The Old Bell Hotel, Malmesbury
Muddy says: Bed down for the night in this newly restored hotel in the heart of charming Malmesbury. It’s Britain’s oldest hotel, y’know. And it’s got a gin bar. Right, I’m moving in…
England’s oldest hotel (now there’s a USP) sits snuggly next to an ancient Abbey (home to the tomb of King Athelstan, first king of England) in the heart of historic Malmesbury. Recently restored to the height of English charm, like Cinderella, it now has its glad rags on and is ready to go to the ball. After a good snoop around, we’ve given The Old Bell a big Muddy tick for lovers of fantastic food and a good night’s kip in a stunning historic setting.
The hotel may be old (I’ve been advised not to read the ghost stories to my 7-year old before bedtime) but it is light and bright with some funky touches, while retaining its historic feel: the hooded stone fireplace downstairs is believed to be one of the first flue chimneys in England.
The Refectory is the place to celebrate a special occasion, or why not just let the chef work his magic and treat yourself to a slap up dinner? Modern British dishes include Warm Salt Beef and Goat’s Cheese and Walnut ‘Cheesecake’ for starters, followed by Pan Fried Rack of Lamb, Ribeye Steak and Slow Cooked Daube of Beef. Sunday lunch includes starters of Welsh Rarebit, Whisky Home Smoked Salmon, and Rabbit, Pancetta and Thyme Tortillini, with mains of Roast Beef Sirloin, Roast Chicken or 8-Hours Slow Cooked Pork Belly. Not a meat eater? I’ve got my eye on the Roast Sage and Nut Crusted Cauliflower Steak. Top tip – leave room for dessert. They’ve got the best sticky toffee pudding around!
You won’t have to stagger far for a good night’s sleep – upstairs are 34 luxe bedrooms, prettily decorated, from Cosy rooms to huge Master Suites that would make even the snootiest Lord of the Manor nod his approval. Our Muddy noses certainly sniffed out a romantic haven here, perfect for lovers of luxury, yet no need for a boot full of wellies as you’re in a bustling town centre.
If that’s not enough, book in for a Cinephile Dinner and then head off to Movies@Malmesbury for a flick, join a glitzy jazz soirée or…wait for it…coming up is a Gin Garden Party which includes unlimited gin tasting. Oh, go on then. You’ve twisted my arm.