In Food

Sign of the Angel

A guest blog by Good Hotel Guide

Inspired by Wiltshire’s new food and drink map, the Good Hotel Guide has selected six of its favourite gastronomic experiences in the county and paired them with hotels that foodies will love.

1. An al-fresco weekend in Bradford on Avon

Pretty Bradford on Avon is packed with boutiques and galleries to explore, but make time to sit, eat and watch the world slip by on the town’s waterways too. The Lock Inn flutters with bunting and an easy-breezy attitude and is the perfect spot to watch colourful houseboats putter along the Kennet & Avon Canal. 

Stay: Start and end your weekend at Woolley Grange, a family-friendly Jacobean manor house on the edge of Bradford-on-Avon. On balmy summer days, get a table on the terrace and eat food plucked from the hotel’s extensive gardens, or ramp up the sophistication with candlelit fine dining before retiring to your cosy room.

Helen Browning's Royal Oak

2. Tea, books and a thatched inn

Once you’ve browsed Tisbury’s independent shops, while away a few hours in Beaton’s Tearooms & Bookshop. The décor, all elegant lines and bold splashes of colour, is inspired by society photographer Cecil Beaton (he used to live nearby) and everything in here has been carefully selected, from the 25 types of loose leaf tea to the books. Flick through speciality cookbooks as you nibble cakes that have been perfectly partnered to your brew.

Stay: In nearby Swallowcliffe, The Royal Oak channels a similarly stylish vibe, with a cool contemporary look and an interesting menu. The 18th-century thatched inn was brought back from the brink of demolition by a village consortium in 2015. Today, Good Hotel Guide readers consider it ‘charming, warm’ and ‘easily the most elegant and comfortable pub we’ve visited in many years of travel.’

King John Inn

3. A quirky museum and a pub-with-rooms

Visit Hillbrush, the UK’s only brush museum, follows the 95-year history of the Coward family’s brushware and hygienic cleaning tools business, from tiny factory to Royal Warrant holder. As well as the hands-on brushmaking museum, there’s an artisan coffee bar, a restaurant that serves locally sourced food, and a shop piled high with every kind of brush your home could ever need (the company makes 10,000 brushes a day), from sturdy brooms to grooming products. It’s surprisingly enchanting!

Stay: Thirty minutes’ away in Tollard Royal, King John Inn is a sophisticated yet unpretentious pub-with-rooms that dishes up modern, locally-sourced farm-to-fork meals. Feast on dishes such as lamb, fondant potato, ratatouille, then sleep it off in one of the pleasing, restful bedrooms – you might find some homemade shortbread to nibble on too.

Sign of the Angel

4. Learn to cook, then eat an expert’s meal

If you love food – eating it, growing it, ordering it – but aren’t so good at cooking it, book a lesson at The Farm Cookery School. Their range of adult classes are designed to help wannabe chefs master the basics, from bread and soup to knife skills, and break out of a cooking rut. Learn to make perfect gravy or host the best picnics and barbecues this side of winter.

Stay: Just in case your cooking attempts aren’t quite up to scratch, book a room at Sign of the Angel, a 15th-century coaching inn in the National Trust village of Lacock. Dine on chef/director John Furby’s sustainably sourced lunches and dinners – perhaps avocado panna cotta and king prawns or roasted spring lamb and smoked garlic – then retire to make notes/digest in the orchard garden or your charmingly quirky bedroom.

The Royal Oak

5. Designer shops and a working organic farm

Pick up top high street and designer brands at up to 60% off at McArthurGlen Designer Outlet near Swindon. One of Europe’s largest covered designer outlets, it’s in the Grade II-listed Great Western Railway Works. As well as shops such as Joules, Links of London and John Lewis Home, there are plenty of restaurants plus the STEAM Museum of The Great Western Railway.

Stay: In Bishopstone, Helen Browning’s Royal Oak is a village dining pub-with-rooms, on a working organic farm. It’s run by food ethics pioneer Helen Browning and the pub is a quirky, affable spot with real ales, organic wines and cordials, daily-changing menus using meat from the farm and produce from local villagers – and the annual International Pig Racing Festival! The inviting bedrooms are around the sunny courtyard.

The Three Daggers

6. A weekend of wine and beer

Pop along to Wiltshire’s largest vineyard for a tasting tour. a’Beckett’s Vineyard’s tasting tour covers the family-run vineyard’s year, the history of wine and, of course, the chance to sample their wines. The primary grape varieties are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, grown on about 10,000 vines on rolling chalk slopes similar to the terrain in the Champagne region. The views are beautiful. Stock up in the shop before you leave (they make cider and apple juice from Wiltshire’s last commercial orchard too).

Stay: In nearby Edington, The Three Daggers is a pub-with-rooms that attracts all sorts. Craft-beer lovers come for the artisanal brews from the on-site microbrewery; foodies flock to the well-stocked farm shop and popular dining room. The cool, modern-rustic bedrooms are lovely too.

Find more great hotels in Wiltshire and discover the spectacular county today! 

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