Sometimes—particularly if you work in any sort of creative or visual field—you yearn to be in an environment that isn't overly contrived or considered; where design isn't an artistic statement so much as a matter of heritage or function. Sometimes, when you're away from home, what you want most is a good meal and a beer by the fire and a comfortable room upstairs to sleep off the day. In cases like those, there are few places in the world more perfect than the Talbot Inn.
Set in the pretty little village of Mells, Somerset, in southwest England, the Talbot Inn has served as a stagecoach stop for travelers since the 15th century. (Note the entrance arch wide enough to let those aforementioned stagecoaches pass through to the central courtyard.) It recently reopened after a major refurbishment that preserved its authentic character while making it an insider destination for people who care about their food and their beds. Despite its outward simplicity (the stone facade; the straightforward signage; the lack of any fanfare upon arrival), we all know how hard it is to find true gems like this.
In the Sitting Room, above, 500-year-old beams frame lofty barn ceilings above snug little armchairs and sofas, shelves stocked with books and board games, and a mural by local artists Fleur Kelly and Diana Byrne depicting the area's history.
The eight guest rooms—all different, and two with connecting rooms for kids—excel in juxtaposing traditional and contemporary English comforts. A roll-top bath by the window and a gigantic four-poster bed look clean-lined, not fussy, when sharing the space with a modern wingback chair next to a fireplace filled with logs. (Love this plush headboard for settling in bed with a good book.) Welsh wool blankets and waffle-knit–covered hot-water bottles ensure warmth year-round. And look at the separate shower in the image below, with its crisp white tile contrasting so evocatively with the textural wooden beams. A thick rug underfoot and a tweed-upholstered chair on which to drape your robe? Luxury indeed.
And don't get me started on how good the food looks, such as this plate of mussels above, or a classic rendition of fish and chips. Me, I'd go straight for the ploughman's lunch in the pub and wash down all those pickles, ham, and cheese with a pint of local ale.
(Photos courtesy of the Talbot Inn)The inn has a garden and a cobbled courtyard where you can sit and drink cider in the sun, marveling at all the people who must have passed through these walls before you and counting your blessings that there are still places in the world that feel this special.