Only someone with vision could have imagined the holiday-home potential in a dirt-floored bakery next to a dinky, 400-year-old post office. Having already converted the latter into the chic, two-suite Post House B&B, Karen Price next turned her refurb energies to what was the most basic of bread-makers, 10 minutes' drive from Wells.
The result is a charming, hessian-toned, couple-friendly, self-catering stay. Karen and her husband, John – who live here with their Jack Russell terrier, Monty – provide the warmest of welcomes (which extends to a tin of just-baked crumbly biscuits by the kettle). And they are usually on hand to provide tips for the local area, which is ridiculously rich in tourist attractions, whether you're a Brit or from abroad.
Little surprise then that families and three-coupled groups often commandeer the Grade II-listed B&B and its little sister in their entirety.
It might seem tiny from the outside, but the two-floored annex that is the Old Bakery is simple, homely and spacious. It has a large living space downstairs, a bedroom and tiny en suite above, and a snug walled courtyard at the back, which in summer is a most welcome private outdoor space.
A huge, grand, stone fireplace steals the show in the pitch-roofed dining and sitting room. The baskets of trailing ivy are artificial, but everything else is wonderfully authentic, from the stone-mullioned windows and travertine floor tiles to the fully kitted-out country-house kitchen.
French oak floors, lime-washed walls, and sloping floors retain rustic character, while Egyptian-cotton linen, dressing gowns, and posh toiletries set this place apart.
Out and About
Out and About
The intricately carved towers of medieval Wells Cathedral (01749 674483; wellscathedral.org.uk) are spectacular from the outside, but do allow time to have a decent look and listen inside – choirs have been hosted here for more than 800 years.
Bath is only a 20-minute ride away; after touring the Roman Baths (01225 477785; romanbaths.co.uk) and the hot spring waters at Thermae Spa (01225 331234; thermaebathspa.com)take the hop-on-hop-off bus (01225 330444; bathbuscompany.com) from beside Bath Abbey to see the city's Georgian architecture and Palladian glories.
Worth a drive north, closer towards Bristol, is the National Trust's Tyntesfield House (0844 800 4966; nationaltrust.org.uk/tyntesfield), a Gothic Revival home with groomed gardens that's great fun for families.
Fashion lovers should drive south to Kilver Court for discounted shopping on big-name brands (01749 340 410; kilvercourt.com), and the Mulberry Factory Outlet (01749 340 583; mulberryfactoryshop.com) is just next door.
Food and Drink
Stock up on all you need at Farrington's, a sprawling farm shop in Farrington Gurney (01761 452266; farringtons.co.uk). On Saturdays, the market in Wells's main square is a winner, or head to Bath for more excellent local produce from the likes of the Fine Cheese Co (01225 483 407; finecheese.co.uk).
Alternatively, skip cooking altogether. The Pony and Trap is a refreshingly low-key, Michelin-starred gastropub in Chew Magna (01275 332627; theponyandtrap.co.uk).
In Wells, on Sadler Street, The Old Spot is sweet for lunch and dinner (01749 689 099; theoldspot.co.uk) but fish fans will adore Goodfellows (01749 673866; goodfellowswells.co.uk), owned by Adam Goodfellow, who was awarded a Michelin star as head chef at Charlton House. The café at the front does lighter bites and cakes, care of his pastry-chef wife.
The Pig (0845 077 9494; thepighotel.com), near Bath, is a destination in its own right, and the seasonal menu served in the converted Victorian greenhouse is conjured from ingredients sourced within a 25-mile radius. Be sure to tour the impressive kitchen gardens, and look out for the porkers in the field below (not all are destined for a serving plate).
The Old Bakery, Chewton Mendip, Somerset BA3 4NS (01761 241704; theposthousebandb.co.uk). From £120 per night, including breakfast.Reuse content