Ready for an autumn mini break where you can eat extremely well, explore beautiful landscapes and have some post-pandemic fun? Trencherman’s editor Jo Rees handpicks a few special destinations across the South West that’ll fit the bill. Which one ticks your boxes?
This summer it’s been impossible to get a booking for a stay at any of the good foodie hotels outside of the city, but October should be a little less crowded (with the exception of half term) while November, which is traditionally extremely quiet on the bookings front, could be this season’s golden opportunity. Reframe it as an opportunity to wrap up and go for blustery stomps on the beach and over the moors, and to feast on excellent cooking by a crackling log fire.
Cities which are popular with tourists, such as Bath and Exeter, are fabulous right now for British holidaymakers: you can get a table at most restaurants without having to book three weeks in advance and there’s just that bit more room to move. So take the opportunity, while the cities are not so rammed, to support the restaurants and foodie hotels and escape to Trencherman’s County on an autumn city-break.
Want a head start and some personal recommendations from a team that’s visited pretty much every decent restaurant in the South West? Here we go.
Creative cooking in the Cotswolds
We’re great fans of Matthew Beardshall’s intricate and creative menus, and at Wilder in Nailsworth in the Cotswolds he serves up eight-course tasting courses which are a complete surprise to diners – guests only find out what they’ll be eating when it arrives at the table. Matt is such an accomplished chef that it’s easy to feel safe in his capable hands (the restaurant holds three AA rosettes) and the experience is one of theatre and delight. Pair it with the accompanying wine flight (there’s a non-alcoholic flight too) then gently sway over the road to sister establishment Wild Garlic Rooms which includes cosy rooms and a couple of newly refurbished self-catering apartments.
A getaway to the lovely Wiltshire town of Devizes is a great base for an autumnal eatathon offset by lots of country stomps. Stay at The Peppermill Devizes and revel in all the treats that come with a five-star boutique hotel – but in a building that dates back to 1452. The hotel has a great food offering and a cracking bar list, while beyond its front door the town offers charming architecture, lots of independent stores and access to the rural Wiltshire landscape.
We love the relaxed yet top-notch experience to be had at The Queensberry Hotel in Bath. Sure, it’s got a Michelin-starred restaurant and the building is Grade II-listed, but owners Laurence and Helen Beere have created a hotel that’s a beacon of quirky informality rather than going down the more usual route of starched elegance. Naturally, the food is great – Chris Cleghorn is one helluva chef – and the bar’s a treat too. Trivial factoid: the hotel is named after the Marquess of Queensberry, the chap who established the Queensberry rules of boxing in the 19th century.
Seaside feasting in Dorset
The Seaside Boarding House (pictured top), which sits right by the beach in Burton Bradstock in Dorset, has been fully booked since it reopened after lockdown so it’s right up there on our getaway hit-list for when the summer’s buzz has abated. Casual New England-style vibes, a panoramic seascape, and great food and cocktails tick all the boxes. Make it a two-nighter and also dine at Three Horseshoes Pub & Kitchen, nearby. The charming golden-stone pub is home to seriously good cooking and an unusually creative yet casual seafood-heavy menu.
Spa by the sea in Devon
If you’re looking for ice fountains, plunge pools with sea views, a good pummelling on the massage table and early morning yoga followed by a surf, we recommend heading to Saunton Sands Hotel. The Art Deco building sits on the cliffs overlooking Saunton Beach like an elegant white ocean-going liner from days gone by, but contains all the contemporary treats you’d hope to find in a four-star hotel. Modern British dishes served in a beautifully elegant 1920s-inspired dining room provide the fuel for all that physical exertion.
We’ve done the research
For the 29 years, the Trencherman’s Guide has been the go-to guide for foodies seeking out exceptional places to dine and stay from Cornwall to the Cotswolds (discover the guide’s history), and as every inclusion in the guide (and on this website) meets the exacting criteria for inclusion (they’re all equivalent to two AA rosettes and above) you won’t need to worry about trying to sift out the decent places based on Tripadvisor research.
Get the guide
Want to discover more fabulous places for foodie escapes in Trencherman’s Country? Order your new copy of the Trencherman’s Guide now and revel in some armchair escapism and planning. The new guide costs just £9.99 and is crammed full of write ups and details on a hundred carefully chosen restaurants, foodie hotels and restaurants-with-rooms in the South West of England – from the Cotswolds to Cornwall. Establishments are invited into the guide on meeting strict and exacting quality criteria, to give readers total confidence in the carefully curated collection. Order it here.