The Old Bell Hotel, Malmesbury
This historic hotel in the heart of Malmesbury has had the funkiest refurb. We reckon you're going to love the glamorous interiors, classic food and expert cocktails.
This historical wisteria-clad building abutting the abbey dates from the 13th century, but inside it’s anything but fusty. A fabulous recent refurb is colourful and funky: luxe country house meets seriously cool restaurant & bar, in the way of the best private members clubs.
There’s stacks of humour and personality: giant giraffes in the lobby, reclaimed religious relics everywhere, extravagant flowers and quirky wallpapers, mixed in with the more trad antiques and velvet sofas. Then we met the new-ish Texan co-owner, Kim Hanks, who is clearly the source of this playfulness. Hanks brings a fresh, warm enthusiasm to the place and a passion for Malmesbury – both place and people – that lifts the whole operation. You get a sense of her willingness to get stuck-in, and her talent for hospitality.
There’s so much space here – the large dining room with its ceiling of hand-painted gold stars is just perfect for a celebration; three lounges and as many outside terraces, complete with pretty folly and view; a cool bar perfect for that cocktail.
They are passionate about their place in the community, and source from local suppliers whenever possible, from the artwork (including stunning new stained glass window behind reception) to the kitchen. The Saints & Sinners restaurant has a tempting menu, broadly modern British and could include honey & thyme duck breast, pumpkin risotto, stone bass in chive butter sauce. Indeed, in the way of the best hotels, they seem to do pretty much everything well, from the buffet breakfast to Sunday roasts and afternoon teas.
34 bright and airy bedrooms are super clean and fresh, with those eccentric little decorative touches you’ve come to expect here as soon as you’ve climbed the stairs.
They seemed to have reached a clever balance here: service is attentive yet not stiff, the atmosphere grand but not intimidating. We love it, can you tell? We’ll be booking in the next girls lunch here, for sure. Maybe we should stay over while we’re there….
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