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This week we were exclaiming ‘Lord love a duck!’ as we marvelled at The Muddy Duck – a cosy pub turned luxury hotel near Bath – formerly known as the Kings Arms. Our Smith spy (Keith Oswin, a Wiltshire native from our Smith24 team) propped up the bar with a whisky, put away a gourmet meal of spiffed-up pub grub and cocooned himself in a spacious room with a selection from the DVD library; leaving infatuated with this country guesthouse’s new incarnation.
Muddy Duck luxury hotel Bath

Need to exorcise some ghosts? Where better to do so than a pub-cum-hotel built on the remains of a former monastery? This Bath bolthole served its ghost-slaying purpose admirably – as my former local there were a few lurking spirits alongside the ones served on the rocks – but staying here also gave me the chance to see what that fuss has been about since the Kings Arms was reborn as the Muddy Duck a month ago – the signs on the road may use the old moniker, but inside it’s a whole new space. Bath is just a drop kick down the road as well, a real blast from the past for Wiltshire natives like myself.

Luxury hotel in Wiltshire

Here, you step into a real country pub where a lingering aroma of wood smoke promises log fires and big armchairs to perch in as you nurse a large malt. This being summer in England the fire was already lit, but before the whisky could be poured Joe – mine host and proprietor – tore me away on a guided tour of the rooms; Room 3 is so big it probably has two postcodes. We then crossed the car park to my room where the downstairs bedroom had a marshmallow-soft mattress, which could swallow its occupants whole, and the lounge upstairs had its own woodburner. They’ve made great use of the space while offering unspoiled views across the fields; raid the DVD library, lock the door and you could hide for the weekend quite easily. However, this Smith food-fan felt the restaurant beckon. The Muddy Duck offers sensibly priced local fare – a step up from pub-grub but not as precious as haute cuisine. When full I tottered back to finish the film (and the sauvignon blanc) before dozing off, replete in every sense.

Boutique hotel in BathThe Muddy Duck has kept the traditional pub feel while adding a modern twist that simply works. The bar and restaurant have retained a hint of gentlemen’s club and the bedrooms have individual quirks, while the two new out-bedrooms are modern but not impersonally so. Room 3 would be a perfect honeymoon suite (come to think of it you could probably hold the ceremony in there too!) and Joe and his team are informal yet attentive, the perfect hosts for a cold, wet weekend when the activity of choice involves venturing from your woodburner-adjacent seat only when you need a top up from the bar. The locals may have had a hissy fit over the name change but their stomachs could not be denied and having returned to the restaurant they’ve found the hotel to be going from strength to strength.

Book a stay at this charming country inn or browse our range of boutique hotels in Bath

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