The Newt in Somerset has been one of the most hotly anticipated hotel openings in the UK this year. A stunning Georgian house, with breathtaking grounds to match, this is not just another 5* country getaway. It’s a unique concept, which embraces everything quintessentially British, along with cutting edge design, and contemporary style.
Directly linked with Babylonstoren, an established luxury boutique in the Cape Winelands, South Africa, The Newt enjoyed its grand opening at the end of August 2019, and has already received fantastic reviews within the media. While the hotel and immediate gardens remain private and exclusive for guests, the majority of the grounds have been opened to the general public, so that everyone has the opportunity to experience this beautifully cultivated landscape.
In September 2019, I was lucky enough to take part in ‘The Great Garden Escape’, a day that The Newt has created in partnership with GWR. These days ran every weekend throughout August and September, and with interest so high, they plan to relaunch in Spring 2020. The experience is currently £285 per person, and includes everything mentioned below.
Our day started bright and early on a Saturday morning, with a 7.15am meet at London Paddington, in the First Class Lounge. Here, we were met by The Newt team, and enjoyed tea and coffee, while waiting for our 8am train.
It’s here that the real experience begins. Boarding the first class carriage, we were met with tables fully laid with white cloth and silver cutlery. It’s a real throwback to when train travel was an experience, rather than an arduous, and often delayed mode of travel. During the hour and a half journey to Castle Cary, we were treated to a two course breakfast, and received a few bits and bobs that would be useful during our day. Most notable of these, was a map of the gardens, showing walking routes, as well as all of the different areas that we would visit. It was such a fantastic way to start, and really set the tone for what was to come.
On arrival in Castle Cary, we boarded a bus to the hotel, which took around 10 minutes. I’ve never been to this area of Somerset before, and I was immediately struck by how beautiful it was. Rolling hills, cute little cottages – it’s the countryside you dream of.
The first activity on our list was a garden tour, and this starts right from the carpark. The Gardens have a seperate entrance to the main hotel, and you walk through woodland on the ‘centipede’ walk, a winding wooden decking, hovering above the ground. The main building of the gardens has been built around a courtyard, with solid oak beams and local brick – no expense has been spared with this place and you can see that throughout the grounds.
The garden tour was really interesting, as the architect has really tried to create different zones – from the vegetable patch, to green houses of exotic plants, to the apple garden, which showcases apples from every corner of the country. It’s a pretty incredible collection, and I didn’t realise there were so many types!
When lunch came around, we headed to the Garden Cafe, and my word did we have a spread! Homemade apple juice, straight from the onsite apple press, wine from Babylonstoren, and seasonal food that, quite frankly, blew our socks off. Spiced cauliflower, braised beef, risotto, roast potato, butternut squash – the list was endless and I overate until I felt like I would pop. My favourite was dessert, a parsnip cheesecake, which you wouldn’t think would work, but oh boy did it!
The afternoon was equally as delightful, as we had a tour of the Cyder Press and distillery – top notch equipment worth tens of thousands of pounds, to make sure that the Cyder produced is as pure and as yummy as possible. We got to taste 6 Cyders, a mixture of pure and blends, from dry to sweet – it was pretty incredible how different each was, and I left feeling way more educated about a drink we often take for granted.
On the train back to Paddington, enjoying yet another 2 course meal for dinner, it was lovely to reflect on the day had, and just how incredible the Newt is. Quite frankly, I have never been anywhere like it and I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for the community to connect with nature, through all four seasons. In the spring and summer, I’d really recommend getting out of London and heading there for the day. Even if you don’t take part in the Great Garden Escape, it’s £15 per person to enter on your own steam, and for a day in the country, with gorgeous food and drink, it’s a small price to pay!
For more information about the ‘Great Garden Escape’, visit the Newt in Somerset directly here.