Hotels director Simon Wells said the well-known 16-bedroom B&B hotel had attracted considerable interest and triggered brisk bidding.

The five-star property has been sold to an Italian investor who already owns one hotel in the city. Previous owners Ling and Simon Roper bought the hotel in 2000  and launched an immediate refurbishment programme.

Mrs Roper has now bought the nearby Apple Tree B&B, which she is planning to launch in time for the Easter break.

She said: “There was quite a lot of interest in the Ayrlington and the market is clearly picking up largely thanks to a good mix of UK and international visitors.”

Mrs Roper said improved flight availability to and from Bristol Airport had also contributed to the   recovery within the West tourism sector – with a marked increase in visitors from Germany.

Colliers International Hotels director Simon Wells said last year’s improved summer weather had signalled a significant upturn in business for the popular city centre hotel.

“The Ayrlington overlooks the Rec and Bath Abbey and makes the ideal base for tourists keen to explore the Georgian city.

“With occupancy hitting 98.2 per cent   it is clear visitors are returning to Bath in droves.

“In addition to the very welcome turnover of £505,710 net of VAT the Ayrlington Includes a superb three bedroom flat for the owners.”

Built in the early 1860s, the  listed  property sits in a good size plot and, unusually for the centre of Bath, has car parking for guests. The most striking feature of the flat is the superb kitchen/diner which opens straight through into the Orangery. The 16 letting bedrooms will sleep 32 (15 doubles, one twin and of those. Two of the bedrooms have four poster beds and three have additional single beds.