- The Bath Arms in Wiltshire underwent a transformation during lockdown with its ivy facade stripped away
- The Inspector was shown to a room at the top of the house, ‘reached via various fire doors’
- He was impressed by the room’s ‘character, romance and a sense of calm’ along with the ‘huge bathroom’
- The service was ‘a little haphazard’ in the main dining room but the convivial atmosphere got a thumbs up
- Remember… The Inspector pays his way – and tells it like it is…
The Bath Arms has been through some changes (haven’t we all?) over the past ten years or so.
It’s always been part of Lord Bath’s Longleat estate (the current Duke inherited on the death of his father in April), but various management teams have come and gone.
The current lot has a considerable pedigree in the form of The Beckford Arms, The Talbot Inn and the Lord Poulett Arms — all in rolling countryside in Wiltshire and Somerset.
It helps, of course, when you take over a classically beautiful, 18th-century coaching inn surrounded by woods and Capability Brown parkland — and just so we get the idyllic rural message, a hooting owl greets us on arrival.
The big transformation took place during lockdown, with much of the ivy-clad building stripped back to reveal its original features in all their glory.
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That means flagstones, oak floorboards and mantelpieces that would have architectural salvage companies salivating. A bright young man with impeccable manners shows us to our room at the top of the house.
‘It’s my favourite, actually,’ he says. I can see why, albeit reached via various fire doors that could do with a lick of paint.
Character, romance and a sense of calm are writ large, with the huge bathroom (Bramley products) reached via a low Alice In Wonderland door.
Downstairs, there’s a charming bar with a snug next to it where one wall is covered in Vanity Fair prints. This is a classy place, accessible to all.
While we sit on comfy chairs near the front door and enjoy a pre-dinner drink, a family of five, plus a greyhound, step in.
They look as if they’ve been walking for hours. I can think of few better places to recuperate.