Last weekend, I was invited to go to the Babington House for the night.
I was pretty excited. I’d read loads of good things, so I threw a few things in a weekend bag and went.
Babington is pretty “far out there,” tucked away in the English countryside near a town called Frome. The closest “big city” is Bath, about a 30-minute drive. Personally, what with teaching starting up, people coming back from holiday and a general feeling that summer was over, I was happy to nip away for a one night retreat.
Arriving a bit after 3pm and given an extensive tour of the grounds, we were then led up to our room. If you stay, I’d definitely recommend asking if you can be in number 6 in the house.
The rooms are spread in the main house and then through the 18-acre grounds (mostly close to the house, though, so don’t worry, you won’t be stuck out in a field or anything). But room 6 definitely has an amazing view. And if you don’t fancy sitting on the sun bed to look out at the pond, church and fields, you can just sit in the bath on the balcony and stare out, too.
The only thing I noticed during the tour- besides a celebrity sighting, which always makes me giddy- is the slightly forced casual air of the place. Babington is a five-star hotel AND members only club, so guests have to abide by the rules of club. You get a little card that doubles as a welcome and an admonition of the rules, which include dressing casually and not taking any photographs in the house. These two things seemed a bit contrary to me; but whatever. The grounds are so beautiful and the service is great, so if you can get past the fact that everyone is probably pretending to be more relaxed than they are, then I’d definitely recommend going.
After our tour, we sat out for a late lunch (order the cheese and tomato sandwich, it is simple but DIVINE) and a few cocktails (go for the St Basil the Elder, you won’t be disappointed) and stayed on for a few of the snacks laid out at 4pm, when the House serves a complimentary (and very yummy!) tea. There was good people watching- loads of kids playing while their parents lazed around on the sun beds, and lots of dogs loping around the pond. We then decided to take our own tour of the grounds, starting with a short and ill-conceived bike ride, as all the bikes were in a terrible, terrible state of repair…my handlebars almost came off in my hands!…
and then a walk around the pond and gardens.
We relaxed a little bit back in the room, taking a long bath and firmly deciding that if fate ever gave us a house of our own with enough room, we’d take away a bedroom in lieu of a bathroom with a clawfoot tub. Of course, we tried as many of the free Cowshed products we possibly could, squeezing them into the bath so it almost overflowed with bubbles!
After the bath, dazed and pruney, we walked to the spa for massages, and finished off the evening with a good (but not spectacular) dinner at the Orangery. Since you are pretty far out at Babington, you really have to eat all the meals at the House, but I’d say that lunch was much more impressive than my dinner of wood fired plaice and samphire. Perhaps its simply because I don’t eat much fish. The Orangery was beautiful, though. I wish I could have taken more pictures, but them’s the rules. After retiring to our room, we had a long, hot soak in the outside bath, looking up at the full moon and the stars.
The next morning it was pouring, which made it easier to excuse our laziness in ordering room service. The breakfast options were plentiful, which is good because that’s always my favorite part of staying in a hotel. I went for the eggs florentine, which did not disappoint…especially since I had them delivered to me in bed. At 11am, we received a cheeky call from reception reminding us that checkout was in an hour, so we threw everything back in our bags and headed home.
I liked my experience at Babington, although I’m not sure if I would go back if I’d had to pay full price for everything. It was extremely expensive, and although the amenities were awesome, the food was good, and the service friendly, it wasn’t so good that I was blown away, which I do feel I would have to be at the price point they charge. However, if you’re looking for a great country home to stay in for a weekend, and you have the cash to burn, you won’t go wrong with Babington!