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Hotel Highlights

  • Delicious food inspired by the River Cottage Canteen
  • The crowd-pleasing pub and its buzzy, friendly feel
  • Historic Wells and Glastonbury close by

Overview

Popular culture casts swans as calm and unruffled, with a lot going on under the surface. The Swan Wedmore hotel in Somerset is no different. Staff are young and interested, the head chef is fresh from a stint at River Cottage Canteen, the bar has a buzz, and rooms are romantic – graced with neutral hues, French furniture, and beds and baths that will have you disrobing in no time.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Swan Wedmore with us:

A full-size Bramley bath product of your choice

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

Six.

Check–out

11am, but flexible subject to availability (no charge). Earliest check-in, 11am.

Rates

Double rooms from $80.41 (£50), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast (full English).

Also

Caffeine-fiends will be grateful for the jar of freshly ground coffee and the accompanying cafetiere; sweet-tooths will enjoy demolishing the stash of old-fashioned candies. Have afternoon tea in the restaurant: home-made cakes and brownies, artisan teas and top-notch coffee.

At the hotel

Gardens, library, stash of DVDs and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, iPod dock, coffee-making facilities, minibar and Bramley bath products. All the bathrooms have underfloor heating.

Our favourite rooms

The three Big Rooms are exactly that, their soft grey, cream and stone hues enlivened with rich berry accents. French furniture, stately six-foot beds and cast-iron claw-foot bath tubs up the ante. The pick of the bunch is Big Room One, which has a bath by the bedroom window, so you can spy on the Wedmore-ians while you soak. Ornithologists will enjoy the vivid bird-print wallpaper in Medium Room Four.

Packing tips

Leave room in your case for fruity-fragranced Bramley body lotion and bubble bath, which are sold at reception. Bring your Barbour and binoculars for country roaming.

Children

Welcome. Cots are free, extra beds can be added for £20 (including breakfast), and babysitting with a local nanny is £8 an hour (ask at least a week in advance). There’s a kids' menu in the restaurant.

Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

Head chef Tom Blake and sous chef Josie learned their craft at the River Cottage Canteen, famed for its panache with simple, seasonal British ingredients. You’ll find the same culinary integrity at the Swan. Sample dishes include: potted pig on toast with gherkin and mustard salsa, and bubble and squeak cake with a fried duck egg and parsnip puree. Style-wise, the main details are: hefty wooden tables, antique tapestries and a striking chandelier crafted from an abundance of lampshades. The restaurant is closed on Sunday evenings (bar snacks are available), and books up quickly, so make reservations asap.

Hotel Bar

Budding barmen (and lovers of fine ale) will fit right in at the Swan, whose heart is definitely in the bar. There’s a weekly signature cocktail, a host of local brews, and enough wine and spirits to keep you carousing ’til sunrise (if it weren’t for that big bed beckoning).

Last orders

Breakfast on plump sausages and melt-in-the-mouth black pudding between 8am and 11am on the weekend (7.30am–11.30am during the week); enjoy lazy, boozy lunches between 12pm and 3pm; dine under the striking lampshade chandelier between 6pm and 10pm.

Room service

None, although there are spiced nuts, olives and addictive Japanese rice crackers in big glass jars at the bar, an all-day bar menu, and cakes waiting to be sliced and munched from elevenses onwards. Rest assured, you won’t go hungry here.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Imagine you’re off to your local – jeans and jumpers won’t be frowned upon.

Top table

Sit tucked away on one of the sofas at the side and admire the flagstone floor and the boxed corkscrew collection, or watch the action at the bustling bar with a perch by the door. If you want first dibs on the freshly baked treats, sit by the cake stand.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

There are plenty of things to do nearby, including golf, fishing, riding, cycling, walking, pot-holing, abseiling, bird-watching, and – of course – willow-weaving. Just ask staff to point you in the right direction. We recommend doing a cheese or cider tasting at the Ethicurean (theethicurean.wordpress.com), mentioned above. Wells is only around 20 minutes by car, so it’d be a shame to miss the historic cathedral (there are also plenty of cafés, shops and restaurants, if religious relics don’t excite you). Alternatively, drive into Glastonbury (also a 20-minute drive), and admire the abbey, the Tor, and Gog and Magog (two ancient oaks). Wander around Wedmore itself (it won’t take long), looking at the village shops and snug pubs.

Local restaurants

The Pony & Trap on Knowle Hill in Chew Magna is cut from the same cloth as the Swan, boasting a Michelin-starred chef and a menu that courts carnivores. The lamb shoulder with sweetbread boudin, sautéed liver, roasted cutlets, aubergine and red-wine sauce piqued our interest (+44 (0)1275 332627; www.theponyandtrap.co.uk). Goodfellows (+33 (0)1749 673866) at 5 Sadler Street in Wells is a one-man-band of a restaurant: pop in for a pastry and coffee in the morning, generously priced lunch, tea and cake in the afternoon, or seafood feast after-dark. Dine downstairs in the round, and watch chef and owner Adam Goodfellows wrestle with shellfish. The Ethicurean in Wrington is the kind of joint we never want to leave: it has a bustling café, its own cheese school and even a cider barn (http://theethicurean.wordpress.com; +44 (0)1934 863713). They also host seasonal tastings – try the sherry and game. Unsurprisingly, it’s garnered some high-profile fans: The Observer named it the UK’s best ethical restaurant in 2011.

 

Local bars

Stop for a pint (and maybe some pub grub) at the George Inn (+44 (0)1934 71212; www.thegeorgewedmore.co.uk) on Wedmore's Church Street. 

Local cafés

Continuing the many-fingers-in-many-pies trend, At The Chapel in Bruton has a bakery, a bar, a wine store, a café and a restaurant (atthechapel.co.uk; +44 (0)1749 814070).

+ Enlarge
Whitewashed Wedmore

The Swan Wedmore

Cheddar Road, Wedmore, Somerset, BS28 4EQ, United Kingdom

The Swan is at the heart of Wedmore village in Somerset, opposite the post office and near the church.

Planes

Bristol airport is a half-hour drive away.

Trains

The nearest station is Highbridge & Burnham, a 20-minute car journey from the hotel. First Great Western trains from London, Birmingham, Exeter and Cardiff connect here (www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk).

Automobiles

Bristol and Bath are both around 40 minutes away by car. The hotel has plenty of free parking, and the rooms are just a short shuffle away, so you won’t have far to lug your bags.

Reviews

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Anonymous review

by Michelle Matthews , Cocktail-hunting nomad

‘Watch out for the cider.’ Such is the sage advice from our cabbie as we are arriving at a London train station bound for Somerset. ‘That scrumpy is lethal,’ he warns. ‘Randy farmers are also something to look out for…’ he continues, raising the stakes for this romantic weekend away. I gently elbow Mr Smith for looking sheepish at the mention of the …
Read more

The Swan Wedmore

Anonymous review by Michelle Matthews, Cocktail-hunting nomad

‘Watch out for the cider.’ Such is the sage advice from our cabbie as we are arriving at a London train station bound for Somerset. ‘That scrumpy is lethal,’ he warns. ‘Randy farmers are also something to look out for…’ he continues, raising the stakes for this romantic weekend away. I gently elbow Mr Smith for looking sheepish at the mention of the virility of West Country gents.

As charming and diminutive as Wedmore is, the Swan, with its smartly painted white exterior, definitely claims status in the smarter part of this stoney village. This Somerset stay’s boutique-hotel makeover has attracted football teams, family gatherings and romantic couples – the well-heeled and the salt-of-the-earth. As perhaps you can tell, these weary travellers keen for a little weekend rest, have promptly, and very happily, been distracted by the inn’s buzzing bar. After a glug of anthropological observation, and a pint of Cheddar Ales’ Gorge Best Bitter, we grab our room keys and head up to the sanctuary of our suite.

‘Look, you can see halfway up the high street from here,’ Mr Smith informs me. No doubt if they knew, the good people of Wedmore would go about their business a little more easily knowing he is on lookout. I nose around, as though inspecting a new friend’s abode. Sweet treats, padded coathangers and full-size bottles of potions by Somerset apothecary Bramley… She’s the kind of lady who knows how live comfortably, yet with great panache. She’s literary, quirky, but damn she likes everything to be so, so comfortable. The spacious bathroom has me torn between a rain shower (inclement weather is of course a theme in Somerset) and a clawfoot bath (which I imagine in a Bramley bubble-bath state).

Luxury isn’t always defined by anything obvious or expensive – for us, as we hit the so, so comfortable sack, it’s just knowing that the kitchen stays open until almost noon the next morning. What sweeter thing can a holidaying hedonist hear? When we descend for breakfast, the coiffed Somerset ladies are already in for elevenses. The tempting confections atop the jade milk-glass cakestands challenge us to resist them. Having no fixed schedule, we make loose plans to return for them in the afternoon, where we’ll cosy up by the fire, calories in hand.

Strolling the streets and greeting the locals, we shamelessly plumb them for advice on essential activities. Proud Wedmorians speak of fierce skittles tournaments and cider. Husbands paint outrageous pictures of Wilkins ‘proper’ farmhouse cider, while wives look on, their grimacing faces not-so-subtly warning us against visits to its Mudgley source. However, keen for the full Somerset experience and the lure of it being ‘properly weird,’ we pay Roger Wilkins a visit and help ourselves. To reveal more details would be to spoil the surprise. Let’s just say that it’s an iconic brewery frequented by rockstars of such renown their surnames are dispensed with.

Back at the Swan, where the decor is more geared at lounging and loitering than a brewery, I notice the upcoming pork and cider evenings to be held in the garden. With local butcher Jim Baker’s pigs just a few hundred yards away and Roger’s cider from the neighbouring town, you’d be lucky to hit four tractor miles in total for the meal. Local provenance is preferred, and amid promises of seasonal and organic ingredients, our virtue is assured as we tuck into delicious icy scoops of Mendip Moments’ Somerset Strawberries and Clotted Cream.

After hiking the quiet lanes lined with apple orchards, a hot bath is calling my name. Soaking in the bubbles by the window, it is my turn to command watch over the town’s main streets. Mr Smith innocently informs me he is decamping to the lobby to gather more local knowledge. Hang on, there is no lobby. Dramatic skies and leaky clouds come and go and eventually Mr Smith returns having emptied the Otter Bright Ale tap with the local Ferrari owners’ club.

Securing a table in the dining room requires a little forethought. Word sure must have leaked out about chef Tom Blake’s installment direct from the River Cottage Canteen: even on a wintry midweek the room is full. Dining in the bar is no sacrifice though, and more social. The kitchen mixes things up from time to time here and we’re here for curry night. A menu geared at carnivores, pescatarians and vegetarians, beckons us with mild, medium and hot-but-not-fiery concoctions. Charmed by talk of local otters from our first breakfast, we’ve become attached to a kitsch pair of the critters dispensing salt and pepper, and request that they grace our table for all meals.

Armed with all our intel the next day, we leave town for an afternoon in nearby Wells. England’s smallest city, notable for its impressive cathedral and bishop’s palace, it also hosts Vickers Close, a picturesque street that claims status as the oldest purely residential street in all of Europe. Glastonbury too is only 10 miles away too, so we fantasise about staying here for the next festival.

As fans of the camaraderie of country pubs, but suckers for the comfort of an intimate boutique hotel, it suited us just right to stay at the Swan to while away a few days in Somerset. Especially as it is even possible to journey here by train from London Paddington (and then take another train, and then a bus – but that’s another tale). And did we mention they do a great cider?

 

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in The Swan Wedmore's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The bath in the main bedroom was fab, and the decor just right – shabby chic but not over the top. The breakfasts and dinner, and the beer, were perfect, and overall our stay was a bargain for this sort of quality. We had a 4-month-old baby with us, which was no problem. Our baby monitor worked throughout the restaurant and pub, which was a bonus.

Don’t expect

There seemed to be lot of heat in the building for some reason, so it was warm in the room and opening my window allowed road and pub noise in.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The décor, service, friendliness, food, generous room size and quality of furnishings were highlights for us.

Don’t expect

Bar noise could be loud, but it was a Friday night!

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Our bedroom, no.2, was fantastic: beautifully decorated, with a huge bed and great bathroom. The lovely décor continued throughout the pub helping to create a great atmosphere. The garden is lovely, the food is too and the village of Wedmore is delightful.

Don’t expect

As others have mentioned, the road noise could be an issue.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Great location, wonderful building, restaurant and room. The hotel's bakery is brilliant.

Don’t expect

Nothing, it was perfect.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The rooms were lovely and very comfortable and the restaurant was excellent. It's a great place to go for a weekend away. I liked the great casual bar atmosphere with very good food made using local produce. Nothing could be improved – it was great, very enjoyable.

 

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked my lovely, well-appointed room with stylish décor and comfy beds, perfect for lazy mornings and afternoon naps in the sunshine. There was wonderful food available from bar snacks to gourmet meals, and the breakfasts are worth getting up for. It's a great location in a pretty village and handy for exploring the delights of Somerset. The staff was all fantastic, friendly and welcoming; everything you need for a relaxing getaway.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the beautiful, cosy room and excellent food.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I am writing on behalf of my parents for whom this booking was a gift. They said the room was lovely, although they were uncomfortable using the bath in front of the window looking over the street! They ate at the hotel restaurant both nights and said the food was great. The staff was friendly and the village very pretty.

Don’t expect

Mum didn't get a Bramley bath product of her choice as advertised; it was selected for her, which was a shame.

Rating: 8/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the friendly but also considerate attention, excellent food reasonably priced and well-appointed rooms.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The food at the Swan – lovely breakfasts and evening meals. The very comfortable beds. The unintrusive, just-right level of service. The beautiful walks nearby.

Don’t expect

The view from our room – none whatsoever.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This perfectly thought-out boutique getaway ticks all the boxes. As soon as we walked through the front door into the lively bar we knew we were on to a winner. I was taken by the striking decor full of bold industrial lights, rustic chic and quirky art. My husband was drawn to the large table in the corner with papers and brownies. We arrived at feeding time for our daughter and were initially unsure that our two year old had the palate for such fine food: she proved us wrong and absolutely devoured the battered hake, new potatoes and greens (it came with chips on the children's menu but the staff were very accommodating in swapping things around). Hats off to all the staff: they have obviously been trained very well. The room was very stylish and we thought it was excellent value for money. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and there was a great atmosphere: a wedding was taking place and there were people in the bar dressed in 1930s outfits ready to party, and throughout this the service was always attentive. Wedmore itself is a charming little village. On the Sunday morning it was alive with cyclists and dog walkers and back in the hotel the breakfast was spot on. Excellent locally sourced produce. When we waved goodbye we were presented with a mighty chocolate brownie to keep us going! Well done the Swan: we will be back.

Don’t expect

A fridge in the bedroom would be useful.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Great atmosphere; decor is very eclectic with fixtures and fittings cannibalised from other houses and then imaginatively reassembled here. Food was excellent and the restaurant being almost full for a Tuesday evening, which was very reassuring. The service, however, was slow and, being in a far corner table, we had to resort to a bit of waving to get attention. Same at breakfast, where service was agonisingly slow. Maybe these dining experiences were due to there being weekend customer levels but only weekday staffing levels. All in all, a good place equally suited for a long stay or for just a stopover on a journey.

Rating: 8/10 stars