Great British boltholes: A review of No 1 Bruton hotel, Somerset


A chef who got a Michelin star at 24 and a ‘gorgeous’ interior: Inside the hip new place to stay in the Somerset town they call ‘the Notting Hill of the West’

  • No 1 Bruton is housed in a Grade II listed building in Bruton, which has boho shops and art galleries
  • It has an elegant interior that blends original Georgian fireplaces and wooden floors with modern artwork 
  • The restaurant is presided over by Merlin Labron-Johnson, formerly of London’s Michelin-starred Portland 

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They call it the Notting Hill of the West, this sleepy Somerset town where tractors frequently rumble down the narrow High Street. A closer look tells you why: Bruton is lined with boho shops, selling just the kind of thing for artsy locals such as TV and radio presenter Mariella Frostrup and fashion designer Alice Temperley.

Catering to the creatives are some superb restaurants, while ten minutes’ walk away is the art gallery Hauser & Wirth, whose 2014 opening put Bruton on the map.

Now there is a hip new place where you can stay in town too – No 1 Bruton, named after its address on the High Street. And rather lovely it is too, with its yellow door opening on to an elegant interior that blends original Georgian fireplaces and wooden floors with modern artwork and artefacts.

Distinctive: No 1 Bruton’s yellow door opens on to an elegant interior that blends original Georgian fireplaces and wooden floors with modern artwork

Arty: You can buy pretty much anything you see in the hotel

Arty interior: You can buy pretty much anything you see in the hotel

The Grade II listed building has had a chequered past, most recently as a hardware emporium but also as a coaching inn and forge. It was here that the decorative ironwork for the curlicue staircase leading to five bedrooms in the main building was created. Local girl Claudia Waddams runs the hotel with husband Aled Rees, and wanted it to ‘feel like you were coming to stay in someone’s house’.

A trio of cottage rooms also open on to the Penelope Hobhouse-designed courtyard garden.

My bathroom is gorgeous, with a clawfoot bath and a candy-striped shower, its pinks replicated in the wall lights and chair. 

The enormous pink-and-green bedroom features an impressive pearl-inlaid chest bought in Syria by Claudia’s mother, a former fashion editor.

Actually, it is Claudia’s family and friends who helped make this place so special. The small reception area and rhubarb-pink sitting room are embellished with a Venetian mosaic mirror by her godmother, artist Candace Bahouth, a rainbow leather chair by Bill Amberg, who also designed the key fobs, and photographs by another local, photojournalist Sir Don McCullin.

The restaurant, Osip, is just as stylish, presided over by Merlin Labron-Johnson, who gained a Michelin star at London’s Portland restaurant in 2015 when he was just 24. You will see why as you tuck into the menu – much of the produce is from his own allotment.

The Grade II listed building has had a chequered past, most recently as a hardware emporium but also as a coaching inn and forge

The Grade II listed building has had a chequered past, most recently as a hardware emporium but also as a coaching inn and forge

Local girl Claudia Waddams runs the hotel with husband Aled Rees, and wanted it to ¿feel like you were coming to stay in someone¿s house¿

Local girl Claudia Waddams runs the hotel with husband Aled Rees, and wanted it to ‘feel like you were coming to stay in someone’s house’

Heavenly headquarters: Jane says No 1 Bruton is the perfect base from which to explore Somerset

Heavenly headquarters: Jane says No 1 Bruton is the perfect base from which to explore Somerset

Bruton locals include TV and radio presenter Mariella Frostrup and fashion designer Alice Temperley

Bruton locals include TV and radio presenter Mariella Frostrup and fashion designer Alice Temperley

Memories of a meal here will last a long time, but for a more physical souvenir you can buy pretty much anything you see in the hotel, including the mosaic mirror – yours for a cool £5,500.

The rooms: Pick from the opulent, Georgian style in the main building or the rustic courtyard cottages.

The food: Expect surprises – canapes might include nasturtiums with pig’s head, a duck main dish comes with elderberry and beetroot taco, and there is black treacle and stout bread. Sadly, breakfast is continental rather than cooked.

The USP: Great food, cool design, and the perfect base from which to explore Somerset.  

TRAVEL FACTS 

No 1 Bruton, Somerset. B&B from £150 a night. For more information visit numberonebruton.com.

 

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