Wiltshire, United Kingdom

The Old Bell Hotel

Price per night from$180.38

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (GBP145.83), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Chimes in well

Setting

Adjacent to Malmesbury Abbey

In its 800-year history, the Old Bell Hotel has undergone many a makeover, but don’t be fooled by its shy and retiring wisteria-clad façade; ‘olde worlde’ this is not. Hailing from Texas, owners Kim and Whit Hanks have stirred things up in the ancient town of Malmesbury, breathing new life and Lone Star flair into what may be the oldest hotel in England. From the bars to the bedrooms, rich wallpapers are layered with jewel-toned textiles, stained glass and curated antiques. Elegant, characterful, with superb food and drink – it’s everything you’d want from a relaxing stay in the honey-tinted Cotswolds. 

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

One seasonal cocktail for each guest at the bar

Facilities

Photos The Old Bell Hotel facilities

Need to know

Rooms

34, including two Town House suites in separate nearby properties which are self-catered and managed by the hotel.

Check–Out

11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Prices

Double rooms from £175.00, including tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast; a Continental buffet and a selection of hot breakfast dishes.

Also

Currently the property does not have wheelchair access.

At the hotel

Free WiFi throughout; free access to a local gym located just a few minutes from the hotel; charged laundry service; and umbrellas and wellies to borrow. In rooms: TV, retro-style telephone, Dyson hairdryer, bathrobes and Bramley bath products, and tea- and coffee-making kit.

Our favourite rooms

Even the Old Bell Hotel’s smaller Cosy rooms in its Coach House will make for a luxurious stay with their profuse patterning and colour. The spacious Master Suites check all the boxes for period charm, a super-king or four-poster bed, beams and classic Cotswold views. But if it’s quirkier period features you're after, the Character Rooms do what they say on the tin. Note that 12 of the rooms are also dog-friendly.

Packing tips

Binoculars for wildlife-spotting at the nearby Westonbirt Arboretum.

Also

In a sweet twist of fate, owners the Hanks family (who hail from Texas) discovered that a distant ancestor Mark Pleydell Hanks once owned part of the hotel in the past.

Pet‐friendly

Yes, Fido can stay for £25 a pet. There are 12 dog-friendly rooms, with canine-size four-poster beds available to hire for a fee, on request. See more pet-friendly hotels in Wiltshire.

Children

Children are welcome and extra beds and cots can be added to some of the rooms for no additional charge. The hotel restaurant also offers a ‘little angels’ children’s menu for mini meals and afternoon teas.

Food and Drink

Photos The Old Bell Hotel food and drink

Top Table

Set apart from the main house, a gazebo can be hired for romantic dinners and sits adjacent to a small garden area, with views over Malmesbury. They also have a private-dining room which can be beautifully decorated and caters for 10 to 60 guests.

Dress Code

Gastropub-smart-casual meets cocktails-in-the-countryside. It wouldn’t be too much to don a print maxi dress and heels – in fact you’d really blend in (with the wallpaper).

Hotel restaurant

Enveloped in a rich palette of teal, aubergine and stormy blues, the ambience at the on-site Abbey Row restaurant is intimate and laid-back. You’ll be dining next to stained-glass windows, dream-like painterly wallpaper, and under a celestial ceiling of 8,000 (painstakingly) hand-painted gold stars. And the food is just as heavenly. The regularly changing menu offers fresh, locally-sourced seasonal dishes. Start with seared Scottish scallop with shellfish bisque, garlicky spinach, seaweed crackers, a crab beignet, garlic aioli, and fennel, followed by succulent Beechridge chicken breast with mushroom tart, girolle ragu, chicken-fat mash, and tarragon. Leave a little room for desserts such as crème caramel with pickled nectarines and blue-cheese croissant. The restaurant also offers a tasting menu, pub-classic dishes, and a children’s menu; and you’d be mad not to try the hotel’s afternoon tea (noon–5pm and full afternoon teas 2pm–5pm every day) with freshly baked buttermilk and fruit scones, clotted cream and homemade seasonal jam. You can walk it off tomorrow.

Hotel bar

The outdoor Tyger bar is a lively space to enjoy a Strawberry Fields cocktail or three (strawberry gin, aperol, rhubarb shrub, lemon, peach, and jasmine soda). Tiki cups, monkey-shaped lights and vines overhead add a tropical twist and you might even be treated to some live music. The cocktail menu changes each season, so in winter, an Eggnog or a Hot Gin Toddy can be enjoyed under blankets and outdoor heaters. 

Indoors, you’ll find expert mixologists working their magic behind the 1220 Bar (and should you feel inspired, the hotel also offers cocktail masterclasses). There are two large lounges from which to enjoy a pre-dinner drink or afternoon tea. Think bouncy velvet sofas and open fires to warm the cockles in winter.

Last orders

On weekdays, breakfast is served from 7am–10am and 7.30am–10.30am on weekends. Lunch is noon–2pm Mon–Sat, until 4pm on Sundays. The Lounge Menu is available noon–9pm Mon–Sat. Dinner is served from 6pm–9pm every day.

Room service

A full menu is available between 7am to 9pm. There is also a 24-hour night porter team on hand.

Location

Photos The Old Bell Hotel location
Address
The Old Bell Hotel
Abbey Row
Malmesbury
SN16 0BW
United Kingdom

Encircled by the Bristol Avon river, the Old Bell Hotel is nestled right next to Malmesbury Abbey in the quaint and historic hilltop town of Malmesbury in the Cotswolds.

Planes

The hotel is 30 miles from Bristol Airport and a one-hour drive. We’d recommend booking airport transfers in advance with a local taxi firm.

Trains

If arriving by train, the hotel is a 15-minute drive from Kemble station or a 20-minute drive from Chippenham. Both stations can be reached from London Paddington in just over an hour, and there’s a direct connection between Chippenham and Bristol Temple Meads.

Automobiles

There is free on-site parking available in the hotel’s private car park. Availability is on a first come, first served basis. We’d certainly recommend hiring a set of wheels so you can soak up the charming Cotswolds scenery.

Worth getting out of bed for

You’ll be curious to find out more about Malmesbury Abbey next door; one of the most protected buildings in the country and still used today as a local parish church. It dates back to the seventh century, when the Irish monk Maildubh founded a hermitage teaching local children. The Abbey later became a Benedictine monastery and by the Middle Ages, put Malmesbury on the map as a centre for academic learning. A hostelry was built next door in 1220, a place for students to stay, and so the Old Bell Hotel was born.

Book a guided history walk and you’ll discover the tomb of King Athelstan (the first king of England) and hear about the daredevil antics of an 11th-century monk who fashioned a pair of wings and leapt from the Abbey’s tower in an attempt at human flight (it resulted in two broken legs, but thankfully he survived to tell the tale).

You’ll almost certainly want to spend time pottering around the famously picturesque villages of the Cotswolds. And should you wish to organise a picnic in the countryside, the chefs at the hotel will be able to whip that up for you. 

Note that you’re also a short drive from the Westonbirt National Arboretum (where you can see 2,500 species of tree) and 12 minutes from Highgrove Gardens which are open on selected dates between April and October.

Local restaurants

Enjoy a hearty Sunday roast at the Potting Shed which serves locally-sourced and seasonal pub food in a cosy setting. Their sister hotel, the Rectory is a refined country house hotel, with award-winning chef Rob Weston at the helm. Seated in the elegant glasshouse conservatory, you might opt for guinea fowl with wild-garlic spätzle and roast hispi cabbage followed by warm praline cake, poached pear and vanilla ice-cream. Down the road on Malmesbury High Street, the Birdcage’s artisan pizza is a local favourite.

Local bars

Sample some local craft beer at the nearby Flying Monk Brewery which is situated in a restored Cotswolds barn. This popular taproom and café offers a menu of tasty burgers and bites to accompany your beer, with vegan and gluten-free options available too.

Reviews

Photos The Old Bell Hotel reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this one-from-the-history-books hotel on the Cotswolds border and unpacked their wellies and Wiltshire-made jam, a full account of their countryside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Old Bell Hotel in Malmesbury…

On being greeted by faux-taxidermy giraffe heads, you’ll soon realise that the Old Bell Hotel isn’t a neutral-palette sort of place. As you move through the hotel, a smorgasbord of luxury wallpapers change with every corridor and space, and sometimes crawl across the ceiling. Ikat textiles and William Morris prints are juxtaposed with faux murals, while retro telephones, pops of bright yellow and cool metro tiles in the bathroom add a modern freshness. It’s a seemingly maximalist approach, yet through considered colour choices, the result feels cosy and serene. 

Antique treasures are a passion for the owners and these have been cleverly woven in and around the hotel with little touches of humour. Religious relics reference the rich history of the Abbey; and one minute you’ll come face to face with a gargoyle, the next a wicker motorbike. The bar’s hooded fireplace is the hotel’s most impressive period feature, dating back to the original 1220 structure. 

It may be elegantly eccentric here, but it’s also relaxed, proudly dog-friendly and an all-round lively place to gather for excellent food, pub quizzes and even some live Americana music in the bar. Whether you’re enjoying a frozen margarita in the outdoor Tyger bar in summer, or curling up on the sofa by one of the fireplaces in winter, it’s the perfect base from which to discover Malmesbury's fascinating rich history or throw on some wellies and go cavorting in the beautiful Cotswolds countryside. 

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Price per night from $180.38