This summer is the perfect time to book a staycation to Somerset. While some of us may be holding on to hopes of going abroad, booking a trip out of Blighty isn’t for certain. What is for sure, though, is that Somerset is on your doorstep and is one of the most gorgeous areas of the UK, brimming with lush countryside, foodie hotspots and, quite possibly, some glorious weather.
Sitting in the south west of England, Somerset is a county which spans some of the country’s loveliest cities. For example, there’s Bristol which is known for its artsy scene, being the home of Banksy and an abundance of brunch spots.
Or, you could spend a few days in Bath which is famous for its ornate buildings which are all built in the same golden-hued stone. In fact, its architectural beauty has even been compared to Paris.
For nature lovers, though, there’s nothing like setting off into the countryside and visiting charming small towns like Frome or Bruton.
So, if all this is enough to tempt you into planning a trip to charismatic Somerset, check out our guide for recommendations on the very best places to stay and eat while you’re there.
Best restaurants in Somerset
At The Chapel, Bruton
Bruton is a small but delightful town which sits in the lush Somerset countryside. While this place isn’t very big, it is home to a few culinary gems, one of which is At The Chapel.
At The Chapel is a beautiful Grade II Listed former congregational chapel which has been transformed into a contemporary restaurant and rooms, while proudly showing off all of its original features. The rooms are said to be gorgeous; think full height church windows by your bed. Now, that’s what we call good natural light.
Throughout the day this space is a casual eatery and bakery, using local produce and fresh ingredients to create a Mediterranean-inspired take on quality British food.
In the evenings, the dining area becomes more dramatic and feels a little like eating in a moodily-lit exhibition space. Menu highlights include Heywood Farm lemon and thyme chicken with aioli, courgetti and basil pesto and sourdough pizzas from the wood-fired oven.
Roth Bar & Grill
Roth Bar & Grill’s USP starts with its location, positioned in the middle of a working farm on the outskirts of Bruton. This wholesome image is reflected in the ethos of the restaurant’s owners who have designed it to be an informal space for socialising, dining and drinking with a menu filled with honest, home-grown food.
The dining areas are split into two spaces; one inside the exposed brick, converted-cowshed restaurant and one in the courtyard next to it, which is covered with a marquee roof for wet weather. Here, diners can enjoy an atmosphere created with candlelight and seasonal decorations, such as pumpkins, flowers and trees.
The menu is the star of the show, though, and a real treat for meat-eaters. It changes daily thanks to its sustainable nature, focusing on serving up seasonal produce which is actually grown on Durslade Farm and in the farm’s Walled Garden. All other ingredients are sourced from ethical, local producers to echo the restaurant’s commitment to working with British growers.
Examples of what you might expect include beef and lamb from the farm, baked aubergine, roasted hake and Somerset cheeses.
The Lord Poulett Arms, Hinton Saint George
Snuggled in the picturesque village of Hinton Saint George (where all the houses look like Rose Cottage from The Holiday), Lord Poulett Arms is a traditional, thatched-roof pub and rooms with some of the best food, service and atmosphere in Somerset.
While this pub’s restaurant feels homely, it’s also stylish with rich blue walls, vintage furniture and seasonal installations from a local florist. In the evening, the dining room is lit by candlelight which feels sympathetic to the history of the building and makes dining here feel even more magical.
The staff are friendly, knowledgable and committed; they’re on hand to help you pick out the best of the menu and recommend some great wines to go with your meal, too.
The menu favours meat and game from local farms, fish caught on the south coast and vegetables grown in the Lord Poulett Kitchen Garden. One absolute must-try dish is the melt-in-your-mouth skillet chocolate chip cookie, which is pure perfection.
Best hotels in Somerset
Number One Bruton, Bruton
This Georgian townhouse is a treat of a hotel. The venue’s personality is evident as soon as you step through the door, thanks to décor touches such as a botanical, hand-painted stairwell and colourful furnishings.
Number One Bruton boasts three types of accommodation. The main house has five rooms available to book. Each one is different but follows a similar theme of vintage furniture, whimsical wallpaper choices, unique artwork and beautiful bathrooms. We particularly liked that the welcome pack includes cheese, crackers and cider from the local area, as well as a botanical face mask so that you can pamper yourself during your stay.
There’s also three cottages in the courtyard which sits at the back of the house. These properties have lots of lovely features like exposed beams and quarry-tiled floors, and are decorated with cosy, soft furnishings. Finally, there’s The Forge which is a 12th century building with original stone walls and crittal windows. It is decorated with bursts of colour, layered textures and patterns alongside boutique furniture. Here, you’ll find another four rooms which give a different, but equally as wonderful, experience of Number One Bruton.
The in-house restaurant Osip is also worth your time. It’s full of organic details like hanging bundles of dried fruit and flowers and unfinished, ecru tiled walls, which make for a stylishly wholesome place to enjoy your farmhouse breakfast (which is included in the price of your stay).
Bistro Lotte, Frome
Frome is an enchanting little place. Its main draw lies in a cobbled street which creeps down a hill in the centre of town and is lined with small boutiques and independent stores. At the tip of this idyllic scene, you’ll find Bistro Lotte.
It is, in our opinion, the best place to dine in Frome. This rustic eatery serves up local produce with a French twist, such as moule frites, crepes and escargot.
It is also home to eight stylish bedrooms which have a calm, homely aesthetic. Think pastel headboards and soft furnishings, vintage wooden furniture and zero clutter for a serene feel.
One of the big up sides to staying here is also the hearty breakfast which includes soft, buttery pastries and a continental-style platter of eggs, cheese and ham.
The Orchard is a family-run, rural compound of unique, woodland dwellings. The Dabinett Treehouse was the site’s first venture, and is soon to be joined by a glamping pod and cabin, which all sit in the extensive garden of the family’s home.
Access to the treehouse is easy; guests receive a link to a digital guide which explains how to check yourself in, where to find your torch and wheelbarrow and then off you go – no host necessary.
As you climb the treehouse’s stairs you’ll see a ginormous outdoor bath which, with festoon lights twinkling in the branches above and views out for miles, is every bit as romantic as you’d hope. Inside doesn’t disappoint either. The bathroom has cosy underfloor heating, a rainforest shower, organic toiletries and a large, stone sink which looks both earthy and chic.
It’s clear that a lot of thought has also gone into making guests feel as comfortable as possible during their stay. For example, local cheddar and cider is waiting for you in a welcome basket, there’s a swish Nespresso machine and a log burner with a supply of pre-chopped wood. This all makes looking up at the stars from your private balcony all the sweeter.
The Talbot Inn, Mells
If you’re booking a staycation to the country to get some peace and quiet, The Talbot Inn has exactly the right balance of luxury and homeliness.
Surrounded by little else than twee cottages, historic churches and beautiful scenery, this pub and rooms feels a million miles away from everything. Indeed, with a mix of 15th century architecture, roll top baths and huge beds, disappearing here is a grounding, calming experience that you’ll never forget.
Enjoy a drink in the cobbled courtyard, trundle around the small streets on the pub’s periphery, have a soak, feast on a home-cooked breakfast; The Talbot Inn fuses comfort and style in a way that feels truly special.
The Abbey Hotel, Bath
When it comes to location, the Abbey Hotel is unbeaten. Slap bang in the centre of Bath, its sash windows look out over the perfectly pruned Parade Gardens and River Avon beyond, with the historic Pulteney Bridge (one of only four bridges in the world to have shops across it) just out of sight. Occupying part of a stately Georgian terrace that has been split into 62 good-sized rooms, the Abbey has the train station, Roman Baths and Thermae Bath Spa on its doorstep.
Inside, nods to the city’s creative lifeblood are everywhere. The slick Artbar is as good a spot as any for a well-crafted negroni, and the array of artwork adorning every surface is all available to buy – the exception being the sculpture above the bar itself: an impressive spray of glasses and bottles suspended from the ceiling like a chandelier.
The artistic thread runs throughout the Abbey (its former owners were collectors): old film reels are used to decorative effect in the Cinematography Suites, while contemporary takes on Georgian portraiture hang above king-size beds in the Gallery Rooms. Its restaurant is relaxed and fuss-free with original wooden floorboards and buttery soft banquettes, and serves up the kind of hearty British fare you crave after a day of pounding Bath’s historic pavements.
As soon as you step out of the hotel into the cobbled square below, you’re 100 metres from Bath Abbey (worth a visit for a glimpse of its awe-inspiring vaulted ceiling alone) as well as the birthplace of the city’s most famous baked goods: Sally Lunn’s Eating House, a quaint little tearoom dating all the way back to 1680 that serves up pillowy Bath buns.
Though Homewood is just 10 minutes from the bustling centre of Bath, here you’ll wake up to chirping birds and views of its lush 10-acre parkland. Homewood Park itself has all the grand homeliness of a country manor, with log fires and big squashy armchairs inviting you to linger in its drawing room for as long as you please.
Each room is individually designed with low-key luxury at its heart, but it is the newly revamped Mallingford Mews in the building next door that you’ll never want to leave. Think roll-top baths, shelves stacked with old books and quirky, characterful objects in every room, from antique telescopes to wooden Japanese Kokeshi dolls. Garden rooms have private balconies with hot tubs, and all guests can help themselves to the shared pantry stocked with all manner of treats, from shortbread and fudge to popcorn and jelly beans.
One thing that may tempt you out of your room, though, is Homewood’s spa, a jewel in its crown which boasts a heated outdoor pool, indoor hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room, plus an extensive list of treatments, facials and massages. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, The Tides restaurant onsite serves fabulous local fare, including the most decadent breakfasts complete with fresh pastries, smoothies, homemade granola and fruit – and that’s just the first course. This is a place to live the good life.
Images: Number One Bruton / courtesy of venues