In Review

The Bradley Hare review: Wiltshire’s instant classic

Fine food and stylish rooms in a welcoming country pub

Viewed from the street that runs through Maiden Bradley, on the Wiltshire-Somerset border, the Bradley Hare looks like a fairly typical village pub. A handsome example of the type, no doubt, but that’s to be expected in this prosperous, picturesque corner of England. 

Step inside, however, and you’ll see the results of an unusually expert makeover. Though recently completed, it pulls off an ageless look with woven rugs, vintage furniture and expensive paint – all nicely judged to land at the intersection of cosy and cool.

The Bradley Hare dining room

Martin Morrell

Why stay at the Bradley Hare?

The artful refurbishment extends to the accommodation, where the colours are bolder and each guest room has its own sensibility. Contemporary art and brightly tiled bathrooms bring an outsize character to even the smaller spaces.

Across a courtyard, the Coach House provides five more rooms, more generously sized and more subtly decorated. Here the presiding aesthetic hails from Scandinavia, with plenty of natural fabrics and bare timber. English antique furniture keeps it true to its roots.  

The Bradley Hare guest room

Martin Morrell

What to do

The Bradley Hare is a short drive from Stourhead, where an 18th-century Palladian mansion stands in 2,500 acres of landscaped gardens. The library is now given over to an art gallery and the grounds, lovingly maintained by the National Trust, are home to a collection of grottoes, hill forts and follies including King Alfred’s Tower. The 205-step climb to its turrets earns a spectacular view of Wiltshire and Somerset.

The surrounding countryside is rich in history, and many footpaths will take you past ancient standing stones, monuments or forts. White Sheet Hill, in between Maiden Bradley and Stourhead, is the site of a Bronze Age settlement, whose mounds and ditches still trace out the contours of lives lived almost 4,000 years ago.

The most celebrated of all Neolithic sites, Stonehenge, is 20 miles to the east – and the more recent architecture of Bath and Salisbury are just as close.

What to eat

The Bradley Hare’s restaurant is one of the principal reasons to visit, having earned the admiration of The Guardian’s Jay Rayner. He praised the “impeccable” meat and a wine list that “deserves all sorts of hosannas”. 

It isn’t hard to see why: the short seasonal menu treads a careful line between invention and unpretentiousness. The flavours are fresh and bold, the presentation beautiful but unfussy. Expect locally sourced ingredients with pedigree and provenance, and a particular emphasis on fish and game. Venison – not always the most forgiving of meats – was tender and full of flavour.

Breakfast the morning after was equally enticing: a continental feast of king-sized croissants and other assorted pastries, accompanied by fresh fruit, cereal and a local dairy’s selection of butter and yoghurt.

Bradley Hare fish

Martin Morrell

How to book

Rooms from £135 per night (two-night minimum at weekends) on The Bradley Hare’s website.

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