Tucked neatly between the rolling Somerset hills is Bruton, a medieval market town that is essentially made up of one long street. Packed in this pocket-sized holiday destination are some of the most talked-about culinary spots of the moment, design-led lifestyle stores and quirky boutique hotels.
A 16th-century dovecote sits overlooking the town from atop Lusty Hill, surrounded by grazing cows. Ranked amongst the ‘coolest places in the UK to live’ by the Sunday Times, Bruton stands out from neighbouring bohemian Frome and crystal-filled Glastonbury. The town has become popular with Londoners thanks to the four daily trains direct from Paddington. This influx of city dwellers has proven beneficial for Bruton as these new settlers seemed to pack up and bring Notting Hill with them: stylish hotels and B&Bs in converted chapels and cottages sit neatly alongside sustainable, farm-to-table eateries in perfect harmony.
Bruton’s main street may be compact, but it is filled to the brim with independent shops, restaurants and cafes. Shops such as Swan Vintage advocate sustainability, selling repurposed and one-off pieces. Floral design studio, Lunaria, create seasonal installations, bespoke projects and elegant boxed bouquets. Popular with residents and visitors is Caro, a lifestyle store filled with Scandi homeware and pieces created by international makers. Foodies can lose an hour in The Godminster Shop, which holds daily cheese tasting sessions and stocks an array of local cheeses, deli snacks and drinks.
A short walk from the main hub of Bruton sits Hauser & Wirth Somerset. This contemporary Swiss gallery is a destination for contemporary makers and is housed in a former 18th-century farmhouse with its very own restaurant and farm shop on-site. The gallery’s 2014 opening was a pioneering moment for Bruton, sparking interest from those outside of Somerset. From here, a wave of artists, hoteliers and restaurateurs arrived.
Perched perfectly in the centre of Bruton’s main street, At The Chapel is a mecca for those who enjoy the blending of food, drink and design. The eight-room hotel is housed inside a 17th-century, Grade II listed former church. Alongside the bedrooms, there is an in-house wine store, restaurant and bakery. Each room differs, some feature original stained-glass windows and a ground floor room has its own private outdoor space, but all have marble-wrapped bathrooms stocked with REN products and a host of mid-century furniture.
The hotel’s restaurant is a buzzing hub for locals, visitors and celebrities alike. The space is flooded with abundant natural light streaming from double height former stained-glass windows. The menus lean towards Mediterranean dishes, with special focus on seasonal, biodynamic and organic ingredients, but also offers sourdough pizzas freshly baked from the restaurant’s wood-fired oven, which sits in full view of diners. Daily specials include Cornish haddock, kebabs made with slow-cooked lamb shoulder and lamb falafel kebabs.
If all of that wasn’t enough, hotel staff hang a bag containing a warm, freshly baked croissant on guests’ doors each morning from the bakery downstairs.
Address: 28 High Street, Bruton, Somerset BA10 0AE
T: 01749 814 070
Originally opened as an emergency shop to support local producers and to supply provisions for the village community during the pandemic, The Old Pharmacy is now a bustling cafe and bistro in the heart of Bruton. Housed within a 500 year old building – and former pharmacy – the restaurant is the brainchild of Merlin Labron-Johnson, the youngest chef to ever win a Michelin star in the UK in 2015.
The Old Pharmacy is next door to Osip, Johnson’s first venture in the village, which was awarded a Michelin star in 2021. Its menu, which Johnson describes as ‘Grandma Cuisine’, changes daily and is displayed on a blackboard, offers a selection of dishes made using fresh produce sourced from Johnson’s own farm in Bruton.
The window seats are the perfect morning coffee spot and by night, the space is the town’s coolest wine and cider bar, with its green-panelled walls and reclaimed furniture. The restaurant has the feel of a farmhouse kitchen. The main space is a hive of activity; chefs leisurely prepare fresh pasta on a kitchen island, baked sweet treats such as cannoli and cinnamon buns are available to purchase on the counter and one corner acts a shop, stocking local cider, organic wines and grocery items.
Address: 3 High Street, Bruton, BA10 0AB
T: 01749 813 111
If there is only time to do one thing during a visit to Bruton, a visit to Hauser & Wirth is a must. This world-class gallery and multi-purpose arts centre showcases an array of contemporary artists inside the 18th-century Durslade Farmhouse.
The site is a love letter to architecture, art and the rolling hills of Somerset, all complemented by a landscaped garden designed by Piet Oudolf of New York’s High Line. The previously derelict buildings were lovingly renovated by French architecture studio Laplace, transforming the barns into white-walled gallery spaces which retain their rustic charm.
The garden is lush and abundant, the very vision of an English landscape, condensed into a curated space. The greenery is dotted with outdoor sculptures on an ever changing rotation. The space ship-like Pavilion, designed by Smiljan Radić, sits at the very back. A semi-translucent, cylindrical structure that resembles a shell, the Pavilion was designed to be used as a flexible social space. Visitors can climb inside via a ramp and take in the full view of the gardens and gallery from within the shell.
The site is also home to Roth Bar & Grill, a sustainable restaurant housed inside the old cowshed of Durslade Farm. Headed up by a husband and wife team, the restaurant prides itself on maintaining close relationships with local farmers, gamekeepers and gardeners, using local ingredients to cook in their open kitchen which has its own wood-fired grill and spit for their own-reared meat (which can be seen hanging in the visible salt room at the entrance).
Durslade Farm Shop sits at the gallery’s entrance. This community farm shop stocks high quality pantry items, mouthwatering fresh meats, fruits and vegetables, confectionary, homeware and tipples.
Address: Durslade Farm, Dropping Ln, Bruton, BA10 0NL
T: 01749 814 060