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The Battleaxes Wraxall Flatcappers Freehouse Dinner Bed and Breakfast Review

After a hard couple of months where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, we decided to give ourselves a treat and have a weekend away, featuring some retail therapy for me, a jolly good dinner for him and a bit of gentle sightseeing in the countryside. We chose the Battleaxes at Wraxall as it combines all of these; it’s some twenty minutes from Cabot Circus, the shoppers’ paradise in the centre of Bristol, and a few minutes from the beautiful Victorian Tyntesfield Estate, plus plenty of good country walks nearby.

The Battleaxes has an interesting history, it was once part of the Tyntesfield Estate, built by the Gibbs family as a dry pub for their workers so they wouldn’t be tempted into the fleshpots of Nailsea and disappear! The old building is most attractive and bedecked with colourful hanging baskets outside; the interior has a patina of age that has been respected and encouraged by the modern refurbishment. Comfortable battered leather armchairs abound, books and papers are on offer and the country gentleman in his tweeds would be just as at home here as he was a century or so ago, although perhaps his pipe wouldn’t be welcome today!

Speaking of welcomes, we were very happy with ours when we checked in around 4.00 pm, Karen the friendly and happy manager was on hand to show us to our room and ask us if we needed anything at all before dinner. We didn’t, I was looking forward to a long relaxing soak in the bath and my husband to doing nothing in particular but probably getting under my feet whilst he was doing it. We’d chosen room five from the website as it showed a super king size bed and in the bathroom a rather nice free-standing bath and walk in shower arrangement. However, we were completely surprised firstly by the size of the bedroom and bathroom – both are enormous – and the outstanding quality of the furniture and fittings. Everything was top grade, with many thoughtful additions, a radio alarm with i-pod dock (Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel), tea and coffee facilities with a cafetiere and ground coffee, and a nice range of toiletries in the bathroom with plenty of large white fluffy towels. The bed was as promised, so commodious we could both stretch out amongst the bank of soft pillows in glorious idleness. I have to say that we couldn’t have asked for more had we booked into a five star hotel.

We had a couple of hours of bliss, road testing all of the above and emerged cleansed, happy and in good shape for the dinner to come. The dining room is lovely, very cosy and old-fashioned, lit by candles and part of it has a charming view of the rolling countryside. The menu is very appealing; all produce is locally sourced and seasonal, with a good balance of dishes including vegetarian options. The first thing that caught my eye was roast saddle of rabbit, stuffed with chorizo, apricots and pearl barley, served with broccoli and mint Jersey Royals, definitely the dish for me. For starters we chose goat’s cheese and heritage tomato salad with radish, basil oil, balsamic glaze and rosemary (for me) and Somerset game and orange terrine served with onion marmalade and mixed leaf salad. My husband can never resist the steak option, and ordered rib-eye steak, with chips and sautéed button mushrooms.

The starters were great, I really enjoyed my salad that was deliciously fresh and the balsamic glaze added a bit of bite to it. The game terrine was first class too, him indoors doesn’t do leaves so I confess to polishing off his mixed leaf salad as well! With the main course we ordered the house rosé wine which was perfect. I think my rabbit won the dish of the day; beautifully presented tender rounds of rabbit, stuffed with the tasty chorizo and apricot, it was an inventive and unusual dish but not over fussy. The steak passed the ‘is it served blue’ test with flying colours and I turned down the chance of a further mixed salad, but not a few chips.......
As we planned to eat a hearty breakfast next morning, desserts were not an option and thoroughly satiated we tottered off to our lovely bed.

To set us up to take a turn around Tyntesfield, we took breakfast at 10.00 am (it goes on until midday if you want a good lie-in), and the options are endless. We began with tea, freshly squeezed orange juice and double espresso, followed by ‘Flatcappers’ eggs – two poached eggs, served with hollandaise sauce on a toasted English muffin with smoked back bacon, and ‘Battleaxes’ Blackstone eggs - poached egg, beef tomato, crispy back bacon, and cheese sauce on a toasted muffin. This was the perfect start to the day and just like the rest of our stay, a cut above what we expected. 

The Battleaxes bed and breakfast is a real hidden gem which deserves to be discovered by as many of you as possible!

Jacquie Vowles

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