Autumn is the perfect time to take off on a long-weekend mini-break, and there are plenty of lovely spots in the UK that make for the perfect escape – from the achingly idyllic Cotswolds to the rugged Cornish coastline. And I recently stumbled upon a real gem when I headed down to the West Country.
My family and I checked into The Mount, in Somerset, a beautiful converted Regency country house hotel, which occupies an idyllic rural spot between the Quantock and Blackdown Hills, and sits among four acres of private gardens. In fact, it’s easy to hole up in your sumptuous room, call for room service and never set foot outside this gorgeous hotel’s grounds!
For active types, though, The Mount is ideally located for a number of rural pursuits – and it’s also just a short 10-minute drive to bustling Taunton town centre, with its shops, bars and restaurants.
Read on for my full review…
The grand facade of The Mount Somerset
A HOTEL WITH WOW FACTOR…
The hotel’s reception area – an unusual octagonal-shaped hall – has high ceilings and beautiful period features, such as deep cornicing and ceiling roses. Plants and vases of flowers are displayed on marble plinths, while a sweeping spiral staircase rises above the reception area beneath a huge chandelier. Classical statues set in niches on the way up only add to the grandness, making you feel like lords and ladies of the manor.
The hotel has been extended in recent years and now offers 19 guest rooms, ranging from Classic to Garden Deluxe Rooms. For the ultimate in luxury, the latter have private terraces and outdoor hot tubs.
We stayed in a standard Deluxe Room in the new part of the property, which was decorated in rich shades of cream and maroon (think statement feature walls, heavy drapes and glamorous gilt mirrors). The bathroom was beautiful, too, with its claw-footed freestanding tub (I had to resist the urge to go for soak straight away!) and enormous wet room-style waterfall shower.
TIME TO INDULGE
The Elan spa has been modelled on a traditional hammam bathhouse, with its sparkling tiled mosaic floors. There’s a hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam room, and an invigorating foot spa (a mini Jacuzzi just for your feet!), plus an outdoor suntrap terrace with day beds.
We were staying at The Mount in early May, when we could just about get away with lying out there in our thick hotel robes in the watery spring sunshine, but it would be better experienced in the summer months. The spa is small and you shouldn’t visit expecting anything too elaborate/extensive, but it had everything we needed and was quiet during our visit. At one point, we even had it all to ourselves.
We didn’t have time for a treatment during our stay, but there is a long menu to peruse – from standard massages and facials, to more targeted offerings (such as a lifting/firming eye treatment).
The Moroccan mosaic-style jacuzzi
The heavenly foot massager
The two-AA Rosette-rated Somerset Dining Room at The Mount offers a very traditional experience – think crisp table clothes, high corniced ceilings, heavy drapes at the large sash windows and a huge crystal chandelier. We enjoyed both lunch and dinner here, sampling the selection of British dishes on offer. A highlight was the delicious slow cooked belly of Somerset pork and board of local cheeses. The views over the gardens and open countryside made it extra special, too.
If you’re after something lighter, the Garden Room, which leads directly on to the terrace, is the place for afternoon tea. We also enjoyed pre-dinner drinks here.
The Somerset Dining Room
OUT AND ABOUT
We drove to romantic Dunster Castle in Minehead, a former motte and bailey castle that’s now a country house located in picturesque Dunster village.
It took us just under an hour to reach from the hotel, but was definitely worth the drive. After exploring the grand castle and grounds, we whiled away the afternoon on the high street and ducked into the upmarket boutiques and tea rooms.
If you fancy stretching your legs further, you’re right on the edge of the Exmoor National Park at Dunster, which has some lovely walks. And if you’re after a coastal stroll, head to the beaches at Minehead.
The standard rooms in the older part of The Mount are on the small side. Make sure you book a Standard Deluxe room in the new extension, or a Garden Deluxe room, to avoid disappointment.
TAKE ME THERE…
The Mount Somerset offers 19 rooms (two with private outdoor hot tubs) and overnight stays start from £125 per room (two sharing), including full English breakfast and access to the Elan spa.
Author: Kirsty Nutkins
Kirsty is an experienced journalist and travel writer, currently working on a national newspaper supplement as Features and Travel Editor. She is the founder of TravelLuxe.co.uk.