Klaxon alert: what's new and happening in Somerset and Dorset this Autumn.
Artist Residence, Bristol
The boutique hotel group Artist Residence (with hotels in London, Brighton, Oxfordshire and Penzance) finally opens the doors of its newest hotel – in the West Country. Centrally located in a listed Georgian town house and former boot factory in St Paul’s – a few minutes from Cabot’s Circus and Stokes Croft – the 23-bedroom hotel describes itself as an ‘eccentric home from home’. Each room or suite, from the small and perfectly formed ‘Broom Cupboard’ to the posh ‘Merchants Suite’, is individually decorated, with artworks on the wall (natch), vintage/reclaimed furniture and all mod cons including rainfall showers, Nespresso coffee machine and smart TVs. When you’re not emptying your mini bar you can hang out downstairs with breakfast, coffee or booze in The Library.
East Quay, Watchet
Love it or hate it? The brand new East Quay arts venue in Watchet on the Somerset coast is causing a bit of a storm amongst the locals. The somewhat controversial building, designed by Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio and Mark Anstey of Ellis Williams Architects, houses two contemporary art galleries with a constantly changing programme of exhibitions, a cool cafe/restaurant (Middle Eastern, Mediterranean with masses of veggie and vegan dishes from 8am to late) and a shop, plus artist studios, paper mill, geology workshop, print studio, education space and quirky accommodation pods. Run by Onion Collective CIC, a Watchet-grown, female-led, not-for-profit social enterprise, East Quay is open for music, theatre, art, workshops, courses, film nights – or just lunch – all year round.
Lo Rapitenc, Frome
So new they haven’t got their website up and running properly yet, Spanish deli and tapas bar Lo Rapitenc on Cheap Street, is already proving muy popular with Froomies. Nosh on traditional tapas – mini morcilla, jamon Iberico, boquerones, patatas bravas, tortillas, croquetas – with vegan and veggie options, and all sorts of Spanish foods to take away and cook at home. The owner Marc Brunet Pascual comes from the Catalonian town of La Ràpita (residents are known as Rapitenc or Rapitenca, hence the name) and takes his inspiration from his fisherman grandad, who ran a bar serving tapas and the local dishes of Arroz and Fidua.
Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Evershot
First, huge congrats to the fabulous Dorset hotel for just being named the number 5 top hotel in the whole of the UK in the 2021 Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards. Second, read our review and book yourself in for a stay, dinner or afternoon tea to see why the accolade. (Spoiler: it’s really rather wonderful).