With its superb gastronomy, scenic setting and stylish interiors, The Bradley Hare entices Alice Payne for an ideal wintry escape…
As autumn rolls in there’s an almost gravitational pull to hole up somewhere cosy and soak up the season’s colours and flavours. Which is why, keen to savour the last of it, I’m hurtling through Wiltshire, driving through mist-covered hills and russet woods to the small village of Maiden Bradley.
The village’s centrepiece is The Bradley Hare, an attractive 19th century stone inn trimmed in red brick – and the focus of my seasonal crosshairs. I’m in search of fine dining, country walks and luxurious accommodation wrapped up in a homely pub.
A tall order, you might think. But as I enter The Bradley Hare I’m greeted warmly by its manager, who leads me to a seat by the fire and proffers homemade elderflower fizz whilst lunch is prepared. As I take in my surroundings, I suspect I’ve landed in the ideal place.
The Bradley Hare opened in 2021, having been restored by hospitality entrepreneur Andrew Kelly and Soho House’s former european design director James Thurstan Waterworth, along with the Duke of Somerset’s estate, in which it lies. Indulgent but understated, the inn manages to capture that elusive sweet spot between elegant, cosy and unpretentious.
Downstairs, there’s The Snug – a small fireside room with a bookshelf, armchairs and an invitingly soft ochre sofa – leading through to a bar, dining area and more formal dining room. As you’d expect from the team behind it, the interiors are impeccable.
Walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s pigeon, dried foliage adorns the archways and intentionally mismatched lamps provide the perfect lighting. The bar’s stylish aesthetic may place it a few notches above your average pub, but ironic touches like the taxidermied hare’s head keep its feet on the ground – where you’ll also find the occasional sprawling dog.
Taking inspiration, I emulate this canine insouciance on the sofa, because guests are encouraged to treat the inn as a home from home – regardless of whether their own would meet the Thurstan Waterworth grade.
Luckily, before the sofa and I meld, lunch beckons with an array of light but satisfying dishes. My cutlery swivels between Dorset coppa ham and crispy, parmesan-sprinkled arancini, a refreshing salad of lettuce, tomatoes and radishes, and bowls of olives, aioli, cod’s roe and whipped butter – all transported inwards by the softest sourdough.
Head chef Pascale explains the vegetables come from a local allotment and the menu revolves around freshness, seasonality and a zero-waste policy. Nestled in a culinary pocket where neighbours include The Newt, Osip and Hauser & Wirth, the inn has access to the finest local suppliers and the quality of food reflects this.
With a postprandial snooze threatening, I head for a walk through the village – passing said allotment, the Potting Shed (a local organic spa) and a grand church dating back to the 12th century. Although Longleat and Stourhead are nearby for bigger outings, I amble gently through the estate.
Soon, I find myself on an avenue that opens into fields of wheat and grazing sheep, with copse-scattered hills on the horizon. As sunlight weaves through the trees and bronze leaves flutter with autumnal grace, it’s easy to see why this is one of the prettiest corners of England.
Back at the inn, there are seven main bedrooms and each is designed with a different aesthetic – which feels like a challenge to experience the full panoply through repeat visits. My favourites are the smaller Garden Room – with its cheerful floral wallpaper and garden view, and The Nest – with a freestanding bath and alcoved bed that’s curtained in red and amber fabric. The colours are a subtle nod to the estate’s history, echoing a dress worn by Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife and sister of the first Duke of Somerset.
My own room is spacious and peaceful despite overlooking the village and is decorated in calming shades of honey, sage and peach. The bed is so large I could comfortably sleep sideways, whilst the bathroom has a vast, burgundy-tiled, walk-in shower, aromatic products and a robe so fluffy I resemble Henry VIII swanning around my suite.
In the Coach House, a stone’s throw away, there are five dog-friendly bedrooms. These have a more modern, minimalist design with off-white, jute and wood accents, but stay in character with period furniture and the occasional freestanding bath.
Beyond its superb food, chic design and pastoral setting, what distinguishes The Bradley Hare is its thoughtfulness. When the assistant manager passes me sitting by the fire after a walk, she doubles back to suggest a hot chocolate before I’ve even registered it as the perfect accompaniment. Meanwhile, touches like the fruit bowl in The Snug, the treats in my fridge and the magazines on the landing bring its home-from-home ethos to life.
After a candlelit dinner of fresh octopus and celery salad, succulent porchetta and a moreish pear and almond frangipane tart, I awake the next morning to the village covered in mist and wonder whether the team have arranged this too. The bed is so comfortable that the prospect of leaving it would be outrageous if not for the guarantee of an excellent breakfast downstairs.
During a meal with the team, I learn how the inn balances its identity as a traditional village pub with weekly beer and burger nights, summer barbeques in the garden and group activities like wreath making. I join a more sybaritic cocktail-crafting session (harder than it looks) and a gnocchi-making class (tastier than mine looked). Then, before I know it, it’s time to leave the Hare’s embrace.
My mission is accomplished; I’ve been successfully seasoned – for now. But as London’s forcefield pulls me back via train to Waterloo, my thoughts linger in Wiltshire, imagining The Bradley Hare in winter – with snowy fields, a comforting roast and a restorative weekend holed up in The Nest.
Weekend rates at The Bradley Hare start from £175 per room per night including breakfast. For more information visit www.thebradleyhare.co.uk To find out more about any of their new experiences email email@example.com or call 01985 801018.
Photos by Martin Morrell