Location, location, location

About three-and-a-half hours down the M3 from London or a half-hour's drive from Bath. Babington House, Babington, Nr Frome, Somerset BA11 3RW (tel: 01373 812266; fax: 01373 812112; e-mail: babhouse@compuserve.com)

What's it like?

The rustic sister of the fashionable private-members club Soho House, this converted early-Georgian mansion retains the groovy atmosphere of its London relation; yet step out of the door and there's landscape and fresh air.


Laid-back with a soupçon of intimidating trendiness. The fact that Babington House appears in a list of 100 hip hotels and that Zoe and Norman got married there had nothing to do with my determination to pay it a visit. Nothing whatsoever. As you enter the hall, other guests will look up to see if you're attractive/famous, and the good taste will wash over you like a Seabreeze.


Confident, unpretentious and friendly.


Our room in the Coach House had wooden floors, leather armchairs, a massive white duvet, a widescreen TV and DVD-player and a sound system that was connected through to the enormous bathroom and shower-room. There were rows of bath oils, a phone by the loo in case you wanted to play at being an American movie mogul, and a Dualit toaster for hot toast in bed. The perfect adult pleasure-pod. Rooms from £235 for non-members on Sunday to Thursday, rising to £255 for Friday and Saturday nights. A Sunday to Thursday mid-week special deal costs £265 for non-members and includes dinner and breakfast for two.


The Med-influenced dinner menu features such starters as spiced scallops with a lentil salad, and wild mushroom tart with béarnaise sauce. Main courses include roast monkfish with fennel and saffron sauce, and quail risotto with pancetta and sage. Not wildly imaginative, but London-restaurant standard and sourced, if possible, from the Victorian walled garden. Pizza and ciabatta sandwiches at all hours in the Breakfast Room.


Not yet - only opened in 1998.


Trainer-wearing, laptop-using young professionals; resting actors (in the bar); the occasional family.

Things to do

Leave kids in the crÿche and frolic in the indoor and outdoor pools; check in to the Cow Shed for a beauty treatment; play tennis; watch DVDs in bed with champagne from the minibar; reaffirm your marital vows in the 18th-century chapel.