ON the level, this is a rather nice spot to stop and take in the view over the flat, fertile fields of a beautiful part of England.
Pardon the pun, but the rural retreat we stopped off at looks out over the Somerset Levels and is a fine place to stay over, especially if you need to chill out after a long drive.
The Webbington Hotel and Spa at Loxton, near Axbridge, is a well-known local feature on the wooded hillside of Crook Peak near the M5 motorway, handy as a place to take a welcome break as well as a relaxing base if you want to be near Weston Super Mare and other attractions.
We’ve had a couple of nights at this historic Best Western over the past few months and I was intrigued by the history of the place, which has clearly been altered radically over the years.
The original house was built by a rather well-connected chap called Herman Tiarks and designed to take advantage of the views across the valley, now bisected by the M5 which at night looks less of a scar amid the meadows with its twinkling ribbon of lights.
The fine building has long been an attraction in its own right, from being a posh country pile in Edwardian days to being a convalescent home for wounded soldiers during the First World War and a home for dozens of evacuees during the Second. As a country club in a later incarnation, it also starred as a top regional cabaret spot, where the likes of Freddie Starr, Bob Monkhouse, PJ Proby, The Drifters, The Rockin’ Berries, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Tommy Cooper, Gene Pitney and even glamour icon Jayne Mansfield topped the bill, as well as more local talents like Acker Bilk.
Those heady days are gone, as in most cabaret venues, but the oak-panelled Webbington is still prominent on the social scene as a popular spot for weddings and functions, and reckons it can cater very nicely for anything from a private dinner party to a black tie ball.
There’s also an accent now on the spa side of the operation, and Leisure Club facilities include a swimming pool, gym, sauna, steam room and treatment rooms, although I didn’t have the time to try any of these, apart from taking a quick look at the pool.
My way of keeping fit was to carry my luggage upstairs to a newly-refurbished room — the layout of the place means there’s no lift, but staff are more than happy to lend a hand.
Service was indeed pretty good, with the staff friendly as well as obliging and efficient, both in the bar, where we had a hearty snack in lieu of dinner; and in the Tiark Restaurant, where breakfast was served.
The restaurant serves a gastro pub-style menu for lunch and dinner, while breakfast features an extensive buffet of pastries and cold items, plus cooked-to-order items like a traditional full English.
The Webbington is reached by a seven-mile picturesque country run from the motorway — a satnav helps! — and it’s worth the drive to relax among the oak panelled walls.
“Webbington Hotel and Spa”:http://www.webbingtonhotelandspa.co.uk/