Moments after our arrival we are ushered into the library for a pot of tea and homemade biscuits. Exuding traditional British style, the library is home to well-loved rugs, a six-seat leather Chesterfield, antique lamps, fresh wild flowers, and of course, a log fire crackling away contentedly in the corner making it the perfect place to relax. This rich, warm atmosphere extends throughout the hotel.
Set in 27 acres of countryside, Bishopstrow House is a handsome ivy-clad Georgian mansion and the latest von Essen hotel to undergo a multi-million pound facelift. Each of its 32 bedrooms has been made over with bold-print wallpaper, colourful silk cushions and beautiful furniture.
Mulberry, Bishopstrow's new-look restaurant, serves modern English food at its best: twice-baked Devon crab soufflé, butter-roasted turbot with leeks, wild mushroom duxelle and crisp ratte potatoes, followed by hot double chocolate cake with blood orange sorbet and homemade marshmallows, all impeccably presented. Head chef Ben Streak sources half of his ingredients from Bishopstrow's kitchen gardens and is more than happy to share a few of his recipes.
There is plenty to do in the surrounding area and the friendly staff will happily point you in the right direction. Nearby Stourhead House and Gardens is a must, so too is Stonehenge (20 minutes away) and the glorious Georgian city of Bath is just up the road. Or if you prefer to stay closer to home, there is clay pigeon shooting and archery within the hotel's grounds and between April and October there is trout fishing on Bishopstrow's private stretch of the River Wylye.
The only slight disappointment was its brand-new Halcyon Spa, we found it to be not quite the haven of tranquillity it promised. Ugly blue slip-proof mats surround the unimpressive indoor pool, the relaxation area is too dark to read in and the changing rooms lack privacy. On the upside, the treatment rooms are comfortable and the therapists well trained - the Elemis facial and a massage were both top notch.
Bishopstrow House doesn't compete in the style stakes (nor in the spa stakes) when it comes to its fashionable neighbour Babington House, but therein lies much of its charm.Bishopstrow House, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 9HH. (+44 (0) 1985 212 312; bishopstrow.co.uk. Rates start from £180, including breakfast.