Somerset Georgian country house, with SoHo House London style
Since opening in the late 90s, this pace-setting upscale Georgian country retreat for media luvvies has gone from strength to strength. I first stayed shortly after Babington House opened, not because of my impeccable media luvvie credentials but because I saw a feature on it in an interiors magazine. I really liked how they had combined period details with a contemporary twist without getting all chintzy. It set the tone back then in contemporary country retreats.
We first stayed in the coach house, in a huge suite with a classic bathtub free standing in the room, which was quite a design statement back then.
It was a peaceful, understated place, and just now and then you might spot a famous guest and have to pretend to be cool.
Now of course all us ‘thirty something’s’ are ‘forty somethings’ and many have kids. On a recent visit I was amazed how over-run it was with children. Also, I hate to say this but I think it’s become too pretentious. It used to be more friendly and natural; now the staff think they’re the celebrities and there’s a bit of a New York style at the front desk.
But the rooms are still very comfy and welcoming. I have also stayed in the house and it’s lovely. My suite had a huge, soft sofa covered in damson coloured corduroy velvet – I wanted to take the sofa home!
The food is excellent too – start the day with their super rich French roast, and eggs Benedict, and continue indulging all day. There is an ‘open all hours’ kitchen to indulge your whims, and a English afternoon tea with fresh, home made cakes, and of course the fancy dining room.
There’s the famous Cow Shed spa too, that has gone from strength to strength – one gets a full set of products in the guest room too. I enjoyed a good massage, and the chill out area is smart, overlooking the period, walled market garden; and the fresh ginger tea was a nice touch too.
The place has a ‘lived in’ feel, so don’t expect pristine, 5 star hotel cleanliness and maintenance; it’s much more like a well used country house; which it is.
The surrounding countryside is wonderful; and at this time of year with blue bells in the woods, it makes great escape. My recommendation is to go mid week during term time.
Of course these days, Babington is not alone; there are a number of other fancy country house hotels in the West Country, but few can mimic the special atmosphere of Babington.
- Still superbly stylish guest rooms and public areas
- Great food and wine list
- Cow shed spa and guest amenities
- Not much fun at weekends, if you aren’t fond of children
- It’s pricey
- Sometimes the place looks a bit scruffy