Chic not chintz
If you’re looking for a chic – not chintzy – luxury break in the countryside, I’ve found just the place: a beautifully converted Methodist chapel in north east Somerset – without a trace of Cath Kidston in sight.
The teeny, tiny village of Ubley (it’s so small the address is The Chapel, The Street – you won’t get lost), in the gloriously green Chew Valley, surrounded by the Mendip Hills – a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – in north east Somerset, just south of Bristol and Bath.
Austere Victorian Methodist chapel and chic, chintz-free luxury mash up. Think tall, arched stained glass windows, a roof soaring into the rafters, original oak flooring, luxe furnishings, cool lighting, stainless steel and glass mezzanine, state of the art technology, super-duper kitchen, copper baths – and lots of jewel coloured velvet. Oh and you get your own working organ and a pulpit.
The view – not from the bridge – but the glass and stainless steel mezzanine. That cast iron chandelier’s about 5 feet across.
You can loll around on the giant L-shaped sofa – there’s a 52″ flat screen TV which spins out from the wall.
Lie back on the chaise longue and peruse an arty book.
The recital is about to start…
Pity it was just Chopsticks.
The owners are in the music biz – hence the piano, the music posters and photos on the walls and the state-of-the-art Sonos music system.
Lots of religious kitsch dotted around. It’s an ex-church, innit? This is the downstairs loo – the splashback is made up of hymn sheets.
Up on the first floor are the two opulent double bedrooms. With their rich colours, kelims and velvets, they’re almost (stylishly) womb-like.
Bedding is crisp white Egyptian, duvets are down and fur rugs are faux, with Roberts radios and a telescope to see across the fields.
No, nothing to be seen… except nature
Step out of the huge free-standing copper roll top bath or the copper rain shower onto the original parquet flooring. Fluffy white towels await, natch.
SCOFF AND QUAFF – IN OR OUT
The kitchen’s huge and well-equipped with a 5-burner range cooker, high end gadgetry and cookery books to inspire, so with a Waitrose delivery booked there’s really no need to leave if you fancy eating in. It’s an incredibly sociable place to prepare food – perch up at the central island while you watch, chop and knock back the booze – but if you can’t be fagged to cook, the owners can arrange a chef for you. Plenty of room to dine at the rough hewn table. Everything’s been chosen with taste and care.
You’re spoilt for options when it comes to eating out. Within spitting distance you’ve got the Michelin-starred The Pony & Trap, The Ethicurean, an innovative vegetaran restaurant in a Victorian walled garden and the organic farmers Yeo Valley Canteen, both of which recently featured on Channel 4’s Hidden Restaurants with Michel Roux Jr.
We had supper at the owner’s pub, the Ring O Bells in the neighbouring village of Compton Martin, which is a 15-minute walk across the fields if you’re going for lunch or on a summer’s evening, and less than 5 minutes by car. It’s just how you imagine a country pub should be – warm welcome, huge inglenooks, beams, quirky bits on the walls, good wholesome food and great beer – except that the likes of Kylie, Tinnie Tempah and Coldplay have been known to drop by and play.
AROUND AND ABOUT
It’s all about the countryside here, with the Chew Valley and the Mendips right outside the door. Lots of trails over the hills for walking – Hunter wellies provided in the porch – and mountain biking (the owners can organise), sailing on Chew Valley lake, trout fishing on Blagdon Lake and birdwatching, You can join a shoot or go foraging with an expert. If you need a city fix after all the fresh air, you can be in Bath or Bristol in about half an hour.
Good for: One or two couples, or a small group of friends (there are two z-beds for the mezzanine gallery) wanting some sybaritic time away. Music lovers – there’s that sound system, piano and the organ.
Not for: This is a grown up space, rather than for families with young kids: the outside space isn’t great for running around and you couldn’t rest easy with that glass balcony (eeek).
The damage: You may be surprised. Costs for a week, low season Nov–March £850 (excl. Christmas & New Year); mid-season April, May, Sept, Oct £900; high season July & August, Spring Bank Holiday & Easter break £1200. Christmas & New Year (just ask). Short breaks, minimum of three nights, Nov– March £600; other times (excl. Christmas, New Year, Easter and Bank Holidays) £650–£750.
The Chapel, The Street, Ubley, BS40 6PD. ringobellscomptonmartin.co.uk/the-chapel