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The Old Bell Hotel

Muddy says: Bed down for the night in this newly restored hotel in the heart of charming Malmesbury. It’s Britain’s oldest hotel, y’know. And it’s got a gin bar. Right, I’m moving in…

England’s oldest hotel (now there’s a USP) sits snuggly next to an ancient Abbey (home to the tomb of King Athelstan, first king of England) in the heart of historic Malmesbury. Recently restored to the height of English charm, like Cinderella, it now has its glad rags on and is ready to go to the ball. After a good snoop around, we’ve given The Old Bell a big Muddy tick for lovers of fantastic food and a good night’s kip in a stunning historic setting.

The hotel may be old (I’ve been advised not to read the ghost stories to my 7-year old before bedtime) but it is light and bright with some funky touches, while retaining its historic feel: the hooded stone fireplace downstairs is believed to be one of the first flue chimneys in England.

The Refectory is the place to celebrate a special occasion, or why not just let Head Chef Frédéric Fetiveau work his magic and treat yourself to a slap up dinner? Modern British dishes vary from Lamb Wellington to Asparagus Risotto and Pan Fried Veal, with some quirky twists (breakfast includes Scrambled Tofu on Muffin) and fun, lighthearted puds – think Lord Jack Sticky Ginger, Baba Cool, and I’ll leave you to guess what Milady is.

You won’t have to stagger far for a good night’s sleep – upstairs are 34 luxe bedrooms, prettily decorated, from Cosy rooms to huge Master Suites that would make even the snootiest Lord of the Manor nod his approval. Our Muddy noses certainly sniffed out a romantic haven here, perfect for lovers of luxury, yet no need for a boot full of wellies as you’re in a bustling town centre.

If that’s not enough, book in for a Cinephile Dinner and then head off to Movies@Malmesbury for a flick, join a glitzy jazz soirée or…wait for it…coming up is a Gin Garden Party which includes unlimited gin tasting. Oh, go on then. You’ve twisted my arm.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Gloucestershire