“An ivy-clad inn on the Longleat Estate, with a characterful restaurant and very fetching rooms”
Bedrooms are refreshingly, charmingly original, most of them above the bar (but peacefully away from the throng). We were treated to Peacock, which flourishes a colonial four-poster bed and a gleaming roll-top tub. Flashman is up in the attic - all Indian antiques and custom-made collages; English Eccentric is based on Lord Bath. Off a tiny top landing, in lovely creams, is Bird in the Hand, with a roomy bathroom and a pretty rococo bed. For a room with a special view, go for Karma Sutra, gorgeous, cosy and coloured terracotta. The rooms under the eaves are low-ceilinged but surprisingly spacious. All these rooms - a mixture of Chic and Luxury rooms (which are larger) - are worth the extra, in our view.
The Classic rooms are much smaller, but still good. Humming Bird has a French antique bed in dove grey, lush curtains and decorative wallpaper. Note that Geisha's double bed is against the wall.
Bathrooms have character in tubfuls; white roll-tops and Indian prints abound; standard bathrooms are on the small side; most tubs have showers above, some have hand-held shower attachments.
In a converted outbuilding off the courtyard are 5 ground-floor rooms, which open onto a lawn. When we revisited in 2012 we stayed in Garden Room (a Chic twin), which was a bit utilitarian in terms of decor, but we really appreciated the private, cottage-y feel of the building. We slept well (although walls are thin, so we heard our neighbour's TV until midnight), and bathing was a pleasure. We were really impressed with all the little extras, too: bottled water, orange marmalade biscuits, Teapig teas, aromatic fig toiletries and a small bottle of elderflower vodka with 2 shot glasses (delicious).
This Garden wing is particularly popular with families and some rooms interconnect. Twin and Raja are both super stylish with high rafters, oatmeal carpets and thick curtains; Raja has antique Indian doors to its bathroom. Wet Room has a carved Indian headboard (fabulous) and a slate-clad shower - one of very few without a tub. Tamworth, white with splashes of red, is set up for wheelchair-users.
In summer, take a pre-dinner cocktail (apple juice, vodka and cucumber when we stayed) or pint of local ale to the terrace at the back, landscaped with pale pink roses and rolling-hill views. At the set-price, 3-course dinner, chunky dark wood tables reflect the upmarket hippy theme, along with grey and gold-shimmered walls, plum silk blinds and tear-drop chandeliers. Glasses shine, jazz plays softly, church candles flicker and Lord Bath in a turban gazes down from his frame. It's an inviting setting for a tempting menu that changes nightly; not cheap (see Rates) but good value. Almost everything is sourced from within 50 miles and the chef is a stickler for seasonality.
We thought the homemade bread was delicious, the just-seared tuna faultless. The main course cod in a pinenut crust with lentils was tasty; the Wiltshire pork with white bean purée, touched with honey and lavender onions, was sublime. The sticky toffee pudding was lovely, neither too heavy nor too sweet; the good Cornish Yarg and Devon Blue cheeses would have been better with homemade biscuits not crackers. When we revisited in 2012, we were similarly impressed: the Brixham crab bisque was satisfyingly rich, the goat's cheese herb salad delightfully fresh, and the sea bass with white-bean cassoulet and brown shrimps was extremely good. The only disappointment was that my pudding was tepid, and would have been superb warm (rhubarb and coconut crumble with coconut ice cream). Tables are placed a good distance apart and the wine list is decent.
If you'd prefer something more low key, the bar food looked good; think fish cakes, butternut squash risotto and steak. Young children may eat in the bar, older ones in the restaurant, and children get their own menu.
Breakfast is a help-yourself buffet - stewed fruits, oaty muesli with dried bananas, mini pastries, toast with hotel-pot jams - and fresh cooked whatever you like from the kitchen; our smoked salmon and scrambled eggs was delish, and the Eggs Benedict among the best we've ever had. Juices are from a carton, which was disappointing, but the coffee and tea selection are good.
The Bath Arms is very well-suited for those with babies and young children. Cots and highchairs are available at no extra cost, extra beds for children over 3 can be added to most rooms, and babysitting is possible. Young children may eat in the bar, and older ones can join their parents in the restaurant. Children get their own menu (beans on toast, free-range chicken and chips, baked salmon); best of all, they can say hello to the inn’s rare-breed pigs, and visit the veg patch at the back to root out the odd onion or carrot!
The 900-acre Longleat Estate with its famous safari park and historic house is on your doorstep - guests receive a 10% discount on tickets bought from reception.
Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
All 3 Deluxe rooms can have 1 or 2 extra beds fitted alongside the existing double bed - and are therefore perfect for families. You can also fit 1 extra bed (or, in some cases, 2 at a squeeze) in the Superior rooms.
Babysitting is available by arrangement.
Baby cots are available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking