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TEN WEST COUNTRY HOTELS OF CHARACTER

Adrian Mourby

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For me, the West Country begins in Bath and extends down to Bristol and into Somerset. It's an area of beautiful cities and gentle countryside framed by the M4 to the north and the M5 to the west. As soon as you leave either, you're into a gentler way of life, a landscape where every hotel was formerly a coaching inn or rectory. But then when you get to Bath itself, there are some fascinating conversions of town houses and, in Bristol, a former sugar refinery. Meanwhile in Taunton, the Castle Hotel really used to be a castle... These are hotels of great character.
Hotel du Vin - Bristol

A lot of Bristol merchants made their fortunes refining sugar from the Caribbean in the eighteenth century. The new Hotel du Vin in Narrow Lewins Mead was one of Bristol's 20 sugar factories. Today it's a great bistro in the classic HDV style of distressed brickwork and eclectic furniture. Resident chef, Marcus Lang is held in high local esteem. There's also a comfortable library and 40 bedrooms, including several loft suite duplexes.

The Mount Somerset Hotel & Spa

The Mount is a gorgeous Italianate house built between 1805 and 1815 for John Proctor Anderson and his uncle. Proctor Anderson was one of Wellington's officers at the Battle of Waterloo and he subsequently retired here to enjoy hunting and shooting in the Quantock and Blackdown Hills. These days hotel guests can enjoy that same sense of getting away from it all at The Mount.

The Bath Priory

This gracious house was built in 1835 on land between Bath and the village of Weston where defeated Parliamentarians had hidden after the Battle of Lansdowne in 1643. Today the Priory retains the feel of a comfortable nineteenth century home with the addition of a Michelin-starred restaurant, excellent wine cellar that has some lovely Sicilian wines and an award-winning garden spa.

The Queensberry Hotel

The Queensbury is located in a fine, steep terrace of Bath stone houses just above the Assembly Rooms. Some of the 29 bedrooms retain their original eighteenth-century cornices and the views over Bath from the back rooms are splendid. For many the Queenbury is best known for its Olive Tree Restaurant where chef Nick Brodie is famed for his Asian fusion menu.

Homewood

An abbot's house stood here, south of Bath, back in the thirteenth century but the current building is Georgian with some Victorian additions by the Davies family. Twenty-five years ago Homewood was turned into a hotel but its dramatic new spa is distinctly twenty-first century. The hotel's restaurant is one of Bath's best out of town places to dine and the garden has frequently won the ‘Bath in Bloom' competition.

The Castle at Taunton

The Castle Hotel is 300 years old but it was originally part of the inner ward of Taunton Castle, a building that dates back to the twelfth century. That castle has seen a lot of history, including civil wars in the twelfth and seventeeth centuries. Today however under its owners, the Chapman family, it is best-known for its brasserie, Brazz which features great food, a starlit dome and a cobalt blue fish tank.

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