Somerset is part-quaint, part rock ‘n roll and fully beautiful. We love these local businesses in this spectacular south-western county.

Somerset is a county of two halves. On one hand, it feels suitably old-fashioned, replete with quintessentially English cider orchards, cosy country pubs and the Georgian heritage architecture associated with the spa city of Bath. On the other hand, it is decidedly rock ‘n roll. Famous as the home of both Glastonbury and Babington House, the cool London set’s rural outpost, the county – only two and a half hours from the capital – attracts arty, media types for weekends in the country. Many never leave. One look at the abundant rolling hills – it is home to the Mendips, the Quantocks, Exmoor National Park and the Somerset Levels – and it’s clear why. That it is awash with wonderful independent businesses makes it all the more magical. Read our guide to the top places to eat, shop and stay and you’ll soon see why.

Food and Drink



Lord Poulett Arms




Tucked away in the picture-perfect Somerset village of Hinton St George, the Lord Poulett Arms is an inn with rooms. Its loyal local clientele, as well as in-the-know visitors, come for its Sunday roasts and proper gastropub puds. Established in 1680, the thatched pub is complete with hops-adorned beams, real local ales and a stylish modern country interior with lashings of Farrow and Ball tones and characterful furniture. There is a beautiful, manicured walled garden to the rear, complete with Petanque piste for wiling away summer evenings. Meanwhile, upstairs there are six characterful rooms to hole yourself up in if you can’t bear to leave. Book it here.

At The Chapel at Bruton




If you visit Hauser and Wirth’s Somerset gallery outpost in Bruton, why not make a day of it and book in to At The Chapel for lunch? The restaurant has its own artisan bakery, wine store and eight bedrooms, all housed within a beautiful 17th-century building that features, somewhat spectacularly, an 18th-century congregational chapel and a stunning, south-facing outdoor terrace. The wood-fired pizzas are crowd-pleasers with the kids, while the great and the good of the Somerset Crowd make it their destination for weekday breakfasts. Expect an eclectic vibe and excellent service. Book it here.

Clayton’s Kitchen




Originally from Cleethorpes, Richard Clayton has made Bath his culinary home, first at the Bath Priory and, since 2012, as chef-patron at Clayton’s Kitchen. Its focus on modern French and Mediterranean cuisine means that the menu is refreshingly uncluttered and reliably delicious. There’s also a thoughtful vegan menu, plus an enlivening cocktail menu to whet your whistle. Book it here.

Teals Farm Shop




Launched by Ash and Nick Sinfield, Teals Farm Shop in South Cadbury, nestled in a 100-year old cider orchard, focuses on small-batch, family-run brands and producers in their food market. Expect locally grown veg, small farm reared meats, fresh artisan breads and deli delights. Stay for a bite in the outdoor courtyard; with light, modern dishes, it showcases the best the local area has to offer hungry foodies. Book it here.

28 Market Place




Championing the best of the West Country on its modern British menu, many of 28 Market Place’s suppliers are within just two miles of its Grade II* listed building in the heart of Somerton. The restaurant draws a foodie crowd from miles around but it’s the bakery that has made a name for itself amongst locals. A word of warning: its pre-order doughnuts sell out on repeat – which is perhaps why they’re opening a new outpost in Ilminster soon. Book it here.

Hotels



The Newt




Six years in the making, The Newt is a country estate, but not as you know it. The gardens, woodland and cider orchards are well worth a visit in themselves, simply as a lesson in how to pull off modern estate management and a contemporary vision of original Victorian gardens. Get lost amongst the ancient oaks, or marvel at the walled parabola garden which houses every specimen of apple tree grown in the UK. The produce garden grows 350 species to stock the estate farm shop and restaurant, which is run by Ben Champkin. If you’re lucky enough to book in for the night, enjoy the cossetting luxury of the burnt honey coloured Georgian pile, or why not try the characterful Farmyard and stable block accommodation, which has been brought sympathetically up to date with a playful interior? Designed for fun and relaxation – and we all need a bit of that, don’t we? Book it here.

Pig Near Bath




This gorgeous hotel is the perfect halfway house between country and city. Just forty minutes from the centre of Bath or Bristol, the house itself is nestled in a deer park in the heart of the Mendip Hills. As with all the Pig estates, food is at the centre of the offering, with a ’25-mile’ menu, much of which is harvested from the kitchen garden, fruit cages and wild flower orchard. The interior has the Pig signature quirky charm and the ‘Potting Shed’ spa treatments are a great way to unwind after a day shopping. Book it here.

The Gainsborough




With all the Bridgerton vibes you could wish for, The Gainsborough Bath Spa is spread between two Georgian piles, right at the heart of the UNESCO heritage site. It features not just a spa, but a spa village, complete with colonnaded swimming pool, thermal baths and ice experience. Book it here.

Artist Residence Bristol




If you’re into the hottest new openings, how’s this for you? This one hasn’t even launched yet; the latest Artist Residence is due to fling open its doors in Bristol this year. Housed in an old Boot Factory in the heart of the city, there will be 23 bedrooms, a coffee shop, a bar, kitchen, event space and garden – it’s set to be the opening to watch this year. Book it here.

Locanda on the Weir




If you’re craving the wild side of Somerset, Locanda on the Weir is set in the heart of Exmoor National Park, in front of the 15th-century harbour at Porlock Weir. The perfect mix of coast and moor, the cosy characterful inn is ideal for holing yourself up for the weekend to enjoy the seasonal Italian menu and rugged coastline. Book it here.

Shopping



Frome




St Catherine’s Hill in Frome is a cobbled dream, full of indie shops, from design-led homewares at Resident, to eclectic womenswear at Boho, quirky, thoughtful gifts for all ages at Honey on the Hill and modern floristry at Bramble & Wild. Don’t neglect to visit The Rye Bakery, a perfect pit stop as a reward just off the top of the hill. In a converted church, it offers incredible baked goods and relaxed communal, family lunches.

Kilver Court




Kilver Court Designer Village in Shepton Mallet offers a raft of designer brands such as Margaret Howell, Paul Smith, Toast and Caramel Baby & Child, all at tempting discounts. All these sit alongside the original Mulberry factory store, which is great for savings on the heritage Somerset leather brand. Once you’ve got your retail hit, do visit Kilver Court’s gardens, which are still owned by Mulberry founder, Roger Saul. They feature formal and informal settings, all overlooked by the 27-arch Charlton Viaduct. There’s a kitchen garden restaurant too, featuring Roger’s other passion: spelt, from Sharpham, his organic arable farm in the Somerset levels. A great mix of wholesome Somerset heritage with a side dish of fashion. Visit the website here.

Clarks Village




If you are looking for a bumper shopping day out, Clarks Village has ninety outlet brands – including Fat Face, Hobbs, Mint Velvet, Le Creuset, North Face and Gap. There are plenty of family-friendly eateries within the village and an adventure play park too for a full day out. Visit the website here.

Southgate in Bath




Merging Bath’s Georgian architectural style with a modern retail experience, Southgate in Bath is home to fifty shops, twenty-two restaurants, bars and cafes and a boutique cinema. The perfect pedestrian area to wander, to enjoy al fresco dining, or to take in the boutiques and big name brands for some longed-for retail therapy. Visit the website here.

Alice Temperley




Alice Temperley’s new Somerset HQ stretches over 22,000sqft of Victorian property in the main square of the market town of Ilminster. Housing the brand’s design atelier, there is a retail space offering both current collections and archive pieces and even a bar to celebrate your new purchases, serving cocktails and cider from Alice’s parents’ Somerset cider farm.

Cabbages & Roses




Bruton abounds with lovely independent shops. Our favourite, however, is the new HQ of Cabbages & Roses, which recently decamped from its Chelsea home. Truly beautiful, if you come for frocks, you’re bound to leave coveting the fabrics and wallpaper too. That’s if you can bring yourself to leave. Visit the website here.

By Lydia Mansi
June 2021

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Lydia Mansi

Lifestyle Editor

Lydia is an all-round lifestyle guru, tireless champion of women in business and our resident expert on beauty.

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