No matter how many pictures you might’ve seen of The Newt, nothing quite does justice to this magical dreamland, nestled in the Somerset countryside, an easy few hours’ drive west from London. Perhaps it’s the proximity to the mystical circle of boulders at Stonehenge, just 30 miles away, but there is something otherworldly about the 800-acre estate, which opened back in 2019 with guest accommodation in the beautifully reimagined Grade II-listed Georgian pile, Hadspen House, the former home of the Hobhouse family.
Brand new this summer is the Farmyard – a 17-bedroom offshoot that’s connected to the main house by a half-a-mile-long track which curves through fields of just-planted apple trees and under the A371. You can walk, jog or borrow a bicycle to make the journey, but by far the most fun is to pop your room key into the ignition of one of the electric golf buggies that are lined up neatly in a circular shed, for guests to commandeer at leisure.
During our visit to the Farmyard it was all blue skies, vibrant green lawns and borders of wild summer flowers – the perfect backdrop to an assortment of converted buildings, including an old stable, granary and cheese barn, plus a striking new ‘grain store’ by the architect Richard Parr. Our room – Far From the Madding Crowd – was a former sitting room of the main farmhouse, now spruced up with a king-sized bed covered in crisp white linens, a hidden bar complete with complimentary local gin and bottles of The Newt’s own cyder, and the most incredible bathroom with a freestanding tub, cool stone floor and blackened bronze fittings. We were greeted with a copy of the novel itself and a bowl of fresh and juicy Somerset strawberries, which I immediately took to the roomy window seat, looking out over the flowerbeds and fields beyond.
After a little stroll around we discovered the Pool Barn, whose bright red loungers are just the place to lie in the sun after a few laps of the pool or a blissful soak in the giant, cedarwood jacuzzi under roof beams crafted by local artisans. Then there’s the Garner Bar – a standalone building with a help-yourself ethos that applies to the freshly baked afternoon cake and to a plethora of spirits and cocktail ingredients, so you can rustle up an Old Fashioned at whatever time of day you please. Velvet sofas, a wood-burning stove and a retro table football game add to the playful vibe, and it’s a great spot to sit and chat with other residents.
And a special mention has to go to the food and team in the restaurant – the Farmyard Kitchen. We started each day with a basket of croissants, straight from The Newt’s own bakery – hands down the best I’ve ever tasted in my life, with an excellent flaky-to-squidgy ratio and layers of buttery pastry. You could also pick and mix from a list of ingredients including eggs, black pudding, sausages, bacon and more to create your own ultimate fry-up, and there were veggie options as well, such as overnight oats and fruit compotes. By night, the double-height room took on a sultrier look with candles on the copper-topped tables and moonlight glistening in through the floor-to-ceiling glass. Every dish we tried was completely delicious, and all made the most of ingredients from the estate’s well-established kitchen gardens.
While you’d be perfectly happy never leaving the Farmyard, it would be a shame to miss the additional enchantments over at the main hotel, from a game of croquet on the lawn to cocktails in the bar listening to live jazz music, followed by a sophisticated dinner in The Botanical Rooms. Those looking for some R&R should book in for a morning in the spa, where amazing therapists use herbs picked from the gardens outside in your treatments and there’s an indoor-outdoor pool to float in, plus a sauna, steam room and halotherapy chamber to unwind even further. Afternoons can be spent walking and admiring the Patrice Taravella-designed landscaping, expanding your knowledge with a visit to The Story of Gardening (a fabulous sensory exhibition housed in a building across a thrilling aerial walkway), or feasting on super-fresh produce at the Garden Café.
And you absolutely must not miss the chance to join a cyder tasting with the charming cellar master Greg Carnell, which takes you through the process from apple orchard to bottle, including a tour of the cyder press and sample of a few tasty varieties. It seemed to sum up the whole philosophy of the place – a celebration of the delights of Somerset that have been lovingly refined through a modern lens and which will capture the imagination of everyone who is lucky enough to visit.
Doubles at the Farmyard start at £950 for two nights* on a B&B basis.
Based on two sharing, the rate also includes access to wider estate as well as a 12-month membership to visit the gardens. *minimum two-night stay.
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