A traditional country pub and inn on the Wiltshire/Somerset border in south west England, the Bath Arms is an historic place to stay, brilliantly located for exploring the local area. It’s a fantastic family friendly hotel, with country pub cheer and understated luxury. And, of course, fabulous food.
I was invited to spend a night at the Bath Arms along with my husband Derek. Read on for my full review of the Bath Arms at Longleat!
The Bath Arms, Longleat
The Bath Arms is an historic building in the picturesque village of Horningsham on the Longleat Estate. The village of Horningsham has belonged to the Marquess of Bath since 1789, although the family had owned the village for several hundred years before the title was created.
The Bath Arms itself dates back to the 17th century and it’s been an inn and pub for most of its history, becoming a pub in 1732. As it was also an off license it’s been the hub of Horningsham for centuries! Today it’s back under Longleat management, and it makes a fantastic place to stay if you’d like to visit the Longleat estate with its Capability Brown – designed grounds and expansive safari park. There are also many more things to do in this area of Wiltshire and Somerset, and the Bath Arms is the quintessential country pub experience perfectly located for exploring.
How to get to the Bath Arms
The Bath Arms is easily reached by car from the nearby main towns Bath, Bristol and Salisbury, and it’s about two hours’ drive from London. I’d advise you to arrive by car if at all possible as you’ll need one to get around the local area. Horningsham is very picturesque, but also very small and so public transport is limited. You can of course get taxis but this option will end up being expensive.
However, if you’re using the Bath Arms as a base for visiting Longleat only, then you can get by without a car. If you’re arriving by train then Frome train station is the closest, with good connections from London and Bath. You can get taxis to the Bath Arms from Frome.
We had an easy drive to the Bath Arms from Gloucestershire, and it took us just over an hour. On arrival, we parked in the car park just off to the right of the pub (there is more parking on the road in front) and walked in through the front door through to the main bar. The front of the pub oozes history; the aged stones on the front of the building are is covered in an enormous vine in summer, and the entrance hall has a stone floor and cosy fireplace.
Despite being early, we were able to check in immediately and we were shown to our room straight away. I thought we’d have to wait for another hour or two, so this was very welcoming! We were able to look around and settle in before heading down to the bar for lunchtime.
Accommodation at the Bath Arms
The Bath Arms is deceptively spacious. There are 15 rooms inside, and four different categories of room. All of the rooms are ensuite and come with a coffee pod machine, bluetooth radio and large TV and DVD player. The Classic Rooms can accommodate two people in either a double or twin beds. Club Rooms have double or king sized beds, and can also accommodate an extra bed for a child. Superior Rooms and Four Poster Rooms can sleep two adults and two children, have king-sized beds and usually a large bath in the bathroom.
Due to the age of the property, there are lots of little staircases, nooks and corridors and none of the rooms are the same. This all adds to the character and feeling of history in the pub.
We stayed in one of the four Superior Rooms; Fallow. This room is up on the first floor, above the dining room. It’s a light and bright room, with plenty of sun pouring in through the dual aspect windows. There are views out over the courtyard and gardens from one window, and out across the countryside from the other. As this room is towards the back of the property, there was absolutely no noise from outside while we were staying. Horningsham is a very quiet hamlet and I can’t imagine that there’s much noise in any of the other rooms, either.
Like the rest of the inn, Fallow is warm and welcoming. Its off-white walls are complemented by subtle decor in terracotta and gold tones on the bedding and the blinds at the windows. There is an Indian theme running through the hotel and this flows into Fallow too; the beaten-gold side tables and delicately embossed chest of drawers are set off by the beautifully carved headboard which has figures dancing across it.
The king-sized bed in Fallow is super comfortable. The cotton sheets are high quality and the mattress supportive but soft to the touch. The thick fabric blinds in the room kept out all of the light. It goes without saying that we had a very restful night, and I was very glad I didn’t have to get up early the next morning to do the school run for once – we were treated to a lie-in.
In addition to the coffee machine, bluetooth radio and TV set (standard in all rooms at the Bath Arms), a Superior Room comes with fluffy white dressing gowns and slippers. Leave your hairdryer at home too, all rooms have one, and we also found water and cookies in the room.
The bathroom in Fallow is also bright and while it’s not a huge room, the designers have made the most of the space, especially with regards to the large rainfall shower. Toiletries by Noble Isle are provided, along with fluffy white towels and bath mat. Extra lighting and a large mirror makes this bathroom convenient for getting ready and doing makeup.
Bar and Restaurant at the Bath Arms
The bar at the Bath Arms has a warm, welcoming and traditional feel to it. I liked the layout of the ground floor; there are lots of little interconnected rooms which add to the cosy and historic feel to the inn. The main bar area, which also doubles as the hotel reception, has several tables and places to sit or stand; doors leading outside to the back garden and entry to the dining room. In the colder months there’s an open fire here – perfect for warming up after a brisk walk!
Through an archway to the left is another smaller rooms with tables and chairs, leading to another large room which also has a bar area and plenty of seating. These rooms all have a very British pub feel to them, relaxed, friendly and comfortable.
The bar itself is very well stocked and offers a wide selection of draught and bottled ales, ciders and lagers. I’d recommend trying one of the local brews from Wessex Brewery, but you’re bound to find something to suit your tastes! If you’re not into beer or cider, then there’s an extensive wine list with a choice of whites, reds and roses from around the world. For those with a special occasion to celebrate, the Bath Arms also serves a selection of fine champagnes and prosecco. And if you don’t drink alcohol then there are a range of soft drinks and coffees available.
The main restaurant room at the Bath Arms was my favourite room in the hotel. This is where the Indian theme is at its strongest, although it’s mixed in with a traditional English feel too so it’s not overly done.
Glass peacock wall lights illuminate the room, which is decorated in terracotta, with gilt paisley wallpaper and matching curtains. This is offset by beautifully ornate chandeliers and a gilt mirror above the traditional fireplace. There are English touches too – like the stag on the mantel, and nothing’s too ostentatious!
Food at the Bath Arms
The Bath Arms serves food practically all day. You don’t need to be a guest to eat any of your meals here, but you should definitely book a table in advance so you’re not disappointed (even for breakfast). There are specific menus for kids, for Sunday lunches and special occasions as well as for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Vegetarians (like myself) are catered for with several options on each menu.
The food is locally sourced wherever possible; all meat comes from a local butchers and the coffee and some of the ales are produced in the area. The menu changes according to the seasons, so you won’t always be offered the same fare.
Lunch at the Bath Arms
We were lucky enough to experience all three meals at the Bath Arms during our stay. We arrived early and decided to grab lunch in the pub before we headed out for the afternoon.
Lunchtime is a more relaxed and casual affair than dinner, and light meals like sandwiches and soups are on offer in addition to larger meals. While I was tempted by the vegetarian burger that was on the hot menu I decided that I’d better save my main meal until the evening!
Instead I opted for a charred leek and smoked Applewood cheddar sandwich. This arrived hot, the generous amount of cheddar melting over the sides of the warm focaccia bread. The leek and mango chutney went perfectly with the strong cheese. The husband chose a steak sandwich which came with caramelised onion and horseradish. Both sandwiches had crisps and salad on the side. While I didn’t try Derek’s sandwich, he assured me that it was great.
Plates emptied, we headed out to nearby Frome for the afternoon – a pretty little town with lots of independent shops and worth looking around. Read on until the end of the post where I’ll share the best things to do around Longleat.
Dinner at the Bath Arms
After visiting Frome for several hours we had enough time to relax a bit back at the hotel before heading downstairs for dinner that evening. This time we ate in the dining room which was beautifully lit for the evening. Dinner is more formal than lunch but service was prompt and friendly at all times. The menu has mainly traditional British offerings – but think gastropub, with more finesse than a simple pub meal.
We went for a three course meal; to start I had soup and the husband went for an assortment of breads and dipping oils. Everything was freshly made and the bread was warm from the oven. My soup was cream of tomato, with an oil garnish. It was immensely satisfying and perfect for a cold day in early spring. The portions were generous; I had to help the husband finish his bread!
For my main course I chose a golden beetroot and pea risotto. My rice was perfectly cooked with just the right amount of bite to it. The sauce was creamy, with an earthiness from the golden beetroot offset by the sweetness of the peas, and a subtle tang of lemon. It had a very springlike feel to it! I also ordered some mash potato on the side, and this was rich, smooth, and buttery – perfect.
Derek chose an Indonesian chicken curry, flavoured with cardamom, green peppercorns and green chillis. It was served with saffron rice on the side, and garnished with Thai basil and limes. According to him, it was a very fresh tasting dish, with a light warm sauce and tender chicken.
We paired our main course with a house red, a Merlot, which was very drinkable.
Despite being fairly full by this point we absolutely had to have dessert. We both chose the creme brûlée which was sublime. This was not a straightforward brûlée; this one had a berry layer underneath the custard and the dessert was paired with a sharp orange sorbet to cut through the sweetness. A shortbread biscuit added crunch and extra texture.
I also ordered a fabulous Seville coffee to go with my dessert – this turned out to be a good choice as it went particularly well with the orange sorbet.
Unsurprisingly we were incredibly full afterwards – what a fantastic meal we had!
Breakfast at the Bath Arms
We had a leisurely start to our morning (still sleeping off the previous night’s meal!) but as the Bath Arms serves breakfast until 10am we didn’t see any need to rush. In the main bar area there’s a cold buffet of mini pastries (croissants, pain au chocolat), bread for toasting, cereals, juices and fruit – just help yourself. You can order a pot of tea or coffee at the bar or at your table.
We grabbed a few pastries and headed through to the dining room where there was butter and jam waiting on the table. If you’re in the mood for more than a continental breakfast, then you’re in luck. There’s a large hot breakfast menu, including full English options. We were still too full from the meal the night before so we didn’t dare order a full English, but a bacon sandwich for the husband and an eggs florentine for me were just right.
Again, everything was freshly made and the eggs were poached to perfection with hot runny yolks. They didn’t come with too much spinach, either, and they were served with just the right amount of Hollandaise sauce.
Gardens at the Bath Arms
The gardens at the Bath Arms are perfect for spending warm days and evenings in. There are several different seating areas; out the front of the building there’s an amazing seating area underneath a natural pergola of mature trees strung with fairy lights. This must be a stunning place to sit on a warm summer’s evening – sadly early March was not the best time for it! There are extra picnic tables on the large footpath outside the Inn.
A much larger patio with plenty of seating is found at the back of the Bath Arms, which you enter through the main bar area. In addition to the patio, there’s a large lawn with picnic tables which is perfect for kids to play in, away from other patrons.
Summertime at the Bath Arms is an especially fun time to visit as the whole kitchen moves outside for the season. A large awning is put up and the pizza oven springs into action – perfect for families (or pizza obsessives, like myself!). I think we’ll be making a return trip in the summer to take a look at this!
Is the Bath Arms family friendly?
Families are welcomed at the Bath Arms. Although we didn’t bring our kids when we stayed, we saw plenty of things that marked the Bath Arms out as family friendly.
If you book a superior or four poster room then up to two children can be accommodated in extra beds – you just need to add your children on the booking form. If you have one child then you’ll be able to stay in a Club room.
Children are also welcome in the Bar area – and there were lots of highchairs provided for little ones. There’s a specific kids’ menu too. In the summer months, kids will love the pizzas from the pizza oven outside, and there’s a large grassy area at the far end of the gardens that’s perfect for them.
Things to do near the Bath Arms
The Bath Arms is in a fantastic location, right on the Somerset and Wiltshire border. This area is known for its natural beauty and also has plenty of interesting towns and cities to visit. The Bath Arms makes the perfect base for exploring these destinations.
The most obvious thing to do nearby is to visit the fabulous Longleat Estate. Here you’ll find a large safari park and zoo as well as the Longleat Manor House. It’s the perfect place for families to explore, and an especially magical time to drop in is during the Longleat winter illuminations.
Nearby Bath is one of the UK’s best cities (and definitely the most beautiful). Bath’s Georgian architecture is second to none and it’s got a wealth of museums – you’re bound to find one to suit your interests. My top picks go to the Roman Baths Museum, the Jane Austen Centre and No1 The Royal Crescent. Find out how to spend a weekend in Bath here.
Some of the UK’s most dramatic scenery is found a few miles away at the stunning Cheddar Gorge. The walks along the top of the gorge are some of the best in the UK, and the museums and inside the caves are fascinating for older children. Younger kids will love the attractions at the family friendly Wookey Hole caves, just along the road. Click here to find out if you should visit Cheddar Gorge or Wookey Hole (although I recommend both!).
Two of the south west’s prettiest towns are in this area too. While we were staying at the Bath Arms the husband and I visited Frome, which is a lovely little place with quirky hillside streets full of independent shops. You should check out Catherine Hill and Cheap Street’s shops if you decide to stop by.
Near to Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole is the city of Wells; England’s smallest city. Wells has enough things to do to fill up an afternoon or more, and it’s one of our recommended destinations in this area. Read about what to do in Wells here.
We recommend the Bath Arms
We had a fantastic stay at the Bath Arms. Everything was great, from the friendly service we received from everyone, to the peaceful night spent in our lovely room. All of the food we had was delicious, and the dining experience was relaxed but professional. We’d love to go back in the summer to take full advantage of the beautiful gardens and the outside kitchen!
The hotel is well located to explore the surrounding area, especially Longleat, Cheddar Gorge and Bath. You can also buy a package ticket to Longleat House at the Bath Arms which is very convenient.
We highly recommend a stay at the Bath Arms at Longleat!
Address: The Bath Arms, Horningsham, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7AY
Telephone: 01985 844 308
Disclaimer: I was invited to spend a night at the Bath Arms, which included food and soft drinks, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced by anyone else.