Hotel Highlights

  • Easily reached from London, 10 minutes out of Bath
  • Historic pub serving traditional English ales
  • Budget boutique hotel with rooms from £90

Overview

Built over the remains of an 11th-century monastery, the Muddy Duck hotel (formerly the King's Arms), just outside Bath, does its history proud with its well-stocked cellar and dramatic architecture. Whether the tales of historical intrigues are true or not really doesn’t matter because this shadowy pub, lit softly by cosy fires and candlelight, is as atmospheric as a Rembrandt painting. Once you’ve settled in, you won’t want to leave this stone-walled country inn, especially once you taste the superlative local food and English ales on offer.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Muddy Duck with us:

Free Musetti coffee and tea to your room throughout your stay

Facilities

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The Muddy Duck Hotel – Bath – United Kingdom

Need To Know

Rooms

Three.

Check–out

11am, but flexible for free. Earliest check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $168.23 (£100), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast.

At the hotel

Free WiFi throughout, book and DVD library and a courtyard. In rooms: flatscreen TV, CD/DVD player, iPod dock, free bottled water and REN bath products.

Our favourite rooms

We love Room 3; it’s got the most space in the house, a super-king-size sleigh bed piled high with pillows, a freestanding roll-top bath and a stone wood-burning fireplace. Its antique accordion modesty screen isn’t bad either. Room 2 is smaller but still feels spacious – with enough room for a window seat and a vanilla-coloured sleigh bed.

Packing tips

A capsule wardrobe encompassing both city slicker (for Georgian jaunts into Bath) and country dweller (for rural rambling in Wiltshire) looks.

Children

Cots for babies are provided free (extra beds are £20 a night each), and there’s a children’s menu. Babysitting can be arranged in advance.

Food & Drink

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The Muddy Duck Hotel – Bath – United Kingdom

Hotel Restaurant

The restaurant side of the bar has a wood-burning fireplace, parquet flooring, heavy wooden tables and old beams. There are stacks of books to borrow on the window sills and vivid flowers dressing up the moody, masculine room. The brasserie-style menu has fish fresh in from Brixham Market, and most other ingredients from nearby Neston Park Farm Shop.

Hotel Bar

Guests gather by the stone fireplace in the pub to drink robust English ales such as Otter Amber and Butcombe as they steal tips on the region from the many lyrical locals.

Last orders

Breakfast is served between 8am and 10.30am. Lunch is available 12pm–3pm; dinner, 6pm–10pm. The bar stays open till 11pm (later at weekends).

Room service

Anything you can get downstairs can be delivered to your room between 8am and 10pm.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Comfortable country casuals – muddy wellies welcome.

Top table

Warming up by the fire, or in a cosy booth at the other end. When the weather plays along, take your pint out onto the leafy courtyard.

Local Guide

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The Muddy Duck Hotel – Bath – United Kingdom
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Jamie’s Italian is a Jamie Oliver outpost on Milsom Street in Bath – head here for rustic repasts and an Italy-exclusive wine list (+44 (0)1225 432340). On John Street, try the honey-barbecued duck, baked-for-six-hours shoulder of lamb or spice-rubbed steak at the Firehouse Rotisserie (+44 (0)1225 482070).

+ Enlarge
Stony hillside hamlet

The Muddy Duck

Monkton Farleigh, Bath, Wiltshire BA15 2QH, United Kingdom

Planes

Bristol airport is 15 miles from the hotel. Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flies in from all across Europe, including Belfast and Dublin.

Trains

From the train stations in Bath or Bradford-on-Avon, it’s another five miles to the hotel. First Great Western (www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk) runs services to and from London Paddington (to Bath, it’s around an hour and a half).

Automobiles

Leave the M4 at Junction 18 and it’s a 10-minute drive to the centre of Bath, using the A36, A4 and A46. When driving along the Bath Easton Bypass, take the third exit from the roundabout, duck under a bridge and wend through the woods, keeping a beady eye out for the hotel's sign. There’s free parking at the hotel.

Reviews

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The Muddy Duck Hotel – Bath – United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by Jess Cartner-Morley , Front-row fashionista

Ah, the country pub: something revered and idealised by the British – a term alone that can make a stiff upper lip tremble with emotion. Like buttered crumpets, Pooh-sticks or Hunter wellies, the very idea fills us with happy nostalgia.

And so it is that Mr Smith and I find ourselves driving down Wiltshire lanes, weekend bag on the back seat, Hunters in the boot, impatient for the...

Read more

The Muddy Duck

Anonymous review by Jess Cartner-Morley, Front-row fashionista

Ah, the country pub: something revered and idealised by the British – a term alone that can make a stiff upper lip tremble with emotion. Like buttered crumpets, Pooh-sticks or Hunter wellies, the very idea fills us with happy nostalgia.

And so it is that Mr Smith and I find ourselves driving down Wiltshire lanes, weekend bag on the back seat, Hunters in the boot, impatient for the Muddy Duck to loom out of the inky darkness. It does. The swinging sign is of the modern type, all muted Farrow & Ball tones and modish font. The pub is built of those solid chunks of honey-toned stone, like giant slabs of Cotswold fudge. There are ancient vines twisted around the heavy oak front door, which pushes open to reveal a thick velvet curtain shielding the pub inside from the draughts. So far, so idyllic.

I know what you’re thinking. This is where it all goes wrong. This is when the boutique-hotel aficionados get left waiting awkwardly with their bags for 10 minutes while the bored teenage barmaid pointedly ignores them. Then the shown to a room with thin curtains and no water pressure. Or handed one of those alarmingly extensive laminated menus that suggest the existence of a freezer out back stocked with everything from Peking duck to shepherd’s pie. Because the thing about the country pub is, the good ones are out there, but you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find them.

Thankfully, the reality is as follows. Vince, the proprietor, is at the bar. I have just enough time to take in scrubbed wooden tables laid for dinner, exposed brick walls, church candles, herringbone-parquet floor, and then we are led upstairs, along a guest corridor stocked with Scrabble, packs of cards, a pile of DVDs, and into room 3. Room 3 is enormous. Vast. Massive. In London, this kind of floor space would be converted into a decent-size one-bedroom apartment before you can say ‘property-developer’.

The super-king-size bed looks positively cute in it. Under a window at one end are two armchairs beside a coffee table, with a chess set. At the foot of the bed is a large sofa, facing an open log fire. At the other end is a freestanding claw-footed bath. The fire, thick shutters and curtains and soft velvet sofa make it cosy despite the size. The decor is well-executed chic rather than directional design flair, but it works. The bathroom (toiletries: Ren) is in the signature New York-hotel style (black rubber floor, metro tiles, oversized showerhead) but four times the size of a New York hotel bathroom.

We order G&Ts, which are brought swiftly, strong and ice-cold, with a dish of salted almonds that is all the more welcome for being unrequested. We pop the iPod in the docking station and take our positions for half an hour of pre-dinner newspaper reading: me in the bath, Mr Smith on the sofa in front of the fire. We declare ourselves happy.

The dining room is full when we go downstairs: there are only three rooms in this boutique inn, but locals and weekenders come for the food. (A party from the Bath Rugby Club had their New Year’s Eve dinner here. Very polite and well-behaved they were too, according to the sweetly chatty Muddy Duck staff.) Our table is in the inglenook fireplace – the largest inglenook in the county, it easily houses two tables-for-four.

The food is best summed up as 'latest-edition gastropub classics'. We have crackling with apple sauce, devilled whitebait and crab linguine to start; then rare T-bone steaks with great chips and rocket salad followed by sticky toffee pudding. It is all delicious, as is the French red, and by the time we finish dinner we are so jolly that we select The Hangover from the DVD pile and giggle through the whole thing on our velvet sofa.

Now, as is oft the rumour with these old inns, apparently the pub is haunted. And the phantom? A monk who plays practical jokes on guests and staff – there was a priory in Monkton Farleigh in the 11th century. But no ghouls or living souls disturb us and we are woken in time for breakfast by the sound of horses (real ones, not ghostly) clip-clopping along the road outside. One thing I’d have loved? Paraphernalia in the room for an early cuppa – I appreciate those tea trays look a bit, you know, bed-and-breakfasty, which is why smart establishments eschew them, but I’d always kill for a kettle hidden away in the cupboard. Still, awaiting downstaires are delicious scrambled eggs and bacon for Mr Smith; boiled eggs and Marmite soldiers for me; excellent coffee for both – all served at a big, comfy table with all the weekend papers.

Monkton Farleigh feels like deepest countryside yet it is only five miles from Bath. Bradford-on-Avon is just as close too, a very picturesque Avon Valley town with winding streets, historic buildings and a lovely stone bridge. And yes, as is the Cotswolds way, a surfeit of shops selling heart-shaped knick-nacks. (And I say this as someone who is always partial to a cutesy geegaw.)

Bath, much bigger, has pretty streets, endless restaurants, a cinema where we catch a matinee, and some great shops. We pop here for sushi to offset the pubby indulgences; there is culture too, apparently. This takes us almost through to supper time, so it is back to our lovely room, and then to ‘our’ table, where we have another first-class supper: duck liver pâté, Caesar salad; roast chicken with frîtes, venison with celeriac; and – the standout – a delicious English cheeseboard.

Top-notch food is only part of what makes a great dinner. Service makes all the difference, and the Muddy Duck totally gets this. Bad service turns us into curmudgeons and naggers: nobody wants to be that person in the corner irritably barking ‘excuse me’ at the waiter repeatedly. When service is seamless, you feel taken care of and you get to be gracious and smile and say thank you all the time, which makes you feel your best about a place and also about yourself – and your weekend away. Everyone’s a winner.

Sunday morning, we head out for a post-breakfast (excellent Full English; underwhelming Eggs Benedict) walk. After all – can’t go home without getting those Hunters muddy. The immediate countryside isn’t staggeringly beautiful, at least not on an overcast, blowy winter morning, but there are stiles and footpaths and some soul-uplifting rural views within reach.

Then it’s time to check out – although it feels much too soon. Mr Smith starts talking about buying a stuffed pike, like the one on the wall above ‘our’ breakfast table at the Muddy Duck, partly as a reminder of a really decent weekend. Which it was. What you get at this gastropub with gusto are all the country-pub clichés (open fire, the clubbable atmosphere, the opportunity to get a bit tipsy and then sleep it off in peace), without the bad clichés (the surly teenage staff, the bad music, the scratchy bedlinen). As Bath’s most famous writer, Jane Austen, might have put it: Reader, we loved it.
 

The Guestbook

Reviews of The Muddy Duck 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 31 Mar 2014

We loved

The team at the Muddy Duck was exceptional – nothing was too much trouble. The breakfast was fantastic. We also had an evening meal that was faultless. The spa was a wonderful experience.

 

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 26 Mar 2014

We loved

The staff was very helpful and friendly; nothing was too much trouble. Room 3 was huge with a log burner.

Don’t expect

Somewhere to dry hair with a mirror would be good.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 26 Mar 2014

We loved

The ambience in the pub was lovely; all of the staff went out of their way to ensure we enjoyed our stay. Snuggling up in front of the log burner in our room was very romantic and indulgent.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 26 Feb 2014

We loved

I liked making my own Bloody Mary in the mornings! I also enjoyed the bathtub, the stack of dvds in the hallway, th very nice breakfasts and the impeccable service that makes you feel very special – nothing was a problem for the staff.

Don’t expect

The TV could be mounted slightly lower or be tiltable for in-bed viewing!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 18 Jan 2014

We loved

This is a great boutique hotel: the staff make you feel so welcome and relaxed the moment you walk through the door. It has a great atmosphere and the food is fantastic. The crackling nibbles are a must-have, washed down with a pint of Mr. T. I would recommend Room 3 – the log burner makes it cosy on a winter's eve.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 9 Dec 2013

We loved

The Muddy Duck from the outside was beautiful, like something out of a fairytale with the tree growing around the front door. The bar and eating area was lovely with a great big fireplace with a log burner and old wooden beams throughout. We had lunch and breakfast there, which were both fantastic, and I wish we'd stayed for dinner there now. The inclusive breakfast was Continental, which was great and we could have something from their extensive breakfast menu as well, which was covered in the cost of the room. We felt absolutely spoilt by the staff there. Everyone went over and above to make our stay enjoyable and relaxing. I've never had such good service before. Now, the room… that was something else entirely. We were in Room 3. The room was massive! There were two cosy posh seats in the window next to a table with a lovely metallic chess set, a gorgeous sofa, a lovely big bed, a log-burning stove with all the wood set up so all you need to do is light a match, a lovely dressing table and wardrobe and a big bath at one end of the room. Needless to say, we loved it! The bathroom was also luxurious and had everything you need: soaps, shampoos, dressing gowns, fluffy towels and even cotton buds. Also, I've never seen so many cool lamps in one room. Plus, they gave us sweets in a cool info box. I simply can't say enough good things about it. Truly, the pictures do not do this room justice. It's the best place I've ever stayed in.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 3 Dec 2013

We loved

Our room was absolutely stunning, the largest room I have ever stayed in. Our little boy especially loved the freestanding bath tub. The staff was extremely friendly and the pub warm and inviting.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 10 Nov 2013

We loved

I was well looked after; they made me feel very welcome.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 25 Sep 2013

We loved

We had a lovely midweek break here after an event in Bath and enjoyed every aspect of our stay. We had to check-in late and they were very accommodating and friendly when we showed up (as were the few locals still sitting at the bar!) The hotel building itself was really beautiful and was warmly glowing when we arrived: so inviting. The room (Room 1) was lovely with everything you would need, including a gorgeous roll-top bath. The bed was so unbelievably comfortable I didn't ever want to leave it. Breakfast was really yummy and the local honey was exceptional. We went on a walk (to Browns Folly) and a quick trip to Castle Coombe and came back for a lazy lunch by the fire of baked camembert, duck for the Mr and a burger for me – all were delicious! I would highly recommend this hotel. The bedrooms were luxurious (we had a quick look at the others and they looked great), the food was wonderful and the staff were so attentive and friendly. If visiting Bath this is the perfect place to stay as its only 10 minutes drive from Bath but you get all the warm and cosiness of the countryside. Can't wait to go back.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 2 Aug 2013

We loved

I liked the quiet location in tiny, charming village, just 20 minutes by taxi from the Bath Spa station. It's a good base for walking – public footpaths are steps away. There's a nice fire lit on colder, damp days. The newly renovated rooms managed to preserve the Old World characater of the rooms but include modern, posh plumbing fixtures. The team is a very fun, friendly and helpful group of folks. We stayed three nights and ate there each night. The food was fresh, tasty, innovative and perfectly seasoned, with yummy hot breakfasts.

Don’t expect

A little more insulation in the walls between rooms four and five would be good: we could hear our neighbors.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 31 May 2013

We loved

The staff at the hotel was incredibly welcoming and friendly. The pub had a local feel and the food was absolutely excellent. Breakfast on the weekends until 11am is perfect, as is the relaxed check-out time of 12 noon. Breakfast was relaxed and cooked to order and it was great to have the Continental selection laid out for us to choose from. The room (Room 2) was spacious yet cosy and the shower was fantastic. We had everything we wanted in the room.

Don’t expect

Perhaps some information in the room on the village and local area (where to go for countryside walks, etc) and some information on how to get into Bath and what there is to do there. This is a minor point, however, and the whole experience was excellent. The room is relatively noisy; you can hear the noise and music from the pub downstairs. However, this only goes on until about midnight and so it didn't disturb us. If you want to go to bed at 10pm and be in total peace and quiet, you might not get this. In the morning, however, it is silent and we slept in until late.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 7 Aug 2012

We loved

The hotel was lovely, the room was beautiful and had everything you needed. The food was amazing and the service from the staff was excellent.

Don’t expect

Nothing.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 21 Jul 2012


This place is so cool. It is a little hard to find in remote Monkton Fairleigh but at only 20 mins from Bath, in the absolute quietness of the back of beyond, it is fantastic. A very very old monastery now classy, converted pub with quirky stories of monks and priors, ghosts and keys, windy skinny staircases, creaky old castle-type doors, and simple charisma. But also genuine, welcoming, friendly and honest. Great pricing food and simple, consistent hospitality. If you are going to Bath or nearby, this is just outside but we will remember this place forever, not like many other 'yet another pub or hotel'.

Rating: 8/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 31 May 2012


A very comfortable place to stay – room three is enormous, with an intimate atmosphere that oozes history at every turn. The hotel’s location, next to what seems to be a working farm, may be one reason their restaurant is excellent, excelling in taste, variety and quantity, so we ate there on all three nights of our stay. They have a deal on Tuesday nights, which they told us is permanent, for 50% off any bottle in their extensive wine list; offering a good chance to go for the top-end stuff that you might not normally have. As the city of Bath is only five miles away, this place offers a nice alternative to visitors who want something different from the big Georgian piles in town. There’s even a bus stop right by the entrance.

Rating: 8/10 stars