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Hotel Highlights

  • Easily reached from London, 10 minutes out of Bath
  • Historic pub serving traditional English ales
  • Budget boutique hotel with rooms from £90

Overview

Built over the remains of an 11th-century monastery, the Muddy Duck hotel (formerly the King's Arms), just outside Bath, does its history proud with its well-stocked cellar and dramatic architecture. Whether the tales of historical intrigues are true or not really doesn’t matter because this shadowy pub, lit softly by cosy fires and candlelight, is as atmospheric as a Rembrandt painting. Once you’ve settled in, you won’t want to leave this stone-walled country inn, especially once you taste the superlative local food and English ales on offer.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Muddy Duck with us:

Free Musetti coffee and tea to your room throughout your stay

Facilities

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The Muddy Duck Hotel – Bath – United Kingdom

Need To Know

Rooms

Five.

Check–out

11am, but flexible for free. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $137.06 (£104), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast. Guests must stay for at least two nights.

At the hotel

Free WiFi throughout, book and DVD library and a courtyard. In rooms: flatscreen TV, CD/DVD player, iPod dock, free bottled water and REN bath products.

Our favourite rooms

We love Room 3; it’s got the most space in the house, a super-king-size sleigh bed piled high with pillows, a freestanding roll-top bath and a stone wood-burning fireplace. Its antique accordion modesty screen isn’t bad either. Room 2 is smaller but still feels spacious – with enough room for a window seat and a vanilla-coloured sleigh bed.

Packing tips

A capsule wardrobe encompassing both city slicker (for Georgian jaunts into Bath) and country dweller (for rural rambling in Wiltshire) looks.

Children

Cribs for babies are provided free (extra beds are £20 a night each), and there’s a children’s menu. Babysitting can be arranged in advance.

Food and drink

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The Muddy Duck Hotel – Bath – United Kingdom

Hotel Restaurant

The restaurant side of the bar has a wood-burning fireplace, parquet flooring, heavy wooden tables and old beams. There are stacks of books to borrow on the window sills and vivid flowers dressing up the moody, masculine room. The brasserie-style menu has fish fresh in from Brixham Market, and most other ingredients from nearby Neston Park Farm Shop.

Hotel Bar

Guests gather by the stone fireplace in the pub to drink robust English ales such as Otter Amber and Butcombe as they steal tips on the region from the many lyrical locals.

Last orders

Breakfast is served between 8am and 10.30am. Lunch is available 12pm–3pm; dinner, 6pm–10pm. The bar stays open till 11pm (later at weekends).

Room service

Anything you can get downstairs can be delivered to your room between 8am and 10pm.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Comfortable country casuals – muddy wellies welcome.

Top table

Warming up by the fire, or in a cosy booth at the other end. When the weather plays along, take your pint out onto the leafy courtyard.

Local Guide

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The Muddy Duck Hotel – Bath – United Kingdom
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Venture into Bath for some shopping and a dip in the soothing spa waters of Britain’s only hot spring. It’s also worth a visit for its grand Georgian architecture. Archaeologists will be pleased to discover the many historical periods on show in Bradford-on-Avon – look out for the Roman villa, Saxon church and Iron Age fort. In Monkton Farleigh, relaxing by the open fire with a cask ale or cocktail is your best bet, once you’ve hiked through the countryside a little to deserve it.

Local restaurants

Jamie’s Italian is a Jamie Oliver outpost on Milsom Street in Bath – head here for rustic repasts and an Italy-exclusive wine list (+44 (0)1225 432340). On John Street, try the honey-barbecued duck, baked-for-six-hours shoulder of lamb or spice-rubbed steak at the Firehouse Rotisserie (+44 (0)1225 482070).

+ Enlarge
Stony hillside hamlet

The Muddy Duck

Monkton Farleigh, Bath, Wiltshire BA15 2QH, United Kingdom

Planes

Bristol airport is 15 miles from the hotel. Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flies in from all across Europe, including Belfast and Dublin.

Trains

From the train stations in Bath or Bradford-on-Avon, it’s another five miles to the hotel. First Great Western (www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk) runs services to and from London Paddington (to Bath, it’s around an hour and a half).

Automobiles

Leave the M4 at Junction 18 and it’s a 10-minute drive to the centre of Bath, using the A36, A4 and A46. When driving along the Bath Easton Bypass, take the third exit from the roundabout, duck under a bridge and wend through the woods, keeping a beady eye out for the hotel's sign. There’s free parking at the hotel.

Reviews

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The Muddy Duck Hotel – Bath – United Kingdom
The Muddy Duck
The Muddy Duck Monkton Farleigh Bath BA15 2QH Bath United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by , Front-row fashionista

Rating: 10/10 stars
Ah, the country pub: something revered and idealised by the British – a term alone that can make a stiff upper lip tremble with emotion. Like buttered crumpets, Pooh-sticks or Hunter wellies, the very idea fills us with happy nostalgia. And so it is that Mr Smith and I find ourselves driving down Wiltshire lanes, weekend bag on the back seat, Hunters in the boot, impatient for the Muddy Duc…
Read more

The Muddy Duck

Anonymous review by Jess Cartner-Morley, Front-row fashionista

Ah, the country pub: something revered and idealised by the British – a term alone that can make a stiff upper lip tremble with emotion. Like buttered crumpets, Pooh-sticks or Hunter wellies, the very idea fills us with happy nostalgia.

And so it is that Mr Smith and I find ourselves driving down Wiltshire lanes, weekend bag on the back seat, Hunters in the boot, impatient for the Muddy Duck to loom out of the inky darkness. It does. The swinging sign is of the modern type, all muted Farrow & Ball tones and modish font. The pub is built of those solid chunks of honey-toned stone, like giant slabs of Cotswold fudge. There are ancient vines twisted around the heavy oak front door, which pushes open to reveal a thick velvet curtain shielding the pub inside from the draughts. So far, so idyllic.

I know what you’re thinking. This is where it all goes wrong. This is when the boutique-hotel aficionados get left waiting awkwardly with their bags for 10 minutes while the bored teenage barmaid pointedly ignores them. Then the shown to a room with thin curtains and no water pressure. Or handed one of those alarmingly extensive laminated menus that suggest the existence of a freezer out back stocked with everything from Peking duck to shepherd’s pie. Because the thing about the country pub is, the good ones are out there, but you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find them.

Thankfully, the reality is as follows. Vince, the proprietor, is at the bar. I have just enough time to take in scrubbed wooden tables laid for dinner, exposed brick walls, church candles, herringbone-parquet floor, and then we are led upstairs, along a guest corridor stocked with Scrabble, packs of cards, a pile of DVDs, and into room 3. Room 3 is enormous. Vast. Massive. In London, this kind of floor space would be converted into a decent-size one-bedroom apartment before you can say ‘property-developer’.

The super-king-size bed looks positively cute in it. Under a window at one end are two armchairs beside a coffee table, with a chess set. At the foot of the bed is a large sofa, facing an open log fire. At the other end is a freestanding claw-footed bath. The fire, thick shutters and curtains and soft velvet sofa make it cosy despite the size. The decor is well-executed chic rather than directional design flair, but it works. The bathroom (toiletries: Ren) is in the signature New York-hotel style (black rubber floor, metro tiles, oversized showerhead) but four times the size of a New York hotel bathroom.

We order G&Ts, which are brought swiftly, strong and ice-cold, with a dish of salted almonds that is all the more welcome for being unrequested. We pop the iPod in the docking station and take our positions for half an hour of pre-dinner newspaper reading: me in the bath, Mr Smith on the sofa in front of the fire. We declare ourselves happy.

The dining room is full when we go downstairs: there are only three rooms in this boutique inn, but locals and weekenders come for the food. (A party from the Bath Rugby Club had their New Year’s Eve dinner here. Very polite and well-behaved they were too, according to the sweetly chatty Muddy Duck staff.) Our table is in the inglenook fireplace – the largest inglenook in the county, it easily houses two tables-for-four.

The food is best summed up as 'latest-edition gastropub classics'. We have crackling with apple sauce, devilled whitebait and crab linguine to start; then rare T-bone steaks with great chips and rocket salad followed by sticky toffee pudding. It is all delicious, as is the French red, and by the time we finish dinner we are so jolly that we select The Hangover from the DVD pile and giggle through the whole thing on our velvet sofa.

Now, as is oft the rumour with these old inns, apparently the pub is haunted. And the phantom? A monk who plays practical jokes on guests and staff – there was a priory in Monkton Farleigh in the 11th century. But no ghouls or living souls disturb us and we are woken in time for breakfast by the sound of horses (real ones, not ghostly) clip-clopping along the road outside. One thing I’d have loved? Paraphernalia in the room for an early cuppa – I appreciate those tea trays look a bit, you know, bed-and-breakfasty, which is why smart establishments eschew them, but I’d always kill for a kettle hidden away in the cupboard. Still, awaiting downstaires are delicious scrambled eggs and bacon for Mr Smith; boiled eggs and Marmite soldiers for me; excellent coffee for both – all served at a big, comfy table with all the weekend papers.

Monkton Farleigh feels like deepest countryside yet it is only five miles from Bath. Bradford-on-Avon is just as close too, a very picturesque Avon Valley town with winding streets, historic buildings and a lovely stone bridge. And yes, as is the Cotswolds way, a surfeit of shops selling heart-shaped knick-nacks. (And I say this as someone who is always partial to a cutesy geegaw.)

Bath, much bigger, has pretty streets, endless restaurants, a cinema where we catch a matinee, and some great shops. We pop here for sushi to offset the pubby indulgences; there is culture too, apparently. This takes us almost through to supper time, so it is back to our lovely room, and then to ‘our’ table, where we have another first-class supper: duck liver pâté, Caesar salad; roast chicken with frîtes, venison with celeriac; and – the standout – a delicious English cheeseboard.

Top-notch food is only part of what makes a great dinner. Service makes all the difference, and the Muddy Duck totally gets this. Bad service turns us into curmudgeons and naggers: nobody wants to be that person in the corner irritably barking ‘excuse me’ at the waiter repeatedly. When service is seamless, you feel taken care of and you get to be gracious and smile and say thank you all the time, which makes you feel your best about a place and also about yourself – and your weekend away. Everyone’s a winner.

Sunday morning, we head out for a post-breakfast (excellent Full English; underwhelming Eggs Benedict) walk. After all – can’t go home without getting those Hunters muddy. The immediate countryside isn’t staggeringly beautiful, at least not on an overcast, blowy winter morning, but there are stiles and footpaths and some soul-uplifting rural views within reach.

Then it’s time to check out – although it feels much too soon. Mr Smith starts talking about buying a stuffed pike, like the one on the wall above ‘our’ breakfast table at the Muddy Duck, partly as a reminder of a really decent weekend. Which it was. What you get at this gastropub with gusto are all the country-pub clichés (open fire, the clubbable atmosphere, the opportunity to get a bit tipsy and then sleep it off in peace), without the bad clichés (the surly teenage staff, the bad music, the scratchy bedlinen). As Bath’s most famous writer, Jane Austen, might have put it: Reader, we loved it.
 

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 have to say about The Muddy Duck in the Guestbook below…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The friendliness of all the Muddy Duck staff, the breakfast and cosy and very comfortable rooms.

Don’t expect

Nightlife.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Youthful exuberant staff

Don’t expect

Feminine decor

Rating: 6/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Everything about this place. The staff were knowledgeable, friendly and attentive, the building and rooms were gorgeous and the food was INCREDIBLE.

Don’t expect

Crazy nights out. This is an amazing place for peace, quiet and a relaxing weekend.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Cozy fireplace, DVD library, amazing room with freestanding bath, and delicious food.

Don’t expect

Not much to do walking distance.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The luxurious room and wonderful food

Don’t expect

Nightlife

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The pub history, our room which had a mezzanine lounge level, the breakfast.

Don’t expect

Anything lively or a spa.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The pub atmosphere with outstanding service, plus quality food. Ideal location! We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and have recommended it to friends and family already

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Service and food fantastic. Went above and beyond - even preparing a picnic for me and Mr to enjoy when out walking.

Don’t expect

Extra quilts in rooms would've been good.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

We felt wonderfully looked after - the room was comfortable, clean and cosy, and the bar and restaurant downstairs was a sophisticated haven. I was poorly on our second night (appendicitis, it turned out - certainly not the excellent food!), and the staff were fantastically supportive, offering to go out for anything I needed. This state of affairs, sadly, meant that I didn't feel up to trying the DIY Bloody Mary on offer at breakfast. We will save this for any return visits...

Don’t expect

Don't count on a quiet early night- it is a smallish bar/hotel in a near silent village, so you will likely hear the bar noise (albeit quietly in the background) in your room until closing time.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

We liked the beautiful setting that was in close proximity to Bath. We also thought the service was great and we had lovely food.

Don’t expect

I thought the offerings for those with food allergies, e.g. lactose free or almond milk, was limited. 

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved the relaxed atmosphere, and it was hidden away.

Rating: 10/10 stars