The Newt in Somerset Hotel & Spa
Celebrating all things Somerset, a 23-room hotel with state-of-the-art spa is now open.
The Newt in Somerset, a working county estate near Bruton including hotel and spa, is now open to guests. Set within Hadspen House – a Grade II* Listed Georgian Manor House – and its Stable Yard, the hotel has 23 individually designed bedrooms, with guests encouraged to embrace country living and explore the historic estate and surrounding area. The bucolic setting has inspired a garden-to-table menu in the restaurants, as well as botanically based treatments in the world-class spa.
The hotel and spa follow the opening earlier this year of the formal and productive gardens, ancient woodlands, apple orchards, cyder press, restaurants and farm shops. The ethos of The Newt in Somerset is to celebrate all things Somerset, with a focus on the local and sustainable. Everything is rooted in respect for the land, the environment and all creatures living on it.
Speaking to PREMIER HOSPITALITY MAGAZINE, Simon Morray-Jones from Simon-Morray Jones Architects said: “We were first invited to visit the clients other hotel Babylonstoren which provided a real insight into their approach to hospitality and design. Whilst the scope, imagination and attention to detail was somewhat daunting, you could not help but be inspired and excited at the prospect of doing something similar with an English country house hotel.
“The clients were integral to the process throughout – in particular Karen Roos who brings a lifetime of experience and genuine passion for all aspects of design. We were granted an extraordinary amount of creative freedom during the concept stage but it was Karen’s skill as an editor that was key to ensuring there was an overall clarity and consistency throughout”.
“We think everybody involved was fully aware what a unique opportunity this project was and, whilst challenging, learned an enormous amount both creatively and technically from the experience”.
“In terms of its importance, helping breathe new life into a historic estate – with it creating employment & tourism to a rural community and, ultimately, seeing people enjoying the fruits of your labour is deeply rewarding.”
History of Hadspen House
Hadspen House has a fascinating history. First built between 1687-1690 by William Player, who described it as a ‘Gentleman’s House,’ it was extensively remodelled in Georgian times. Henry Hobhouse II, a lawyer from Bristol acquired the estate in 1785, adding a façade of local limestone. His descendants would live here for the next two centuries, remodelling the house and adding more naturalistic parkland. Reference to this interesting family of activists, politicians and conservationists can be seen by guests throughout the estate.
Hotel Design & Interiors
Beard Construction acted as main contractors on the project and helped transform the house into the hotel. Mark Buckley from Beard Construction said: “This was a new Client for us and the project was competitively tendered. We understood that there would be some other projects in that area so we were really keen to be involved from the get go.
“The project involved part new build and refurbishment of the existing building, which is the actual hotel. There are a number of buildings on the site including a spa and lots of other attractions.”
In designing the hotel and gardens, the past is imagined by combining historical elements with contemporary architecture and playful design. Creative direction was provided by owner Karen Roos, a former editor of ELLE Decoration South Africa and also the creator of Babylonstoren in South Africa.
Simon continued: “Country houses such as this were built for entertaining on a grand scale so the house functions much as it always did in terms of a Reception, Drawing Room and Library etc. The most dramatic change is the kitchen which, historically hidden from view, is now a major focal point; guests now walk through the space to access the dining areas beyond. Whilst this presented some technical challenges it did seem appropriate that, as a working estate, its produce takes centre stage.”
Local materials and craftsmanship were incorporated into the design and architecture. Mellow yellow coloured Hadspen limestone and blue lias were quarried nearby and used in a myriad of forms, while the skills of local blacksmiths, carpenters, architects and stonemasons are celebrated.
The design of the hotel aims to echo the garden, with a colour palette of greens ranging from sage to emerald, with contrasting bursts of colour. Sweeping views of the countryside are in evidence from windows and terraces. Old sits alongside new, such as original oak panelling in the Botanical Rooms lit with statement Tom Dixon fittings, which also hang over the staircase as an oversized chandelier; or vintage record player in the Croquet Room, to be enjoyed while reclining in a surprising Moros hanging chair. A range of antiques were collected over many years by Karen, placed alongside bespoke pieces and hyper-modern additions.
Simon added: “Without question, one of the stand out features is the use of architectural glazing. This was very much driven by Koos who wanted the modern additions to have as minimal impact as possible. This pushed the limits of structural glass but the natural light and views it provides are extremely successful. Of all the technical challenges the Contractors faced the setting out and installation of these huge, extremely fragile and extremely expensive sheets of glass with virtually no tolerances was the most impressive.
“The clients also wanted to utilise the historic vaults. This provided our lighting designers and engineers tasked with concealing cabling etc. with some real challenges but what they achieved completely transformed this area making it one of the more interesting guest experiences.”
Individually designed bedrooms in the main house have retained original Georgian features and proportions with sash windows and clean lines. Several have four-poster beds and free-standing baths. Stable Yard rooms have been converted into sophisticated accommodation while retaining original features from their historic function. Contemporary touches abound, also larders, stocked with homemade treats, Dyson hairdryers, Nespresso coffee machines and flat screen televisions. Twenty-three bedrooms are scattered across the main house and its Stable Yard, Clock House and other outbuildings, each varying in design.
Hotel guests can explore the garden after hours, relax on sun terraces, play records, take high tea in the library and play croquet on the lawn or badminton on the private grass court, affectionately named Old Knobbly after its surrounding cloud-shaped yew hedge.
Mark added: “To be honest the project was far from smooth. What you tend to find with renovation projects like this is that, when you are knocking things down and moving things around, you uncover lots of things you weren’t expecting. Even though the brief was fairly loose to begin with, it evolved as the project went on so we worked with the client to make sure it was executed correctly.
“Feedback has been positive so far. There has been a good response and we were actually invited to test out the hotel before opening so that was nice for us all,” said Mark. “Overall it has been a good project for us with further work following on from the hotel work so it has all been positive.”
The Botanical Rooms & Bar
Every plate of food on the Estate features something grown or foraged at The Newt in Somerset. Gardeners and chefs work closely together to harvest fresh ingredients daily – over 350 vegetables and salad varieties are cultivated.
The Botanical Rooms is the hotel’s restaurant with 70 covers. The restaurant offers a window on the house’s Georgian heritage. It harks back to a true country house kitchen, with head chef Ben Abercrombie serving a menu shaped by the lifecycle of the estate. Dishes include just-picked fruit and vegetables from the garden, while a unique grill designed for the kitchen and fired from the Estate’s woodland prepares venison and meat from the area. The restaurant comprises two spaces – an immersive Glass Room filled with orange trees and greenery which adjoins the intimate Oak Room. Dried botanicals line the walls and comfortable leather banquette seating makes this the ideal space for feasting. Horns & Pigtails, a vaulted cellar underneath the restaurant is home to an extensive wine collection and private feasts.
The dramatic bar, painted in a deep teal, contrasts with the flat gold bar and vibrant-coloured bamboo chairs by Sebastian Herkner for Ames, ensuring it will be the place to enjoy a creative cocktail from a menu inspired by heritage – such as the Penelo-pea, made with homemade apple gin and peas from the garden.
The Newt in Somerset offers treatments inspired by an English Country garden. Located where the cow barns once stood, the interiors embrace a sense of calm and wellbeing. Hadspen stone meets forest marble, glass and natural oak, to give a luxurious finish and plenty of natural light. In the seven treatment rooms, locally-sourced botanical ingredients are used.
Spa facilities include an indoor swimming pool an indoor/outdoor hydro pool, sauna, steam room and halotherapy room. Signature treatments include a mud rasul experience in a private couples’ chamber and an authentic full-scale hamman. Facials, wraps, massages and manicures are also offered.
Food and drink offerings are designed to promote nutritional health with kombucha and pickles for gut health, olives and chickpeas for healthy skin. Outside, a medicinal herb collection evokes monastic gardens of the medieval era, providing a calming space for guests to soothe body and mind.
The high-spec gym is located opposite with views over the hotel’s private kitchen garden.
At The Newt in Somerset, gardens take centre stage, with acres of formal gardens designed by renowned Italo-French garden architect Patrice Taravella and cared for by an expert gardening team. They provide sustenance for the body and inspiration for the mind, supplying all restaurants on the estate with herbs, flowers, fruit, vegetables and honey.
The gardens have a beloved horticultural heritage, with a reputation of new and rare plants. Three varieties were created at Hadspen and still thrive today – Astrantia ‘Hadspen Blood’, Lobelia ‘Hadspen Purple,’ and Anemone ‘Hadspen Abundance.’
Visitors are led on a journey through time: from a Baroque maze to colour rooms, to a Victorian fragrance garden and modern water gardens. There are also wildflower meadows and ancient woodland walks to discover along with the Estate’s deer park. A contemporary moving installation from Amsterdam’s Studio Drift is on display in the Threshing Barn, while interactive ‘nests’ by Porky Hefer are popular with visitors and resident chickens alike.
At the core of the garden nestles a Parabola walled garden with a comprehensive collection of trained apple trees, arranged in a maze. The Parabola encloses some 3,000 square metres of garden within 9ft of walls and contains 460 apple trees of 267 varieties. UK cultivars are divided by county.
Daily Garden Tours are led by the expert garden team, alongside a variety of other talks, tours and workshops across the Estate.
Access Lifts specialises in bespoke access projects, from residential and domestic settings to designing and installing lifts in renowned buildings around the country.
The company undertake many projects in historic and listed buildings, where other lift companies do not have the knowledge and capabilities to design the right solution. Access Lifts was founded by Rob Edwards after he identified a gap in the market to design and supply completely bespoke access solutions that matched the character of the buildings they were installed in.
One of the company’s most recent projects was The Newt in Somerset.
Jono Edwards, Project Manager, explained:
“For this project we were initially contacted by Simon Morray-Jones Architecture to come up with an idea on how to convert an antique Victorian lift car into a modern lift that would eventually become the lift for the main house.
“We used the majority of the original lift car’s mahogany panelling and refurbished other parts including the Waygood & Co brass threshold plate, the original operating instructions, the green leather passengers’ seat and even refurbished the original brass push buttons with new modern contacts and wiring.
“It’s lovely to see how we were able to adapt such a beautiful 130+ year old lift car onto a modern lift frame. We even created a brand new sliding lift car door to match the existing patinated wood using specialist joiners and French polishers.”
Cantilever Bars provide bespoke bar designs and installations from ‘brief to build’. Our specialist design studio creates well-planned schemes that deliver complex beverage operations. Working alongside client teams, we deliver the aesthetics of the bar using our vast knowledge and experience in an extensive palette of materials.
We develop and innovate how bars work, creating products to solve particular needs, such as our Calabrese ™ sink and Cantilever bar section. Our impressive client list is testament to our ability to design great bars tailored to meet precise and unique operational briefs.
Working with The Emily Estate we developed a range of bars for The Newt in Somerset both in the Main House and the Cyder House. The bars are designed to meet specific operational briefs with atheistic styling in keeping with the venue.
Whilst making the bars function and operate to specification, we also delivered detailing and finishing in stunning materials including the green Pyrolave tiles on the restaurant bar, bespoke stainless steel brick tiled fronts to the Cyder Bar and the delicately corrugated brass front to the Lounge Bar.
Our experience and unique set of skills ensures Cantilever Bars continue to lead the market in the innovation and delivery of some of the world’s best bars.
Ken Biggs Contractors Ltd
First founded in 1928, Ken Biggs Contractors Ltd has a well-regarded reputation as a building and construction specialist. This encompasses high-quality new builds, as well as refurbishments to hotels, offices, flats, domestic housing, commercial and industrial buildings, schools, hospitals, historic building conservation and restoration.
The company was recently engaged as the main contractor on 5 contracts at The Newt in Somerset:
- Construction of the visitor attraction buildings to include the new entrance barn, entrance ticket office, visitor shop, cider press, cider house, bakery, glasshouse, wet shop, gardeners buildings and garden landscape works.
- Construction of the floating glass Garden Café Building in the woods.
- The alteration and refurbishment of the existing Clock House to create four individual luxury hotel rooms.
- Construction of the new Spa building incorporating a new swimming pool and treatment rooms.
- Construction of the new Gymnasium.
A spokesperson for the company commented:
“From the commencement of the projects at The Newt, all at Ken Biggs Contractors Ltd have felt a sense of pride to be involved with the works to complete the vision of our Client and transform The Hadspen Estate into the place it is today. These high-quality projects have allowed us to demonstrate our skillsets and level of expertise in working with traditional and modern materials.
“We pride ourselves in being a reliable family firm, who are financially stable and able to meet the requirements to ensure each and every contract we undertake is completed to a high standard, on time, successfully and to the satisfaction of our Clients. We provide a personal service to all who engage with us and treat every client, employee and sub-contractor in a respectful way, which is one of our family values.”
To find out more, please visit www.ken-biggs.co.uk.
Peritus CSL specialises in bespoke internal fit outs, whilst also undertaking heritage and restoration works. The company itself has been operating for over 10 years whilst its core company staff have more than 60 years of experience and knowledge to call upon when needed. Peritus CSL aims to provide a single source solution for all your construction requirements.
Peritus CSL was previously contacted by Beard Construction to undertake the complex internal fit out of The Newt in Somerset.
Works undertaken involved structural 1st / 2nd fix carpentry, dry lining and plastering works, MF and suspended ceilings, bespoke floors and walls, external timber cladding, masonry, roofing works, fire stopping, French polishing and all bespoke joinery. The bespoke joinery was manufactured in the company’s joinery shop in South Wales.
A large part of the company’s projects are for the top 10, tier 1 main contractors nationwide but it also undertakes privately funded projects.
Scott Short, Contracts Director, commented:
“This project was a fantastic project for Peritus CSL to be involved in. It allowed us as a company to showcase our expertise in our field whilst delivering impeccable workmanship within the extremely high level of artisan / finishes requested. It also provided us with the opportunity to showcase our bespoke joinery to the wider audience and attract a new client base within the hospitality industry.
“As a company, we take pride in our quality, consistency and our value for money service we offer.”
The Timber Frame Company
The Timber Frame Company (TFCo) specialises in the design, specification, construction, conservation and restoration of heavy post and beam timber frame buildings and structures.
The company’s frames are constructed with either traditional carpentry joints, contemporary engineered connections, or a combination of both, using Oak, Douglas Fir or Larch. TFCo combines modern timber technology with historic building methods to produce stunning hybrid buildings.
The company is involved with The Newt in Somerset as a specialist design-build partner in support of the client, architects and building contractors. TFCo designed and built the oak roofs for the Entrance Barn, Shop, Cyder Press Bar, Restaurant, and the suite of roofs over the Spa complex (including the swimming pool roof, solarium, reception and treatment rooms).
Jim Blackburn, Owner and Managing Director, said:
“It has been an honour to work closely with a client who has such vision and high standards, and who looks to employ local tradesman wherever possible. We are proud of our contribution to these ‘once in a lifetime’ buildings and have enjoyed working as part of a close-knit team where the collective expertise has resulted in creating spaces that can be enjoyed by the public and that will last for generations to come.
“As a bespoke specialist we pride ourselves in our ability to design and build beautiful timber structures to match a client’s aspirations on time and on budget.”
To find out more, please visit www.thetimberframe.co.uk.
Turner Baker is a chimney and fireplace specialist, providing expertise on everything from the hearth up to the chimney pot.
The company has been in operation for 15 years and in that time has worked at a number of prestigious locations, including Eynsham Hall, Palé Hall, Cowley Manor and the Lords of the Manor Hotel.
Most recently, Turner Baker was engaged at The New in Somerset. The work firstly involved surveying existing flues within the main property using CCTV to ascertain their condition before a decision was made by the client on which flues would remain in use. These flues were then lined with Furanflex liners, which are ideal for adapting to the complexities of flues in older properties.
Turner Baker worked closely with Jamb, who provided the fireplaces, to ensure that the size of the fireplace and the flue size corresponded.
A spokesperson for the company commented:
“Edward Turner, our Managing Director, has a huge amount experience in chimneys. He personally oversees projects and enjoys finding workable solutions for renovations such as The Newt in Somerset. Clients are attracted by his experience, theoretical knowledge and the fact that he applies his engineering background to the projects that he undertakes.
“As a business, we enjoyed working alongside a committed team of suppliers who are knowledgeable and respectful of the history of the buildings that they are working on.”
van Cronenburg specialises in the scheduling, design and manufacturing of high-end ironmongery.
The company’s foundry has existed since 1802 but van Cronenburg as it exists now began in 2008 when Peter and Régine van Cronenburg took it over, bringing with them a new spirit and dynamism. Headquartered in the medieval city of Ghent, Belgium, van Cronenburg boasts a highly-experienced and multi-talented, international team to deliver products of superb quality and the highest standards for professional advice.
Recently, the company was engaged at The Newt in Somerset where it provided advice and subsequently delivered all of the project’s ironmongery.
van Cronenburg mainly focuses on high-end residential projects but previous hospitality work includes Heckfield Place in Hampshire and Hotel Almhof Schneider in Austria.
Régine van Cronenburg commented:
“We have a huge amount of joy being involved in a project with such a passionate owners and dedicated teams of architects, builders, craftsmen and experts.
“As a company we take great pride in the exceptional teamwork that enables us to go above and beyond, project after project. We probably have the largest and widest collection and archive of historical architectural designs worldwide. This unparalleled knowledge of historical detail and processes combined with the most innovative technologies ensures that the designs are always historically and architecturally appropriate and accurate.”
SHC Tiling Limited
In operation for over 8 years, SHC Tiling Limited specialises in stone and ceramic tiling. The company has worked on numerous projects in a variety of sectors, including schools, hotels, offices, restaurants and many housing developments.
At The Newt in Somerset, it was responsible for carrying out all of the tiling including limestone flooring and the majority of the marble installations.
Bruce Huntley, Director, said:
“Whilst complicated, it was enjoyable being involved with a project that had so many bespoke elements where the focus was mainly on quality. We pride ourselves on being able to deliver clients requirements to a very high standard within the remit given.”