If you missed part one of our England adventures you can read it here to get yourself caught up with the first part of the trip.
Sunday morning we woke up bright and early and headed out into a sleepy Notting Hill to pick up a rental car at Paddington Station.
Travel Tip: we used a car rental app called Virtuo, which is essentially a UK version of Turo which is always how we rent cars in the States.
It was an exceptionally easy process to pick the car up – everything operates out of their app, even the key is just your phone – and from there we tenuously started driving back to the Airbnb to check out and grab our luggage. Lee did an excellent job of driving in London - it was not just a brand new big city, it was a brand new big city with completely different road instructions and opposite side of the road rules.
Our destination was a place with a bit more breathing room and beauty. London was incredible, but the part of the trip I was looking forward to the most was the countryside – specifically the place we were staying: The Newt in Somerset.
Our first countryside stop, however, was the legendary Stonehenge. I've been once before and remember this place being the stuff of legends. We arrived around 11:30ish on a sunny Sunday and although we were initially worried about the crowds, it seems like most of the people were getting there around 1:30 when we were heading out.
Usually, Lee and I are not top tourist destination people, but we were so glad we visited Stonehenge.
It was a beautiful day so we opted to walk the 2 mile road out to Stonehenge from the Visitor's Center instead of taking the bus. There is a beautiful paved walking path that goes out to the Stones and made for an enjoyable countryside stroll. The Stones themselves, well there's a reason they are legendary.
Lee and I both commented that the landmark had an air of importance about it. The site felt ancient. Otherworldly. Buy a guidebook when you're there to learn more about the site history. Most of the alien-built theories have been discredited but the mystery of the building still exists and adds to the ambience of the whole site.
Stonehenge is probably one of my favorite tourist sites in any country I've visited and if given the chance I would absolutely go again. On our way back to the Visitor's Center we decided to take the path less traveled and cut through the cow and sheep pastures that surround the Stones. In England, there is a Right to Roam law which allows anyone to walk wherever they want without fear of trespassing.
So, we walked amongst grazing cows who were quite disinterested in their visitors, but it truly made my heart happy. I'm not sure if I stopped smiling.
The Newt In Somerset
From Stonehenge we headed a bit more west and ended at our destination for the next three days – The Newt in Somerset.
When I say there are no words to describe this place, I actually mean I was rendered speechless when we pulled into the front gates.
The best way to describe this place is everywhere you look is a movie set. A 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie set. The Newt in Somerset is a 2,000 acre working farm and gardens with 2 different hotel properties scattered throughout the grounds, open to the public gardens, museums, three restaurants, a spa, woodlands, Roman Villa ruins and so much more.
The property - formerly called The Emily Estate – dates back to the 1680s. In 2017 it was bought by a South African billionaire and turned into a 5 Star resort that feels less like a resort and more like an enchanting, beautiful step back into time where ladies lounged in manor gardens, men played croquet on the front lawn and the biggest concern of the day was what sandwich to have with high tea.
I could wax eloquent about the orchards we traversed every day in our own golf cart or the sheep grazing on the front lawn. I could write a whole post on the spa experience and how the outdoor pool at golden hour transported you far away from any worries or cares of the day.
The 3 hour dinners we had in candle-lit greenhouses under the stars changed the way we looked at food. But a few specifics in case you too want to visit this magical place:
- We stayed in the Farmhouse which is about 2 miles away from the main house: Hadspen House
- You get to the main house, gardens, etc. via golf cart - or you could walk it if you wanted
- There's not a bad room on the property. We stayed in the Emma room which was on the second floor of the old farmhouse overlooking the cut flower garden. I think next time we go back we'll book a Hadspen House Room just to get a different feel of the property.
- Breakfast is included every morning
- Both the Farmyard and the Main House have a fully stocked bar free and available to guests from 3:30-6 every day. The Main House also has a High Tea served at 3:30 daily for hotel guests.
- There are three restaurants on the property and you could be there for a week and not feel like you had to leave the property
- There are walking trails, museums about gardens, things like hidden grottos, Bee Safaris, foraging tours, ancients mounds giving you a direct view into the ruins of King Arthur's Camelot that's only 4 miles away.
I'm not ashamed to say I shed tears when we had to leave. Three days was not long enough on this property. Actually, I'm not sure a lifetime would be long enough here. Lee and I both agreed this would not be the last time we'd be back and are already planning our 10th anniversary week back at The Newt.
Next week: A review of our first Michelin Star dining experience, castle ruins, and wrapping up the trip in Marylebone.