Backwell House has opened its doors again following the easing of lockdown restrictions and we’re so happy to have it back because after visiting in November, this chic, Georgian country house hotel, restaurant and bar immediately became a firm favourite. Here are several reasons why we loved it and why you will too...
1. The feel of a hidden-away oasis
Nestled in the North Somerset countryside just outside the village of Flax Bourton, as soon as you head up the tree-lined driveway and catch a glimpse of the meadows and rolling hills on the horizon, you definitely feel your shoulders relax and the weight lifting from them. It’s as though you’ve stumbled on a secret pocket of tranquillity (even though you’re only 15 mins away from Bristol) and I couldn’t wait to explore the acres of gorgeous gardens surrounding my home for the evening.
First though, check in... and as the front doors swing open, that feeling of finding a special Somerset gem continues. The elegant reception, complete with sweeping staircase, beckons you in.
I could definitely imagine draping myself over that staircase at a private party!! ;)
Look skywards and the hanging ceiling installation catches the light and the eye, and I might’ve said a little hello to Backwell’s very own butler on the way in too... because this oasis is also packed with personality.
From bright and beautiful paintings, to a quirky teapot and wireless collection in the dining room and vintage suitcases in the reception window, there’s cool character in every corner. I love the thoughtful, imaginative and creative revamp of a property which dates back to 1817 - and the little touches certainly sets it apart.
2. Stylish bedrooms and bathtubs made for whiling away the hours
Talking of history, the rooms are named after some of the families who’ve owned Backwell House over the years and one is dedicated to W.G. Grace, who famously played cricket on the front lawn don’t you know!
My room was Hobbs (named after the current owners) and basically, it had me at ‘huge copper vintage bathtub’!
You know the feeling you get when you open your room door for the first time and that little flicker of excitement rises up when it’s more than you imagined? Hobbs definitely brings that! It was pretty tough to leave it to be honest, especially as my heart also skipped a beat when I saw the huge bed, dreamy waterfall shower and stunning sash windows flooding the room with light, and welcoming the garden and countryside views in.
As you’d expect, no detail has been overlooked and all 9 double ensuite bedrooms have been thoughtfully refurbished...
... so whether it’s reclaimed timbers creating contemporary character, a desk (made from original floorboards) with a view, beautiful paintings, creative lighting (I did spend a while checking out that pully detail!) or bubbles and fluffy robes you’re after, you’ll find it all right here.
And yes, ‘bee-ing’ happy definitely came easy. For me, Hobbs mixed luxury and comfort with a feeling of finding a home from home.
3. Gorgeous gardens to explore and admire
Eventually, I did manage to tear myself away and get out to explore the gardens, meadow and woodland walks beyond.
Head to the back of Backwell and you’ll find a a perfectly planted rose garden, plus a kitchen garden complete with the greenhouse of dreams! Check this out...
No trespassing though ;).
The garden itself is brimming with romance. There are some lovely places to sit and contemplate life, love and the universe, dotted around the little maze of hedging and flowers... and lots of nooks and crannies you’ll definitely want to take the time to discover and rediscover.
Stroll towards the back of the garden and out of the gate and you'll find a meadow opening up, alongside a twisty path to follow back to the house.
On the way, we discovered a tucked-away bench where we sat for a while and watched a whole host of birds flitting from tree to tree – a perfect place to take a moment and make memories.
4. The bar is a beaut!
Well, after a stroll round the gardens, there’s no better place for a G&T. Check out this one-of-a-kind bar. It's filled from top to toe with your favourite tipples, there's a cool cocktail list and guess what? When the house was recently refurbished, the old kitchen floor was cut up into tiny squares and used to create the counter.
Now that's the type of detail and story we love... upcycling at its finest!
As well as the funky bar, there's also a cosy lounge to make the most of and it's perfect for an evening in front of a roaring fire, if you ask me.
5. Flavour-filled fine dining
We were so looking forward to the food at Backwell House after not going out for dinner for a while due to lockdown, and it didn't disappoint. Head Chef, Andy Brooks, is creating wonderful dishes in the Backwell kitchen, using as much produce grown in the garden as possible and keeping it local and seasonal.
We started with Piquillo pepper and goats cheese arancini with sauce arrabbiata - the perfect combination of sweet pepper goodness and spicy arrabbiata kick - and followed it with Portabello mushroom, butternut squash and spinach wellington with piquillo parsnip and kale. It was a dreamy vegetarian main for me and a delicious wellington combo I hadn't had before, wrapped up in melt-in-the-mouth pastry.
Graeme went for the Fillet of hake with spiced borlotti beans, carvelo nero and salsa verdi and put it this way, not a crumb was left on the plate by the end!
And let's not forget dessert. When you can make a brownie look and taste as beautiful as this, you're definitely on to a winner! Feelgood food to round off a perfect day.
I have to give a shout out for the veggie breakfast of champions the next morning too! Feast your eyes on this...
... and whether it's the conservatory or dining room you choose for breakfast, you'll have more lovely views to choose from too, which leads us nicely on to...
6. Views, glorious views
I've shared the back gardens with you but the front of Backwell House is pretty special too.
The ha-ha is a nice touch... a sunken wall landscaped into the land, to give the impression of a sweeping sea of green when you look across to the valley beyond. There are plenty of tables where you can sit and drink it all in, on a sunny (or not so sunny) day.
7. The friendly feel
And finally, it would be easy for a country house like Backwell to feel a little bit stuffy, but one of the things I love about this gorgeous Somerset spot is that it's anything but. You're made to feel so welcome, there's a friendly feel to the whole house and the service is brilliant. If you're looking to escape to a private retreat that's warm and relaxing, as well as giving yourself a little slice of luxury, you've found it - come shine or rain!
Can you see why we'll be heading back to Backwell? All in all, it has it all and still feels like a Somerset secret. It definitely put a smile on my face and made me feel refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to go again!
Our view in three words: Relaxing, magical break