoned the locale on behalf of King Charles I. When the Parliamentarians seized the community shortly thereafter, it became the site of the Battle of Lansdowne between the “New Model Army” and the king’s loyalists. A victory for King Charles I, Bath subsequently remained under royalist control until his execution in 1642.

    In the wake of the conflict, a student of Wadham College named Thomas Guidott set up a practice in Bath. Interested in the potential curative properties the springs supposedly contained, he authored a popular treatise that reignited interest with the site. Soon enough, countless people from all over Great Britain were once again visiting Bath to experience what remained of the historic Roman bath complex. As such, Bath underwent a prolonged swell in population, as well as a subsequent construction boom that lasted well into the 18th century. Most of the building projects were overseen by architects John Wood the Elder and his son, John Wood the Younger, who both laid out dozens of new streets and squares. Adherents of Neoclassical architecture, the two men transformed the city’s appearance by uniformly building a series of classically-themed structures. Perhaps their greatest work was the Royal Crescent, a sweeping row of 30 terraced houses that John Wood the Younger had designed himself. Interest in the ancient mineral springs had also led to the eventual development of a completely new bathing facility called the “Grand Pump Room,” which rested upon the site of the earlier Roman baths. Designed by architects Thomas Baldwin and John Palmer in the 1790s, the structure soon became a fixture in the local community for years thereafter. Today, much of Bath is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to its rich connections to the Roman Empire. In fact, scholars cite the ancient baths as being among some of the best preserved Roman structures in the entire world.


  • About the Architecture +

    Dating back centuries, the façade of the Francis Hotel Bath features some of the finest Georgian-style architecture in all of the United Kingdom. Georgian architecture itself is among the most predominant in the British Isles, defining the features for all kinds of buildings ranging from grand municipal structures to quaint country manors. Its name is a reference to its origins, having first appeared during the reign of King George I in the early 1700s. The form would remain popular in Great Britain for the next several decades, before petering out around the death of his distant relative, George IV. But while the form’s moniker refers to Hanoverian monarchs, they actually had little to do with its spread. Instead, the work of great English architects Inigo Jones, James Gibbs, and Christopher Wren significantly established what would become known as the “Georgian” style. Inspired by the Roman architectural elements of antiquity, professionals like Jones, Gibbs, and Wren began to integrate it into their own blueprints.

    Most of those early architects specifically embraced the great Andrea Palladio’s earlier interpretations of Classical architecture, which first manifested at the height of the Italian Renaissance. As such, the first iteration of Georgian-style architecture was known as “Palladianism,” which encouraged proportion and symmetry based on exact mathematical ratios. Palladianism also embraced Palladio’s strict use of Roman-era stylistic themes. But architects across the United Kingdom began to loosen their observance of Palladio’s treatises as the 18th century progressed. Those artisans began to look more directly at the ancient buildings they sought to emulate, giving rise to the more ubiquitous Classic Revival (or “Neoclassical”) architectural style. Their new structures featured additional motifs from ancient Grecian societies, as well as a few from the likes of medieval Europe. Nevertheless, the style remained immensely popular, even spreading across the Atlantic to greatly influence the British Empire’s American and Canadian colonies. In fact, the Americans formed their own unique spinoff of Georgian architecture in the wake of the American Revolutionary War, which they called “Federal” or “Adams” style.


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