The West Country is always a lovely choice for a country escape. Gorgeous landscape, chocolate box towns, and outstanding local produce have always kept the visitors coming. Be they foodies, ramblers, or just those seeking a slower pace.
So, as the country starts to wake from its lockdown slumber, there’s no doubt sleepy Somerset will be a location on many a ‘to visit’ list.
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New boutique bolthole Number One Bruton, a small hotel and farm-to-table restaurant, provides rural charm with a superb pedigree in both its cooking and décor.
And though its doors have been shut for three months, plans are in place to reopen on the last weekend of July.
Owners Claudia Waddams and Aled Rees have worked tirelessly to restore the original medieval house and its Georgian and Victorian additions.
The results are a hodgepodge wedge-shaped warren of connected forges, cottages, and grander attachments. Every nook and cranny has been lovingly restored or its worn beauty saved and left to shine.
Interiors are an assemblage of all the finest classics of English country house taste. Howard-style sofas in petrol blue wool sit atop faded antique Persian carpets.
There are Suzani wall hangings, blue and white ware, and a colour scheme that ranges from pea green to palest ivory.
Local artists, craftsmen and designers have widely contributed, from Don McCullin photographic art to leather accessories by Bill Amberg, with as much of Somerset as possible being brought into the space.
Perhaps most remarkable of all is the small, enclosed courtyard garden and its sitting arbor. It’s a veritable work of art overseen by 90-year-old gardening royalty, Penelope Hobhouse.
Over in the kitchens chef Merlin Labron-Johnson, formerly of London’s Michelin starred Portland, is cooking up a storm with the county’s bounty of fruit, meat, and vegetables for the hotel’s restaurant Osip.
The team work with a group of Somerset farmers, growers, hunters and foragers to create menus that reflect principles of sustainability and seasonality. Expect to find smoked cheddar puffs, wild duck in honey, and chestnut pumpkin soup.
If you can tear yourself away from the hotel’s gourmet gastronomy and comfortable surrounds, Bruton has a world of culture and recreation on its doorstep. Choose from art galleries and independent boutiques to cider farms and hiking trails.
You might just find your relaxing weekend ends up action packed…