If you are looking for a dark, romantic and atmospheric destination, then the Archangel (Frome, Somerset) most certainly is a place to visit. The medieval walls are home to unique rooms, great food, delicious cocktails and high-end service. What more could you want?
The Archangel and a rich history
Frome is an historic market town and it has a sleepy, idyllic feel. Littered with more listed buildings than any other Somerset town, Frome is home to buildings which remain relatively untouched and they stands as a catalogue of gorgeous constructions from the past. The Archangel is a building with as much history as any other and it made for a charming setting for our visit.
You will find the Archangel in the Domesday book, when it was first recorded as “The Angel” Inn in 1311. As you would expect, the building is dripping in history and there are even tales of spirits still walking through the corridors and interacting with staff.
In 2008 renovation work began under the guidance of architect Piers Taylor. The result is an interior which harks back to the original feel of the building, yet it is highlighted with glass and other highlights of modern design.
The Archangel describes this style as lux-rustic and we love it. The use of renaissance paintings of angels as wallpaper are used throughout and this combines beautifully with natural touches from zinc, copper, slate and leather. These natural elements give a charming simplicity and stripped back feel to the ethereal motif of the archangel. The use of leather and dark woods throughout also give a feeling of warmth and homeliness.
A truly unique experience
With over 900 years of history under its roof it is a welcome sight to see all of the history maintained and celebrated. Certain rooms feature low ceilings, slanting and creaking floors, plus there was also a winding staircase up to our room. As a consequence, the history and charm of the building takes centre stage and you feel transported away from modern life.
We were lucky enough to stay in one of the large luxury double rooms and we were impressed from the first minute of our arrival. The vast room was adorned in the style of a lavish country home, complete with deep purples and opulent gold. The bed itself forming the focal point of the room and its golden Florentine bedheads seemed sublimely apt for the setting.
A personal highlight of the room had to be the freestanding zinc roll-top bathtub. The bathtub had the sense of history and elegance you would expect of a museum piece. Simply stunning – we didn’t know whether to admire it or use it!
There was also the added touch of ambient, candle style lighting from the ceilings and this gave the room a romantic feel in the late evening.
Stemming from the name of the hotel itself, two bedrooms are also adorned with striking archangel murals (as below) – one a re-creation of The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci, another from Fra Angelico’s Angel of the Annunciation. There are also 4 courtyard rooms offering views over the private courtyard and featuring power showers.
All of this talk of the history of the building isn’t to say that you will be without your modern comforts, as these have all been thought of also. This includes flat screen TVs, Wi-Fi, direct dial telephones, handmade Bramley body products, Newby Teas and Grumpy Mule coffee with fresh milk in your fridge on arrival. Hairdryers and ironing facilities are also available on request. The blend of modern and old is just spot on here.
Dogs are welcome in our standard courtyard rooms at a one off charge of £10 per dog and Z beds are available at £15 per night.
The Archangel’s setting and décor are dashed with thoughtful touches and graces which make for a highly memorable experience. Having relaxed and admired the setting for some time, we then began exploring the rest of the property.
Dining and drinks
Nestled in the heart of the hotel is a gorgeous 3 storey restaurant built into an old hay barn. The walls have been stripped back, whitewashed, adorned with the work of local artists and the seating area stretches across mezzanine levels enclosed by glass. The result is an open and airy dining experience, yet with subtle reminds all-around of the building’s long history.
The Archangel prides itself on a seasonal cocktail menu and takes on classic combinations. Ross, the hotel’s landlord, spoke passionately about the team’s desire to be the best in the area at offering high-end and contemporary cocktails. Having sampled various offerings from the menu we can certainly vouch for their quality.
A particular favourite to soak up the early Autumn sun was the “It’s Miller Thyme”. This cocktail combined Martin Miller’s Gin, homemade cranberry cordial, Thyme & Fever Tree tonic. Beautifully balanced, refreshing and powered by the delicious homemade cranberry cordial, this was wonderful. For only £7.50 this was also great value and after this we set up at the bar to sample a few more.
The menu at the Archangel offers the best locally sourced ingredients and we got a sense that there is a strong relationship between the restaurant and producers from the area. Ross had a strong knowledge of the produce used in the kitchen and personally checks the quality of the produce regularly, in order to ensure the kitchen works at its very best.
Hearty, full of flavour and yet still aesthetically appealing, dishes are unassuming and unpretentious. This is the kind of food we love.
I began the meal with rope grown mussels, cider & thyme sauce. Full of rich creamy flavour, this may have just been one of the best mussel dishes I have ever tried. The cider and thyme giving the rope grown mussels a taste to enjoy and savour. It was one of those fantastic mussel dishes where you continue eating the sauce even when all the mussels are gone.
Moving on into mains, I went for the Flat Iron steak (£17.95), with a wonderful port & stilton source. The steak itself came slightly underdone and therefore not quite to taste; however, the depth of the port & stilton sauce made up for this and made for a great main. The oven roasted rump of lamb (£16.95), with red wine and pancetta lentils was also a successful dish. Tender lamb and the red wine worked together for a great autumnal feel.
From start to finish the flavour of each dish was big, honest and rustic. One element not touched on is the warm and friendly service. Each member of staff was welcoming, attentive and friendly. We felt at home during our meal and for the duration of our stay.
There are so many other details we could have added into this piece; however, there is so much charm about the Archangel, that we would implore you to take visit and make your own discoveries. A truly memorable visit and one we would look to repeat in the future.
Small standard rooms are available from £80 midweek and this rises to £100 Friday-Saturday. Luxury doubles (such as the one we stayed in), are available from £110 midweek and this rises to £150 at the weekends. Room rates are inclusive of a top notch breakfast. To book your stay please visit here.
Disclosure: For this blog post we were able to gain access to a sample product or service.
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