The Talbot

Mells, Bristol, Bath & Somerset, United Kingdom Book from

A gorgeous old country pub with 8 modern rooms and fantastic prices
Beautiful style, excellent service, great food... all things that never go out of fashion. Owners Matt, Charlie and Dan once ran Babington House, so they learnt these mantras at the top before opening their own boutique property, The Beckford Arms. It was such a runaway success that they soon expanded their stable to include The Talbot. In both cases they wrapped the spoiling qualities of a top hotel in the relaxed comfort of a country pub, and added fantastic pricing to the mix.

In the beautiful Somerset town of Mells, with its 15th-century stone houses and Grade I-listed church, we fell in love with this ancient coaching inn. The quaint cobbled courtyard, the winding warren of beamed rooms and the modern Farrow & Ball hues. We drank ale by a roaring fire, dined on crayfish and Cornish pollock by candlelight, then wandered upstairs to our stylish bedroom where we slept in absolute peace. It was no surprise the place is usually abuzz with locals and visitors alike.

Highs

  • Stunning country-style rooms with contemporary art, gorgeous bathrooms and insanely comfortable beds; great value
  • Great restaurant, plus The Grill House at weekends - a traditional banquet hall with local meat and fish roasted on a massive fire; brilliant for a group
  • Little Mells is big on history, plus there's a charming walled garden, and wellies to borrow for countryside strolls
  • Staff are genuinely friendly and service is excellent
  • The little things: hot-water bottles, Bramley products, framed old maps and antique Vanity Fair prints

Lows

  • You have to go downstairs to get fresh milk for your tea
  • No bathrobes or wardrobes, just hangers on pegs
  • As the only pub around, it's likely to be busy and some rooms may experience noise (although we didn't hear a thing)
  • No disabled access

Best time to go

The Talbot is open all year and makes a lovely getaway whatever the season. Summer is gorgeous for lazy days in the pub garden, spring and autumn provide glorious natural colours, and the pub is a cosy bolthole in winter thanks to its open fires (and hot-water bottles!).

Our top tips

At certain times of year, the town of Shepton Mallet hosts one of the largest antiques and flea markets in the country. The Mulberry outlet store is here, too (20 minutes' drive)

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Foodie
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • Pub with rooms
  • 8
  • Pub open daily; The Grill House open Fri-Sun
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Weekly films
Room:

Rooms

The Talbot's 8 rooms are beautiful. Superb beds wrapped in white linens, thick duvets and a trademark tartan blanket; thick tweed curtains and button-back armchairs; deep sofas and contemporary art on the walls - ours had a melange of leaf sketches.

As should be the case, all rooms have the same homely comforts. Fragrant Bramley toiletries, good showers, tea trays with artisan sachets and proper coffee. Hot-water bottles hang from wall pegs; glossy magazines sit on your coffee table or window seat; vast plasma TVs have a bank of free films to watch.

There are 5 categories to choose from. The Small and Medium rooms are stylish and great value for money, with showers over tubs (or just a shower), and big windows letting in lots of light. Large has extra beautiful décor (we loved the window seat) and more space. Family has 2 bedrooms (a double and a twin room), with 2 bathrooms and space for a baby cot. And top of the pile, Very Large, are magnificent: we were blown away by our emperor-size four-poster bed, in-room clawfoot bathtub, and ensuite drench shower. There was also a separate sitting area with sofas, and logs filling an ancient fireplace. We lounged and slept brilliantly, and would return like a shot.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Film library
  • Hair straighteners
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Dinner at The Talbot was relaxed and well priced. Clusters of tables are spread between four small, low-ceilinged rooms, with a couple of open fires to warm things in winter. There are spindly alfresco tables in the cobbled courtyard for summer.

The menu changes daily, and is based around local produce. We kicked off with an excellent roast squash gnocchi with crispy sage and goats’ cheese. Mains were a Cornish pollock 'in a bag' with leeks and fragrant tarragon, and pork tenderloin with salt-baked celeriac - both very good. To finish, a steamed plum and honey pudding – wonderfully light yet warming, like a big hug in a bowl. Traditional bar food is also available all day, think enormous burgers, beer-battered fish and chips…

If you're here on a weekend, don't miss The Grill House. Local venison and glazed pork ribs are roasted on open wood-fires, along with fennel-stuffed sea bream and whole chickens. Dark panelling, high-beamed ceilings and brass candlesticks provide atmosphere; the bar is flanked by boars' heads. Wash everything down with local ale or one of their specialist gin concoctions.

At Breakfast, tuck into local breads with seasonal jams, then perhaps thyme-roasted mushrooms, eggs Benedict or fresh pastries. Hot chocolate with whipped cream on the side? Oh, go on then.

If you fancy a change of scene, nearby Frome has some lovely lunch spots (a 10-minute drive away) and Bruton's At The Chapel does excellent wood-fired pizzas.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Stroll around 15th-century Mells. Resident historian Justin can tell you some local tales and show you the tower of the old church (he winds the clock daily). There's a lovely walled garden over the road, plus local fields for a ramble
  • Pretty Frome has independent boutiques and a Sunday artisan market (10-minute drive). We also like Bruton's antique stores, beautiful architecture and famous art gallery
  • Further afield, Bath has boutique shops, gorgeous Georgian architecture and the famous Roman Baths. There's an excellent spa with natural waters and a rooftop pool
  • Spend a day at Longleat Safari Park - drive through animal enclosures (lions, tigers, rhinos), explore the famous maze and wander the enormous house (1,996 windows, 99 chimneys and 283 doors!)
  • If the weather's good, the National Trust's Stourhead Gardens has a magnificent lake, mystical grottoes and rare exotic trees

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Films
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Shopping / markets
  • Wildlife

Kids

Families are welcome. There's a lawned area out back for kids to run around, and child-friendly meals in the bar and restaurant (burgers, fish and chips etc). All rooms except the Small have a bath. 0-3 year olds stay for free; there is a surcharge for 3+ year olds.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

A travel baby cot or extra bed for a child can be added to all rooms except 2 and 5.

The Family room (which has its own separate entrance) is ideal with 1 double bedroom plus a twin bedded annexe room (discounts are are available for less than 4 guests) - enquire for details). Very Large room 6 is also a good option with a double sofabed in its separate sitting room.

Baby listening:

Baby monitors reach the rooms from the restaurant.

Children's meals:

The traditional pub meals will please most kids, and are available in child-size portions.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
10/
Value
9/
Overall

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