The Mount Somerset, Von Essen

LOCATION: A mere hop away from Taunton in Somerset.

LOCATION: A mere hop away from Taunton in Somerset.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: If on your way to The Mount Somerset you manage to resist the urge to drive straight off the M5 into a ditch to make the pain stop then the rewards are great.Not least of all the chance to play croquet on a perfect lawn.The finest of all the gentleman sports sums up the spirit of this colossus of a country house – elegant, impeccably manicured, aesthetically traditional, but buckets of fun. High ceilings and roaring windows permeate an interior that has so much desirable furniture the temptation to hire a van and remove it in the dead of night requires constant quashing.After about 30 seconds in residence one feels like a guest in a particularly wealthy friends house.Strolling past the grand piano on the way to breakfast sporting shorts and flip flops in a setting befitting a posh period drama should feel like an uncomfortable clash of worlds.But somehow it doesn’t and I think that’s down to the staff.Pleasant, efficient, attentive and unobtrusive. A tricky combo to pull off but pulled off it is.

THE FACTS:  Henlade House, as it was originally named, is a Georgian building on Stoke Hill looking due north over Henlade and Thornfalcon built in the early 19th century.It was turned into The Mount Somerset in the 90s and is currently part of Von Essen.It sits on a four acre plot of land and the gardens are award-winning.

WHO’S IT FOR: The breakfast in any hotel gives a clue to the types of guests it suits and here the variety of table sizes and ages of the people sat at them gives the game away – just about everyone fits.Obviously its serene setting is not for people looking for a raucous time but neither is it for the hyper-stuffy who enjoy their luxury delivered within an old-fashioned vice.  

A GOOD BASE FOR: A short drive away are a variety of fair and foul weather delights including Exmoor and the Somerset Levels, coastal paths, the beaches of Charmouth and Lyme Regis, Glastonbury, Wells Cathedral, Hestercombe Gardens and Dunster Castle.

WOW: An unexpectedly swish spa has been added this year and it’s a beauty.The website tells you it’s ‘positioned as the jewel in Somerset’. I have no idea what this means but I do know that two floors are filled with all of the things that aid relaxation and general chilled out-ness.

HOW MUCH: From £145 a night