Hotel Review: The Mount Somerset Hotel & Spa, Taunton in Somerset
A weekend at the Mount Somerset Hotel and Spa, for me, resulted in a very relaxed and indulgent one indeed! From taking a bubble bath with a hot chocolate in hand to sampling the wine paired tasting menu and the odd afternoon nap in between, I couldn’t think of many other things that would make me feel any more chilled out and decadent. Other than a treatment at the resident Georgian spa or a dip in the hot tub that is!
The 4 star Somerset based hotel sits close enough to the M5 near Taunton for easy access but is far enough away so that you feel lost in the country. There’s plenty to do nearby (Glastonbury and Wells Cathedral, Hestercombe Gardens and Dunster Castle to name a few) but if you want to leave the car behind then the welcoming lounge, comfortable rooms and spa are there to envelope you in a cosy hug.
The regency hotel, which belongs to the Eden Collection, has 19 individually decorated rooms, a spa with some lovely treatments using ESpa products and is ideally set up for weddings and conferences with its shining star being the 3AA rosette awarded restaurant.
The staff employed here are a credit to the hotel – we never felt rushed at mealtimes and the service was always friendly and efficient. Fellow guests seemed to be enjoying themselves too – a group of ladies on a spa day and a few birthday celebrations were being had – and the food was just delicious.
The lounge and bar provided the setting for some pre dinner drinks and a peruse of the menu while also offering it’s own selection of light bites. My guest and I also spent a few hours there playing a rather hard fought tournament of rummy (I lost, no more mention of that please) before we wandered about outside to work up an appetite for dinner.
The décor throughout the hotel maintains a classic and elegant feel – aided by high ceilings, tall windows and decorative plasterwork – with each area offering something slightly different to suit your needs. With fireplaces, comfy patterned furnishings and soft lighting abound we felt comfortable wherever we were.
The Somerset Dining Room with head chef, Mark Potts at the helm, offers up a splendid tasting menu as well as a varied a la carte menu offering 5 starters, mains and desserts. We sampled a few items from the a la carte menu on our first night and we could tell immediately that a lot of thought had gone into each dish, especially with the colourful and careful presentation. Highlights of the intricate dishes included the quail leg and breast with full English breakfast garnish and home-made brown sauce (£16) and the pan fried Cornish brill with chicken, onion and garlic (£27.50). The quail had lots of fun elements and was tasty too, while the brill was delicate with a beautiful chicken consommé and lovely crispy textures on the plate.
Evening two and we didn’t think twice about going all in for the 5 course tasting menu with paired wines too – it was a weekend of decadence after all!
After a large gin and tonic in the bar, with some mini cheese and tomato pizza canapés (way more refined than they sound!) and smoked bacon popcorn, we took our seats in the dining room and were offered an amuse bouche of parsnip soup (I think this could have done with a little truffle, cheese or drizzle of something to liven it up) and a sumptuous sourdough loaf that was warm, light and delicious. A glass of Riesling (White Rabbit Riesling, Germany, 2016) was poured in anticipation of our first course and we were eager to get started. The menu kicked off with a pigeon wellington with minestrone and wild mushrooms and what a stunning start! The beautiful dish was graced with delicate, melt in the mouth meat, a tasty sauce and some lovely little crispy elements, making it a very pleasant autumnal dish.
Next up we had roasted Cornish scallops with cauliflower, smoked eel and apple with a generous (not complaining) serving of Pionero Reserva Sauvignon Blanc (Chile, 2016). I liked the juicy scallops, the crunch of the apple and the gentle cauliflower purée but I could have done with half the amount of eel as the smokey flavour was quite heavy. The wine freshened this up though and I thought the texture and flavour were in unison here.
Everleigh Farm venison – loin and ragout with carrot and choucroute (French for Sauerkraut) was course number three and this time a rich and hearty dish came out. Served with a glass of Château Garreau Bordeaux Superior 2012 the rich ragout was complemented perfectly with slightly pickled cabbage, which cut through the flavour and the rare loin was of really good quality.
There was the option of a cheese course (£3.50 supplement) and we gladly accepted – a selection of local cheeses were presented on a trolley and, after some great explanations from Josh, we went for Cornish Yarg, both goat’s options, a blue and cheddar. Served on a slate with some celery, grapes, biscuits and home-made chutney, the Bordeaux was a nice accompaniment here too.
A chef’s pre dessert of panna cotta with passion fruit sorbet and a thin sweet biscuity crisp was refreshing before our dessert of tiramisu with mascarpone, walnut, chestnut honey ice cream. With a glass of lip-smacking Sauternes Fleur D’Or 2012 (I LOVE dessert wine) in hand we filled right up on this full and flavoursome dessert with its abundance of textures and flavours. As if we couldn’t squeeze any more in we were bought over the chocolate box with its drawers of goodies to choose our petit fours and chocolates from. We dragged ourselves to the lounge to enjoy a hot drink with these goodies and reflected on the fantastic menu as a whole, the intricately presented dishes and the array of flavours on each. The tasting menu costs £65 with paired wines at £30. the cheese is worth the extra and tea or coffee with petit fours and chocolate box is £5.50.
I stayed in the Durston suite and it felt very spacious with high ceilings and large windows, which look out onto the pretty grounds and the miles of flat, green views beyond. The secluded location allows you to feel like you have escaped, there’s Wi-Fi if you need to check in but there’s an off switch for that!
The walls are painted a soft, very pale grey and the overrunning colour in the room is mustard, which matched the autumn leaves outside perfectly. The headboard, sofa and a touch on the cushions and curtains are all the shade of yellow and the colour, combined with the neutral shades in the rest of the room looked elegant alongside the classic (teak) coffee table, wardrobe, desk and bedside cabinets.
The bathroom is certainly worth a mention with its stand alone roll top bath situated near to the window so you can enjoy those lovely countryside views while taking a dip. The room was huge with a double wet room style shower behind a pillar and large sandy coloured tiles gracing the walls and floor. The sink was a little small and not ideal for face-washing but there are worse things in life!
IN A NUTSHELL
A lovely place to spend a weekend relaxing, however you do it. The food is unmissable and the tasting menu really offers something special for any occasion you have going!
Address: Lower Henlade, Taunton, Somerset TA3 5NB
Phone: 01823 442500