Here at Life As Alice, I LOVE to hear about other people's amazing holiday's and share them with you mainly because I know you're all as nosey as me but also because it means that you can get inspiration for trips for yourselves. I do love to hear from you all so if you do book anything you read about on here, do let me know via the contact page or in the comments sections below each post.
Here is the lovely story about Ewan and his wife and their UK break in Somerset... Proving you don't have to board a plane to find a bit of Italian Beauty.
Almost three years ago my wife and I escaped to The Amalfi Coast on our honeymoon. We stayed at the most amazing hotel overlooking the rugged Italian coastline and its azure blue seas, and we swore that we’d never tell anyone about it because it was just so good. Since then we’ve broken that promise, but only to a very few select friends.
Recently, we escaped to another gem of a hotel, not in Italy this time, but on the edge of Exmoor. It pains me a little to let the hotel’s name slip because it was just so fantastic. However, unlike our secret on the Amalfi Coast, this hotel can be shared because we can take short breaks there, it has 28 rooms (unlike the six of our Amalfi escape), and it’s easy to get to – no flights required.
The name?… The Luttrell Arms Hotel in Dunster.
Why so special? Where to start!
First, I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in a bedroom that’s quite so large, quite so grand and quite such good value. I’m not going to say which room it was as I want to keep that a secret, nor am I going to spill the beans on the price in case my wife ever reads this. However, whatever figure you think of, it feels it should be a lot more – just don’t tell the hotel.
Why was the room so special? Well, quite simply it brought back wonderful honeymoon memories. The four-poster bed was gorgeous, the period features were fantastic - including a hidden coat of arms - and the furnishings were beautifully finished (so my wife says, and she knows). A carved stone doorway led through to a separate reading room with exquisite views of the ancient Yarn Market and the splendid Dunster Castle. It had a generous seating area for drinks – champagne of course. It also had a lovely bathroom, which I’m told is going to have a complete make-over in time. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but once done we’re certainly going back.
Enough of the room; I don’t want to give too much away in case it becomes hard to book.
What was particularly special about this hotel was the care and attention given to us by the staff - so friendly, so lovely, and so helpful. No, really…noting was too much trouble. You don’t get this sort of service from chain hotels. Yes, it’s privately owned.
For me, being a bit of a country boy, I loved the quiet. I also really appreciated the fact that the mobile phone signal was virtually non-existent. Like many I’m a very busy person, so the thought of being in the UK but uncontactable was rather special.
Before anyone expires frothing at the mouth at the thought that you’re cut off from Twitter and Facebook and email , it does have WiFi and landlines too. So, if you must log on you can, and if you want to let the important few know where you’re staying, you can be called.
For us, for one night and a day, we rather liked the feeling of total escapism. Somehow all the stress of modern life just slipped away. It felt like stepping back in time to a quieter more sedate world with charm, character and time on our hands. What a treat, and that meant we could concentrate on us, and us alone – bliss.
The Hotel itself is really lovely. It’s medieval – goes back to the 13th century apparently and rather unbelievably once had the sea lapping at its doors. Today the sea’s over a mile away. Sceptic that I am I thought this must be one of the tales for the tourists, but it was called the Ship Inn and there are paintings in Dunster Castle showing the sea beneath, so I guess it’s true. Amazing what a few hundred years can do to a place.
So what’s so nice about the main hotel? For one the bars and the beer are fantastic. I like my ales and this is chocca-full of locally brewed beers, such as Exmoor Gold and serious ciders. It has open fires, pewter tankards hanging from beams, Stags antlers, intricately moulded ceilings, medieval carvings, a minstrel’s gallery surrounding a sun-trap courtyard and a very grand entrance.
Sure, it may not be to everyone’s taste, it’s not cutting edge, it’s not got glass everywhere or mezzanine levels, but it has been there for hundreds of years, and no matter how hard you look you’ll always find something new and fascinating to discover.
While we were there a local lad played the piano. I like that. The melodies wafted through the air creating a lovely atmosphere as we walked out to the secret garden. Yes, you read right, it has a secret garden.
We sat out and had a glass of very good gin and tonic. We could have eaten al fresco, but it was a little chilly that night and so we has our meal in the very lovely and stylish Psalter’s Restaurant. Try the fish. We had line-caught sea bass, which was sublime. We also had a melody of smoked fish to start with; yum! The puddings were very good too.
My wife’s a veggie and I love game, so I guess we both got a little of what we wanted (the gamefish was smoked loch Duart Salmon and smoked trout – all locally sourced). And, it also brought back memories of Amalfi, so well-known for its seafood dishes. That said next time, I’m going for the venison.
Ah yes, Dunster and its shops. If you’ve ever heard of Burnham Market you’ll know what my wife’s talking about. The shops are really lovely. You can buy designer clothes, leatherwork, stylish garden ornaments, swish clocks (not Swiss), original paintings by local artists, fudge (yes fudge!), wedding dresses (I know!), chic furniture, and, and well heaps more… It’s certainly enough to keep even the most fervent shopaholic busy. But what’s really nice is the fact that all the shops are housed within medieval buildings – they are welcoming, they are run by people who care, and they are willing to let you browse unpressured.
Final thing and that’s Dunster Castle and its gardens; seriously lovely. But you can read about that from the National Trust.
For more information about The Lutrell Arms please visit their website -
This was a guest post written by Ewan Davy - Photo Credits to Ewan Davy and Geograph UK