Why stay at the Farmyard at The Newt?
Because this hotel has not only rooted itself as one of the most glamorous countryside hangouts in the UK, but is also mainlining a self-sufficient, locally focused ethos in a way that is alluring rather than earnest. Plus, it’s in the most buzzing corner of the south-west, with Bruton, Glastonbury, Castle Cary and Frome on the doorstep.
Set the scene
With the arrival of the Farmyard, The Newt gains 17 extra bedrooms, which means you might get a booking before 2022. They are located in a set of elegantly repurposed 18th-century farm buildings on a neighbouring plot of land that South African owners Koos Bekker and Karen Roos had their eye on for some time. Now, of course, it feels as if it’s been part of the package forever – even though, sitting just over the road from the main house, it also feels entirely different. The threshing barn has been reimagined as an airy restaurant with soaring glass panels. The old granary is now an oak-clad temple to modernism designed by Richard Parr Associates with an accessible suite. It encompasses all that is great about British innovation at a time when celebrating what we have at home is so relevant. Expect to encounter a Rolodex of bright young things staying here, often spotted on boozy, late-night golf-buggy escapades across the estate.
Former editor of Elle Decoration South Africa, Roos oversaw the revamp of cow sheds into dreamy rooms, barns into indoor pools, deciding on the position of every deep-set sofa and curious light fitting along the way. Under effervescent general manager Andrew Foulkes, the team is a highly motivated gang, full of cheer and popping up like multitasking jack-in-the-boxes.
Picking your room is a blindfolded gamble. The website is deliberately coy so that surprises are discovered in person. Each space – from the Henry James- and Thomas Hardy-named bedrooms of the farmhouse (country classic with an urban edge) to the stables (Scandi smart) and the mill (Manhattan penthouse) – has an unexpected oil painting, a thrillingly large bathroom and plentiful slabs of marble and stone.
References to the history of the place, such as sliding barn doors, milk pails as lampshades and exposed beams, are everywhere. There’s nothing chintzy, not a curtain in sight, but the almost-industrial vibe is softened by the bleat of sheep in the wildflower fields outside.
Food and drink
The Farmyard’s Kitchen is certainly the least hushed of The Newt’s restaurants. It serves equally well as a thrumming hotspot for British locavore sharing plates, after which the party spills into the help-yourself Garner Bar in the courtyard, as it does for breakfasts of house-made granola, green juices and eggs and bacon.
Cyder plays heavily on the drinks lists – home-brewed, naturally. Sourdough uses fermented apple peels, gelato is made with garden strawberries and buffalo milk, and oysters come from Dorset’s Poole Harbour. Provenance is king.
Food is inevitably the focus of any outing. A 10-minute drive brings you to Bruton’s two newest thrills, Durslade Farm Shop and the Old Pharmacy deli, above. Or head a little further afield to The Clockspire in Milborne Port for Somerset fine-dining.
Anything left to mention?
Even though there’s no denying the low hum of the A-road that runs between the two parts of the hotel, once the apple orchards grow up, it should be more muffled. Overall, this feels like a fun, informal back door to The Newt from which you can tap into its deliciousness (the gorgeous spa, twinkly bar and direct path into the gardens).
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