The Bell, Ramsbury, hotel review
300 odd years ago, The Bell was a coaching inn. Today, it’s a bar, restaurant, and café with rooms. Despite its smallish overall size, The Bell offers nine ensuite rooms divided between the two buildings. The Bell is part of the Ramsbury Estate, which has its own brewery, distillery and smokehouse, with menus focused on seasonality.
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The estate believes in sustainability and ensures that waste is at a minimum. The livestock are fed leftover wheat from the distillery, waste water is cleaned and reused, and the brewery uses heat that’s been generated by a biomass boiler that is itself fed using their own sustainable woodland. And the head chef plans the menu each year around what they can grow in the garden.
Café Bella is a casual spot perfect for a light lunch or afternoon tea, while the restaurant portrays a more fine-dining atmosphere. The bar is a stylish version of your typical country pub – we were told the locals like to stay there ’til as late as they’re allowed in the weekends.
How to get there?
Located in Marlborough, it’s about 1.5 hours out of London on the train. We took the train from London Paddington to Hungerford station. From there we ordered a cab to The Bell. I would highly recommend ordering a taxi in advance, as there’s aren’t that many operating in the area. Alternatively, the hotel is accessible via the M24.
What’s in the area?
You’ll find many a quaint pub in the area but if you’re looking for more of an activity I’d recommend heading to Ramsbury Estate. A brewery and distillery tour is offered every Wednesday and Friday. The tour runs for approximately one hour and you’ll have a chance to sample products. Tickets are around £15 per person.
What’s in the room?
We stayed over in the coachhouse in the ‘pike’ room. And when I say room it was more like a studio apartment, bar the kitchen. Sweet, spacious and tranquil are the three words I’d use to describe the interior. The bed was sizeable to say the least, and even in all its lavish glory, it didn’t take up even half of the room.
A Victorian-style dressing table with a mirror and built-in sink graced the wall closest to the bathroom, and a flatscreen TV was propped on the wall, opposite the bed.
An honesty bar is located in the building for any late night tipples you might want.
And how about the bathroom?
Though small compared to the room, it had everything you could wish for. Toilet, basin, bath and an impressively large waterfall shower head. The towels were thick, plush and crisp white in colour and bathrobes (my favourite) were also available. Toiletries were courtesy of The White Company – luxurious and subtly-scented – they were a real treat.
How was dinner?
We’ve arrived at The Bell for a late Friday night dinner, after some transport complications (we didn’t realise you needed to book taxis in advance). The restaurant was comfortably full and the bar had a slight buzz about it. We started the evening with a G&T and lager from Ramsbury Estate, which we enjoyed alongside The Bell’s homemade bread and homemade olive butter. It took much self control to not finish the basket and the butter.
For my starter I ordered the summer tomatoes infused with strawberries. They were plated Michelin-style and impressive at first glance. The pistachio pesto served alongside the tomatoes was the highlight of the dish.
My boyfriend Nick chose the Cornish lobster, crab and scallop tagliatelle. The pasta was al dente and the seafood was fresh and flavoursome.
Main courses were meatier as I dug into a medium rare ribeye steak and Nick wrapped his hands around The Bell’s lamb burger. My steak was cooked well, in aged beef fat, and came with proper chunky, triple-cooked chips, a side of béarnaise sauce and rocket – an attempt to add some freshness to the dish.
Nick’s burger was plump and juicy, while the slab of feta added a welcome creaminess. To drink, it had to be red – both glasses were picked out, by the attentive manager, to suit our meals and our tastes.
And last, but not least, we shared their take on a lemon meringue pie. This was served without a base, the lemon filling was frozen, and topped with both hard and soft meringue and candied lemon peel. It was so very light and refreshing.
Breakfast was just how I like it – simple, yet good. The coffee was strong and juice selection fresh – exactly what I needed after a few glasses of wine the night before.
I ordered the roasted mushrooms on toast with a side of poached eggs. One large, buttery portobello mushroom was perched on my choice of brown sourdough, and the eggs were done to perfection. Nick opted for a breakfast classic of smashed avocado on toast with poached eggs and crispy bacon. It was a happy start to a beautifully sunny day.
What’s the damage?
Rooms start at £110 per night and include WI-FI and your choice from the full breakfast menu.