21 Wednesday December, 2016
By Rosie Fletcher, UK & Ireland Specialist
It was a cold and blustery evening in London when Ellie and I set off for a couple of nights of research in Somerset and Devon. Thankfully our car was cosy and we had some great tracks for the road – plus, we knew the log fires of The Bath Priory were waiting for us.
When we arrived, we couldn’t get down to the restaurant quick enough and were pleased to see that the dining room was full to the brim, with a relaxed buzz from happy diners. After a refined and sophisticated meal, we nestled down into our beds and woke the next morning to see the affectionately tended and award-winning gardens of the Priory looking lovely - even as winter approached.
The ‘news on the block’ at the hotel however, is all about the new L’Occitane Spa. The new spa has four treatment rooms, all dedicated to a particular scent and colour that each aim to echo the tastes of Provence. We could just imagine strolling leisurely down from our room in white fluffy robes to get our nails done, and pamper ourselves with the signature Verbena Relaxing Massage… However, on this trip time was not our friend so in the midst of Storm Angus we headed to our next stop – Babington House.
Further outside of Bath city, Babington House oozes exclusivity and ‘shabby chic’ in a home-from-home style. There is an Orangery and a Deli Bar, a Cricket Pitch and Walled Garden, and the Chapel in the grounds is small but perfectly formed. I could really visualize cosying down in the library on a winter’s day, or sprawling lazily on the lawns in the summer. The rooms are classically English with teal velvet sofas and exposed brick walls. The Cowshed Spa is quintessential Soho House with the option to indulge in a Mud Soak, Body Wrap or Salt Scrub.
‘A Tranquil Moorland Manor, Our Heaven in Devon’ is an apt tagline for our final hotel. Gidleigh Park would be the highlight of anyone’s holiday. The hotel expertly manages to balance being luxurious but not over the top, relaxed yet special, tranquil but romantic. The fact that you must wend your way up a narrow lane only builds anticipation, and so when the majestic Tudor manor appears you know you have reached something special. Famed for its exquisite food, Ellie and I were able to sample the 7-course tasting menu ourselves, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that it did not disappoint. Whilst it was the renowned Michael Caines who brought Gidleigh’s food to the forefront of the British restaurant scene over a period of 20 plus years, Michael Wignall took over 11 months ago, and has smoothly navigated the transition maintaining two-Michelin level standards.
After a wakeup call of tea and shortbread we had to drag ourselves away to begin our road trip home… Only two nights long, but we came away feeling confident about recommending these three properties to anyone who asks.
Fancy luxury in the heart of a UNESCO city? The Bath Priory.
Need laid-back pampering with views over rolling fields? Babington House.
Feel like a caramel and praline parfait after a Dartmoor exploration? Gidleigh Park.
Something to suit everyone!
If you would like more information or want to start planning your own tailor-made holiday to the British Isles, please do get in touch:
+44 (0)207 819 9770 / firstname.lastname@example.org