Hidden in the hills of Somerset lies Bittescombe lodge, now part of Mandarin Oriental’s exclusive homes collection in collaboration with StayOne. Candice Tucker visits the property and reports back
Mention the English countryside and it usually conjures up an image of gently rolling hills with a patchwork of fields separated by hedgerows, rather than the grandeur of the Scottish Highlands.
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Just 1 hour and 39 minutes away from London, by train, I discovered the best of both worlds. Nestling near Taunton, in Somerset, is Bittescombe Lodge and Deer Park. The short drive to the property provides spectaculars view of seemingly never ending hills, covered in a quilt of yellow and green to being surrounded by trees, which transports your imagination to the great Canadian forests.
The Lodge is located in a completely secluded part of Somerset, sitting on 400 acres of land. Inside the property is intricately designed to the most exacting detail with silk and wooden walls, eccentric coloured furniture and a variety of artworks, all curated by the owner, yet it still maintains an English countryside charm.
The amenities are endless from a cinema, indoor swimming pool and spa (including an in house masseuse) to a gym and paddle court. The owners have ensured that the instructors for all sports including shooting and clay pigeon shooting are of the highest calibre. We enjoyed sniper shooting (a plastic deer!) whilst sipping hot apple cider and bone broth soup prepared by the in-house Michelin Star, Mandarin Oriental approved chef. Alternatively, you might prefer to snuggle up with a good book sitting in the little library looking down at an indoor well that’s 15m deep.
Each bedroom is unique but all are luxurious and cosy. Our bedroom had a plush bright coloured headboard with wooden floors and thick rugs to sink your feet into. On the bed your name is embroidered onto your pillow case and even your hot water bottle! It’s these distinctive features that make the property feel like you are in your own luxurious home rather than simply a 5-star hotel.
With hidden doors in the walls it’s what you imagine your childhood self would dream about playing hide and seek in.
At dinner we ate locally sourced venison from the deers reared at the estate. The owners explained that sustainability is an essential part of their ethos. At breakfast we could request whatever we desired. The hot danish pastries and soft poached eggs with ripe avocados on toasted sourdough was the ideal breakfast before a day in the outdoors.
The trails around the estate echo the scenes enjoyed on the way to the Lodge, but then you hit the deer park. With over 150 deer roaming free around the park one becomes enchanted by families of deer gracefully bounding across the land or stopping to drink at a meandering stream.
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With up to ten rooms available, we recommend the stay for group trips. If you demand the full grand British countryside experience, Bittescombe Lodge and Deer Park provides it.
Rates: From £20,880/2-nights (approx. €23,500/$25,000)