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Hotel review: The Bath Arms in Horningsham, Wiltshire

An Inspector calls… at an 18th-century coaching inn on Lord Bath’s Longleat estate that exudes ‘character and romance’

  • 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… 

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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. 

The Bath Arms in Wiltshire underwent a transformation during lockdown, with much of its ivy facade stripped away

One of the bedrooms at The Bath Arms. The Inspector stayed in a room at the top of the house with a huge bathroom

One of the bedrooms at The Bath Arms. The Inspector stayed in a room at the top of the house with a huge bathroom

The Bath Arms has always been part of Lord Bath's Longleat estate, but various management teams have come and gone

The Bath Arms has always been part of Lord Bath’s Longleat estate, but various management teams have come and gone

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. 

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. 

A cosy lounge area within The Bath Arms, with dogs welcome to relax too

A cosy lounge area within The Bath Arms, with dogs welcome to relax too

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. 

The Inspector said the main dining room at The Bath Arms was 'beautifully lit, moody, tasteful'

The Inspector said the main dining room at The Bath Arms was ‘beautifully lit, moody, tasteful’

Some of the food on offer at The Bath Arms. The Inspector said that service was a little haphazard and that his wine was forgotten

Some of the food on offer at The Bath Arms. The Inspector said that service was a little haphazard and that his wine was forgotten

The Inspector said there was a big wait between his starter and main course, but that the dining room 'purrs in a way that only a happy restaurant can'

The Inspector said there was a big wait between his starter and main course, but that the dining room ‘purrs in a way that only a happy restaurant can’ 

A stunning drone image of Longleat house, with its mazes and finely trimmed lawns

A stunning drone image of Longleat house, with its mazes and finely trimmed lawns

The Bath Arms - 'the present Lord Bath must be thrilled to have all this on his doorstep'

The Bath Arms – ‘the present Lord Bath must be thrilled to have all this on his doorstep’

We move through into the main dining room, beautifully lit, moody, tasteful. 

Service is a little haphazard (our wine has been forgotten) and there’s a big wait between starter and main course, but the whole room purrs in a way that only a happy restaurant can. 

After breakfast, we admire the rows of lime trees at the front of the building, known as the Twelve Apostles, the magnificent lantern above the door and a tented area to the rear, perfect for distanced socialising. 

The present Lord Bath must be thrilled to have all this on his doorstep.   

TRAVEL FACTS 

The Bath Arms, Horningsham, Wiltshire, BA12 7LY. For more information call 01985 844308 or visit batharmsinn.com. Double rooms start from £100.

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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