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Hotel Highlights

  • The original hip country hotel
  • Fabulous spa; indoor and outdoor pools
  • Soho House's family-friendly West Country outpost

Overview

RUNNER-UP: BEST SMITH HOTEL 2013 – SMITH HOTEL AWARDS 2013

Set in a handsome manor on 18 landscaped acres in Somerset, Babington House hotel brings a little bit of cosmopolitan London cool to the West country. The rural cousin of the exclusive Soho House, it’s the perfect spot for stressed urbanites to unplug and unwind. The staff is hip, friendly and, refreshingly, not in uniform. The Cowshed spa, indoor and outdoor pools, billiard room and on-premise cinema may make you reconsider a return to the city.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Babington House with us:

A full-size Cowshed bath product

Facilities

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Babington House Hotel - Somerset - United Kingdom

Need To Know

Rooms

32 rooms, including 11 in the Main House, three in the Spa, five Family Rooms in the Stable Block, and the Lodge, a three-bedroom cottage at the top of the drive.

Check–out

12 noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $442.23 (£275), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates exclude breakfast: choose from Continental (£7.50) or Full English (£16).

Also

Wellies provided.

At the hotel

Gardens, Cowshed Spa with indoor and outdoor pools, gym, sauna and steam room, library, pool room (with a stash of cigars), 45-seat cinema, croquet lawn, tennis courts, cricket pitch and DVD selection, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: LCD TV, DVD player, CD player, radio, iPod dock, Xbox, minibar, bathrobes, slippers, Cowshed bath products, hair straighteners, free bottled water.

Our favourite rooms

We loved seductive Room 5, with a freestanding bath by the bed; Room 6, with its tub on a private terrace; and Room 12 for its eight-foot bed and big bathroom with views to the lake.

Poolside

Babington’s two heated swimming pools are open between 7am and 10pm. The outdoor infinity pool, overlooking the lake, is lined with cushioned, wooden loungers. The indoor pool forms part of the spa complex.

Packing tips

Don't forget your swimsuit (though there's a shop if you do), goggles, and suitable attire to walk from bedroom to spa.

Also

There’s a minimum two-night stay on Friday and Saturday nights. Family rooms and the Lodge are normally booked up a year in advance. Weddings are held most Thursdays.

Children

Very welcome in the Stables Block family rooms. There’s the free Little House crèche for kids aged one and up, and there are designated children’s hours at the pool during the week. Babysitting can be arranged, and there’s a menu for wee ones.

Read more

Pet‐friendly

Dogs are welcome, free, in all rooms in the Stable Block, in the Lodge and in ground-floor rooms in the Coach House.

Food & Drink

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Babington House Hotel - Somerset - United Kingdom

Hotel Restaurant

There are three dining areas: the airy and elegant Orangery, the adjoining made-for-banquets Log Room, and the casual Deli Bar. All serve a self-assured menu of tasty brasserie fare: at the Orangery, indulge in mains such as organic salmon with samphire, lentils and sorrel sauce, or sate carnivorous urges with a selection of grills, including steak, pork chops and cuts of lamb. Sandwiches, pizzas, Babington burgers and house fish ’n’ chips typify the Deli Bar menu.

Hotel Bar

On the ground floor, the House Bar is a curvaceous, high-ceilinged, French-windowed picture of country elegance, where guests hunker down on turtle-green Chesterfields and velvety lilac armchairs.

Last orders

The restaurant closes when last guest leaves. Bar open until 2am, later for residents.

Room service

When only grazing on the sofa will do, order from a menu of sandwiches, salads, pizzas and comfort-food mains such as fish and chips any time between 7am and 11pm.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Barefoot or ballgown.

Top table

By day, sit at the edge of the Orangery overlooking the lawn; at night, ask for a restaurant view.

Local Guide

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Babington House Hotel - Somerset - United Kingdom
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Hop on a bike (the hotel has several stately cycles to borrow) and set off for the rolling Somerset countryside. Rural pursuits, such as horse riding and clay shooting can be arranged at the Wellow Trekking Centre (01225 834376) and there’s a golf club, Orchardleigh, in Frome (01373 454200). Longleat stately home, butterfly house, and safari park is a 20-minute drive (01985 844328; www.longleat.co.uk).

Local restaurants

A six-minute drive from the hotel lies The Talbot Inn (+44 (0)1373 812254) – part of Smith's collection – which serves classic British fare such as day-boat landed fish with chips, well-aged steaks and comfort puddings. The Garden Café in Frome is a lovely spot for Sunday breakfast (especially alfresco, in summer), specialising in natural, organic food. Its cakes are rib-stickingly good (+44 (0)1373 454178). Plump for Cornish mussels, a Somerset ploughman’s, or pitch up on a Sunday afternoon for a classic roast. The Tythe Barn bar has casks of real ale and 600-year-old oak beams (+44 (0)1373 812254). You'd be mad to miss the excellent hyper-local fare of Smith stay The Pig near Bath (+44 (0)1761 490490), where veggies are whisked from garden to kitchen, and – true to its name – the pork joints and crackling are the stuff foodie dreams are made of. 

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Home from Frome

Babington House

Babington House, Nr Frome, Somerset, Northeast Somerset, BA11 3RW, United Kingdom

Babington House crowns the leafy roll of rural north-east Somerset, between Bath and Frome.

Planes

Bristol International is the nearest airport (www.bristolairport.co.uk), around 50 minutes by car from the hotel.

Trains

The nearest railway station is Bath Spa, a 30-minute drive from Babington House. Bath Spa is served by direct trains from London Paddington (90-minute journey; www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk); for services from the north, change at Bristol Temple Meads (www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk).

Automobiles

Reach the hotel by car using the M3 and A303 from the east; head west through Frome, following the road to Mells; finally, take a T-junction turning towards Kilmersdon. From Bristol, take the A37 to Radstock, then the A362, before turning onto the B3139 signposted to Wells. The hotel is around two hours from Birmingham, three hours from London.

Other

Babington House has a helipad; to arrive by helicopter, please book through reception ahead of arrival.

Reviews

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Babington House Hotel - Somerset - United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by Sophie Dening , Professional weekender

The pair of bicycles that greet us at the door of our Garden Room at Babington House look so sweet and friendly I feel like asking their names. We were half-expecting this Somerset slice of urbe in rus to feel a little, y'know, exclusive – its reputation and pedigree are downright stellar – but we quickly realise its popularity among fashion and film folk is owed as much to its warmth …
Read more

Babington House

Anonymous review by Sophie Dening, Professional weekender

The pair of bicycles that greet us at the door of our Garden Room at Babington House look so sweet and friendly I feel like asking their names. We were half-expecting this Somerset slice of urbe in rus to feel a little, y'know, exclusive – its reputation and pedigree are downright stellar – but we quickly realise its popularity among fashion and film folk is owed as much to its warmth and homeliness as to its hip Ilse Crawford design. (Having a Cowshed spa, indoor and outdoor pools as well as a cinema doesn't do any harm to its luminary-luring cred either.)

Arriving on a drizzly English day, we're delighted to find our room has a good deal more to offer than just a place to rest our weary heads for the night. We could probably live here, to be honest – at least for a few weeks, until the craving to cook our own breakfast and do our own chores got too much for us. A five-minute walk from the main house, it has its own front door (guarded by our pet bikes), which leads, ingeniously, into the bathroom. We wouldn't try this at home, but it works beautifully here. No space is wasted on an entrance hall, and it's where we leave boots and coats, and dump our bags on a central oversized padded bench. A tin bath stands at one end, a single, simple embroidered artwork hanging over it; there's a big walk-in shower, and a loo in its own handsome privy, done out hunting-lodge look in exposed stone and wood. The moment when Mr Smith discovers a copy of the Beano in there is one to treasure.

The comfortable, wholemeal-deluxe style of this countryside outpost of the private members club reminds us of the Scandinavian homes we love to envy in design mags. Our huge, double-height sitting room, easily big enough for a family of five to amuse themselves without a fight, has stone flooring, a big pinky-beige sisal rug and a giant woolly pouffe, its fronds like the dreadlocks of a very clean sheepdog. The only ornaments as such are a few bits of enamelled cookware, lovely ceramic bowls and old R White lemonade bottles. Light pours in through a glass wall, easy to obscure at bedtime or if you're feeling private. The terrace outside gives access to Babington's kitchen garden, with its red-brick walls, box hedge, neater-than-neat raised beds, rows of lettuce à la Peter Rabbit, espaliered fruit-trees and a dovecot. (Talking of children's book heroes, this is a parents' paradise: the Little House crèche is open daily to members and guests.)

So, we've got it all: the view, the just-cut garden flowers, a woven basket full of fresh style magazines, the Bose stereo and Sony telly, a tweedy-soft sofa and a cream-coloured cast-iron wood-burning stove. (There's no chance of being cold, we find later on, with our bed draped in enough quilts and tartan blankets to pin down the fidgetiest sleeper.) We discover a kettle, Clipper teas and high-quality, penny chocolate in the dresser. Stepping onto the terrace, having styled myself up in topknot, bikini, flip-flops and thick Babington robe, I embark on a spot of hot-tub action. It's absurdly big and luxurious to loll in, a great steaming dish in the English chill, and… I don't want to spoil your future fun so I'll leave you to discover the red button for yourselves.

Over in the main house before dinner, we take aperitifs in the bar, where olive and aubergine colours, sculptural artworks and scraps of telltale conversation make for a distinctly 'London-on-sea' feel. We very much enjoy the uniquely Babington moment when an asymmetrically maned barman leans in to tend the fire. In here, in the billiards room and library at the front, we never feel remotely crowded; there are four club sofas in the bar alone, overlooking the gardens and the duck pond. And the plentiful staff, confident and laidback to a man, play their significant yet unobtrusive part perfectly.

We do sense the occasional whiff of Atonement or A Handful of Dust, such as the two flat-capped lads we see doing something to a tree stump by the drive. This is, after all, an historic property with acres of grounds, a croquet lawn and an 18th-century chapel. There are wellies to borrow, panelled walls and hunting trophies in the library – though, come 11am, it is full of laptop-scratchers, their other halves galloping along on exercise bikes in the gym or getting their stress seen to in the Cowshed spa.

You walk through an open kitchen to get to dinner in the slate-floored orangery, where we take one of a dozen tables for two set round the edge of the room. It's not at all sceney, rather informal, with Nineties chill-out playing in the background, and a seasonal, gastropubbish menu of crispy squid, beef carpaccio, seabass and ribeye. We talk of many things, making the most of being in instant-holiday mode. After some terrific English cheese, we take the boring road – the one leading to beauty sleep, rather than pudding-wine dementia – and walk back arm-in-arm to watch the beginning of a DVD. It's not long before we're fast asleep in our Rolls-Royce of a bed.

It isn't until long after our stay, when I meet one of the designers responsible for the luxy rusticity of the Garden Rooms, that I learn that those welcoming pushbikes, so honest and nostalgic, cost the best part of a grand each. It makes me laugh to hear that, but I'm not really surprised. Everything you see, touch or eat here is the best. The artworks are original, the wellingtons are Hunter, the eggs Benedict is superlative. We've only stayed one night, but we've had serious fun. We didn't have time to explore the acres of grounds, but we had Cowshed spa treatments (superb), and can proudly say that we had a swim and sauna before breakfast. It's as romantic as it is family-friendly, and, as out-and-out townies, we felt more at home in the countryside than ever before (clip-clopping along the cobbled path in impractical heeled sandals is practically de rigueur). For low-key luxury and style, far from the madding police sirens, we know where to come.

The Guestbook

Reviews of Babington House from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked everything, including the great food, very hospitable and accommodating staff, real wood-burning fireplace in the bedroom, excellent sauna and steam rooms. It struck the right note on all fronts. It makes everyone welcome – couples, families, dog owners – but house rules ensure a respectful atmosphere.

Don’t expect

The fitness room was a bit crowded at peak times (outside members) so the size and layout could use a re-think and users should be encouraged to tidy-up after themselves.

Rating: 10/10 stars