If you are looking for a country escape above an olde worlde pub in the heart of a picture perfect little Cotswolds town, then The Old Bell Hotel is just the ticket. Built on the remains of outbuildings of the 12th Century Malmesbury Abbey, The Old Bell is the oldest hotel in England and sits right next door to the Abbey in the pretty town of Malmesbury.
The hotel is located right in the centre of the historic and vibrant market town of Malmesbury. This is the sort of town where houses are so old, that they almost look to be collapsing into each other, plus there are numerous picturesque squares, interesting looking pubs and a good selection of shops. A major selling point of this hotel is that is is in the heart of the town, so you can stroll to everything.
The historic highlight in Malmesbury has to be the 12th century Abbey, which dominates the landscape. Here you can see the tomb of King Athelstan, the first King of all England.
Style & Character
You couldn’t wish for a more historic setting than The Old Bell. The hotel is a mass of original tiling, exposed beams and room after cosy room, where you can grab a coffee, sip a beer or even enjoy a cocktail. To add to the fun, the windows of the bar and restaurant look out upon a super pretty street with church spires in the distance, like something out of a storybook
There was a mix of clientele frequenting the bar, ranging from some locals with their dogs, to a newly engaged couple from London, to a group of hipsters sipping cocktails in the corner. The range of guests along with the historic setting gave the entire bar and restaurant an upbeat and eclectic vibe.
Service & Facilities
As this is a small hotel with a pub downstairs, the facilities are limited to the comfy rooms, the historic pub and lounge style communal areas, a lovely paved garden out the back and a car park for guests.
We were staying in a classic room named GC, with a bathroom window that looked right over the Abbey gardens; a superbly historic vista to enjoy from the roll top bath! The room had been newly refurbished and was very comfortable and spacious with a gloriously large bathroom with separate shower and the roll top bath. What I particularly liked about the room was the views. The room stretched across the entire width of the building. From the main room, you looked across gardens and over to the Abbey. The bathroom had 2 windows, one with a pretty window seat that had views over the Abbey gardens. A second bathroom window looked over the back patio which was full of tables and chairs for an alfresco drink or a bite (sadly it was raining during our stay, but it looked like a super place for a drink).
Food & Drink
The Old Bell Hotel offered a huge array of Cotswold lagers, local ciders and of course, cocktails. All these could be taken in one of the many bar areas or outside in the beer garden behind the hotel.
To the left of the bar was a large and popular restaurant that served good hearty and filling local food. My choice was tuna tartare to start, red mullet for main and a Victoria sponge concoction for dessert.
What was particularly nice was the decor and atmosphere in the restaurant, which had clearly been lovingly created with lots of candles and light fittings made out of deer antlers.
This historic Cotswolds escape was unique with bags of character. It was the perfect break if you are looking for a change of scene and to immerse yourself in a charming historic town.
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