From £160
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Claiming to be England's oldest hotel, The Old Bell is a 13th-century, wisteria-clad inn adjacent to Malmesbury's 12th-century abbey. Inside is a restaurant, a collection of recently revamped lounges and 34 bedrooms, most of which contain handsome original features. The hotel suits guests seeking a historic base from which to explore the Cotswolds.

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Rooms available from £160 per night

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This grand inn sits in the heart of picturesque Malmesbury, a small market town dissected by two rivers, on the edge of the Cotswolds. The town's market cross and the striking nave of its 12th-century abbey are a few steps away, the latter containing the tomb of King Athelstan - the first king of England. With exposed brickwork and character, The Smoking Dog on the high street is a convivial pub for a drink, while The Kings Arms is a bright and cheerful gastropub nearby.

By car: the hotel is 1 hour 40 mins from Birmingham, 40 mins from Bristol and 2 hours from London. There is free parking on-site.

By train: London Paddington to Chippenham (via Westbury) takes just over 2 hours. The hotel is a 20-minute taxi ride from the station. Book trains to Chippenham.

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Luxurious fabrics and vibrant prints are used to give otherwise traditionally-styled rooms a burst of colour and bring them stylishly up-to-date. Original features are a highlight of the 34 bedrooms, with exposed stone walls, fireplaces (including a magnificent hooded one dating from 1220) and an array of wooden beams. The many lounges are full of comfortable corners and plush armchairs.


Hotel staff are discrete and approachable; there is a lot of history to discover here and they will be happy to share it with you. There is a car park to use at the back. Afternoon teas are good but the dinner service can be a little slow and in need of finessing.

  • Restaurant
  • Bar
  • Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Pet-friendly
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi


The bedrooms comprise two master suites, characterful rooms of different sizes and some boxy, more modern rooms in a coach house at the back. Classic and Character rooms are good value. Bathrooms vary in size but feature modern appliances and excellent Noble Isle toiletries.

Room types: Single, Cosy, Master Cosy, Character, Classic, Junior Master, Master

Key amenities: ensuite with shower over bath, bathrobes, Hypnos mattress, Nespresso machine, fridge, cookies, TV, gym access, free Wi-Fi


The Refectory and Bar are roomy, inviting spaces with windows overlooking the town. The kitchen likes to keep things traditional and serves up classic European and English dishes, using seasonal produce and locally reared meat. Afternoon Tea is served Wednesday to Sunday.

The Refectory: modern British and European-inspired cooking, Sunday roasts. Mon-Sun lunch, Weds-Sat dinner. Mains from £16.

The Bar: all-day dining, light lunches, cocktails, fine wines, champagne. Open every day (5pm close Sun-Tues).

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