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Countryside Charm: Homewood Hotel, Bath

Colourful, eccentric, family and dog-friendly, Homewood is a refreshingly playful, contemporary take on a British country hotel.

The tree-lined driveway winds through the estate’s gardens, past various animals sculpted from hedge, a yellow submarine and other eclectic artworks, and up to the grand exterior of a Georgian manor house. Inside, the eccentricities continue with vibrant, eye-catching furnishings and artworks, a Mediterranean-influenced restaurant, a spa, and a handful of spacious suites with private terrace hot tubs.

The hotel is roughly a 15 minutes’ drive away from Bath – close enough to pop in for lunch, or to spend an afternoon wandering, but enough of a distance to enjoy the peace and space of the countryside. The rear of the hotel backs onto wide, raggedy open fields and out across the rolling green of Avon Valley.

The Vibe

Hoteliers Ian and Christa Taylor (the people behind The Bird hotel in central Bath) bought and revamped Homewood over a period of two years, with the grand opening set for January 2020. As we all know, the doors weren’t able to stay open for long before various lockdowns ensued. Nevertheless, the new look is already attracting a variety of guests, from Londoners seeking a slice of country-living to hip young couples and families with a gaggle of children and dogs with tow.

One thing England most certainly isn’t lacking is grand country hotels, but Homewood genuinely feels differently which is mainly down to its unpretentious approach to luxury, and a warm, buzzy, and slightly chaotic atmosphere. The main building – the Georgian manor house – where most of the rooms, common spaces, and restaurant are located – feels warm and cosy, especially at night with the glow of the lights and the open fires. The spa is situated in a modern building at the back, along with the two hot tub suites.

The Rooms

There are 21 bedrooms in the main house, all uniquely designed with lots of colour and contrasting patterns which manages to create a strong sense of personality without feeling over the top.

The hot tub suites are the most spacious and flamboyant. Different in style, both have their own private walled terrace that backs directly onto the lawn (especially handy for dog-owners who are used to traipsing for miles in the dark to find the nearest stretch of grass). Ours featured rustic, warm interiors with wood-panelled walls, and sleek, contemporary furnishings. The bathroom sits at the front of the building with underfloor heating, a rainforest shower, and a standalone bathtub, whilst the combined bedroom and sitting room open onto the terrace through glass double doors. The huge double bed, with its elaborate, carved headboard and mountains of soft pillows, was hard to leave; in fact, we could have happily spent days without leaving the suite at all.

The hot tub, which is not often an elegant feature on its own right, sits beneath a pretty iron pergola, which adds to the sense of privacy and also means that you don’t have to worry about rain. There are also outdoor chairs and a table for alfresco dining on warmer days.

The Little Extras 

There were lots of touches that made our stay feel homely and luxurious. In our suite, there were little jars of delicious chocolate brownies and homemade biscuits, an elegant Smeg coffee machine and kettle with a selection of herbal teas, ultra-soft dressing gowns and Diptyque toiletries.

As we were travelling with a dog, a plush tartan dog bed had also been added to our room, along with a hamper containing dog treats, toys, and a special canine room service menu featuring dog-friendly cocktails, popcorn, and other dishes.

The Food + Drink

The dining room at the hotel’s restaurant Olio follows a slightly tropical theme with tall leafy potted plants and a collection of mismatched chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a particularly popular Sunday lunch menu, and an outdoor kitchen and pizza oven open during the summer. Whilst the menu borrows flavours from the Mediterranean, there’s a strong focus on locally sourced, seasonal produce which makes for wholesome, hearty dishes. From our dinner choices, the seabass was particularly impressive; perfectly cooked and delicately flavoured with lemon and olives served with a side of crisp truffle and parmesan fries and tenderstem broccoli. Our desserts –  sticky toffee pudding and honeycomb ice cream with chocolate sauce – were deliciously rich and indulgent.

We had breakfast delivered to our room; little shots of smoothie, freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade muesli and yummy French toast with vanilla yoghurt. The vegetarian breakfast needs finessing, more in terms of the ingredients than the actual cooking, but otherwise, it was all very enjoyable.

For drinks, the Valentine’s bar (open from noon until 11PM) is a welcoming spot with cherry-red walls, an assortment of paintings, and a comfortable collection of armchairs

The To-Do List

A day trip into Bath is the obvious choice. The hotel staff have brilliant suggestions of things to do and see depending on what you’re interested in, or who you’re travelling with. They can also help organise tickets and itineraries.

If you’re less keen on making plans, the city is perfect for wandering with a collection of lovely independent shops, restaurants, and pubs. We recommend The Hare & Hounds, a beautiful Victorian pub located on the very northern edge of Bath with spectacular views over the undulating countryside. It’s renowned for its top-notch home cooking, so booking is essential.

Strolling along the curve of the Royal Crescent and down through the Royal Victoria Park makes for an easy, picturesque walk. For art lovers, The Holbourne Museum is home to an interesting permanent collection of paintings, objects and books. The museum also hosts high-calibre visiting exhibitions such as the current survey of Grayson Perry’s work, which includes 70 items that have been crowd-sourced from across the UK.

No trip to Bath would be complete without a visit to The Roman Baths where you can walk on the original Roman pavements and see the ruins of a temple constructed in 60-70CE. Or else, combine culture and indulgence at Thermae Bath Spa where you can actually bathe in the natural thermal waters. Check in for a two-hour spa session which includes access to the open-air rooftop pool and the indoor Minerva bath.

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