For the past few weeks, I’ve been avidly checking all of the bargain sites in a bid to try and secure a cheap last minute getaway. When I say cheap, I don’t necessarily mean I’m looking for a steal but just one that’s affordable for the average person like me, who doesn’t have a few grand laying about to blow out on a getaway.
And low and behold, I haven’t found one.
I don’t know what’s happened lately but everything seems to be very overpriced and there’s always hidden extras that they don’t tell you about until you reach the final stages of going through with the purchase. Nothing has wowed me enough to justify spending £500 + each on a few days away. And so I’ve kind of forgotten about it.
However, the idea came to me while I was browsing wowcher, cooking in my loft room in the (freak) UK heat. I wondered whether a stay-cation might suffice and if so, where in the UK would I like to go. Having lived in Bournemouth for the past three years and exploring Brighton, Poole and Dorset, I wanted to venture somewhere different.
And so eventually, we settled on Taunton – a gorgeous little country town in Somerset. David actually used to live there for his previous job – and so for him, it was to be a little reunion with some of the friends he hadn’t seen in years.
I discovered a gorgeous hotel online – the beautiful 4 star Castle Hotel – and booked us in for the weekend! It was meant to be.
Unfortunately, due to David working shifts, we weren’t able to leave London until 9pm, so we eventually arrived in Taunton twenty minutes past midnight. Even then, the illuminated statuesque hotel was rather magnificent, with a beautiful grey stone exterior, emblazoned with cascading ivy.
I knew we’d made the right decision.
After a swift check in, we found our way through the winding corridors to our quiet and quaint little room, which was tucked away at the end of the building – with beautiful views over the town square. We collapsed into bed and slept soundly, ready to explore the very next day.
And explore we did. After a hearty breakfast in the hotels Jazz cafe (they even kindly made me a special soy milk porridge with banana and brown sugar!), we jumped in the car and headed to the nearest beach.
Despite being in the middle of the countryside (I’m a city girl at heart) I was pleasantly surprised at just how many things there were to do in the area. The hotel provided a rather helpful guide to the area – however we decided to go off course a little and drive down to Lyme Regis since the weather was so beautiful!
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+ glitter tattoos by Beach So Chic
I’d heard about Lyme Regis before but never expected it to be anything more than your average seaside town. Having spent the past few years at University in Bournemouth (where the white sand is imported to give it that ‘holiday’ feel), I didn’t really think I’d be that enamoured or interested in elsewhere. However the winding streets, real ice cream parlours and unique vintage stores gave it a much more intriguing feel. We spent the best day exploring – and made a pact to visit again soon!
Eventually, we made our way back to the Castle (it feels very grand to be saying that) to get ready for a rather spectacular dinner we had planned with friends, in the fine dining Castle Bow restaurant. Although the hotel does have a less formal option for those wanting something a bit more casual, we were excited to get all dressed up for an evening of glamour.
And I have to say, an evening of glamour it was.
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In stark contrast to having to practically do a backflip to get the waiters attention at our usual favoured, but rather slow weekend restaurant, we were pretty much waited on hand and foot. Our waters glasses were refilled the moment they reached the halfway mark and the table was brushed down between courses so we didn’t have to suffer the dreaded crumb-elbow-saga but it was all done rather seamlessly, so much so that our conversations weren’t interrupted. The staff just seemed to slip past and tidy things up, making us feel like royals.
Well, you know – we were in a castle after all, I suppose.
I won’t take you into each and every course of what we ate. Instead I’ll provide a few pictures for evidence that we did indeed eat rather than purely drink and chat the night away. The food was absolutely delicious however the portion sizes were a tad on the small side. This is of course something you do expect with fine dining however I did have to laugh when my 6ft 2 boyfriend was presented with two tiny pieces of lamb and a small pot of gravy. His face was a picture!
Saying that, the richness of the flavour means that looks can be deceptive, since you soon get full on taste rather than the amount you’re chewing on. You know what they say, quality over quantity.
They were super accommodating about my intolerances, even bringing out special bread, oils and making up a main course to suit my taste preferences, without making a fuss – which is always reassuring when you’re in a group and don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb when you’re having to ‘tweak’ the menu.
It’s not something we’d do (or be able to afford) on a regular occasion, but it’s a lovely place to get all dressed up and feel formal for the evening. Even if we did spend the first five minutes stifling giggles about how quiet it was, whispering to one another about the menu.
The interior of the beautiful Castle Bow restaurant was decorated to reflect an ‘Art Deco’ feel – which we really loved, since it made the dinner feel extra special and glitzy!
We were sad when the evening came to an end but these thoughts were soon dispelled when we knew we’d be spending another night in our princess room – complete with macarons and home-made jellies.
I guess I could get used to this whole princess-castle thing after all.
Our two-night trip came to an end on the Sunday, when we made the three-hour journey back to London. It might seem like a long time in the car but really, it’s far less in comparison than if you were jetting off abroad – since it takes the same amount of time sometimes getting through check-in and security – eek!
Treating ourselves to a stay-cation was exactly what we needed! Long enough away to refresh, take some time out to be a couple and meet up with friends. But close enough we weren’t too far from home and didn’t have to fork out a small fortune on flights!
Have you ever visited Taunton? Or are you opting for a stay-cation this year?