Put your bags down and step into a world of baronial beauty once owned by the 16th-century Strode-Barrington family. Just south of Bath, on the edge of the Mendips, Southside House gives you all the splendour and spirit of the past with all the modernity families, friends and hens need for reunions, celebrations and recalibrations.
Sleeping 18 guests in seven bedrooms, this is far more than soft sofas and big spaces. With toys at every turn, there’s plenty upside to Southside. Settle down to Netflix delivered over high-speed broadband. Twist or stick on the games table. Top up your glass from the bar.
Back inside, generations can bond in the games room over pool, table football, darts, board games and a games console. Eat around the chunky dining room table, stay refreshed with the freestanding drinks fridge, sleep in four-poster beds and wake to wash in Calacatta and Manhattan polished-marble bathrooms.
Put your phone away awhile and chat in the bubbling hot tub. Seating seven and equipped with jets, fountains and waterfalls, it’s the only way to see the stars.
Elsewhere among the terracing, steps and landscaping, you can fire up the gas barbecue and eat out on the patio in the Somerset sunshine while the kids invade the play area. Then get together for a game of croquet, explore the garden paths or picnic on the lawns. Bring the generations together in a feast of flora, fauna and fun.
The fun starts in the drawing room, with the Bond-style gaming table that runs on drinks from your very own bar. This is a big space for socialising on soft sofas in front of Netflix, battling it out over board games or the games console, or just surfing the superfast Plusnet broadband.
Throw another log on the grate, top up your Prosecco and make a night of it. Or escape to play the generation game in the games room and bond or bicker over pool, table football and darts. Southside is a historic place, full of original features and ancient quirks. But there’s nothing austere about the atmosphere.
Yes, the feel here is historic and grand. Dripping chandeliers preside over shuttered sash windows, elaborate cornicing and bookshelves bursting with holiday page-turners. But you’ll feel right at home as you eat too much, drink too much, burn some logs, read some books, and generally take a huge chill pill.
Plenty room in the dining room for 14-18 guests to get together, pass the wine, butter the bread and bond over fresh local goodies from the markets at Frome or Wells. Fix up a feast from the electric oven with five-ring hob. Keep the American-style fridge-freezer and freestanding drinks fridge stocked up with Tesco or Morrison’s.
Prefer to be pampered? Consider bringing in our professional chefs for a special celebration or fully catered break. Book anything from a hog roast to a gas barbecue in the gardens. They’ll even load up the dishwashers while you relax.
If even that seems too much like hard work, Shepton Mallett comes bubbling over with pubs and restaurants. Kick off in the Waggon and Horses with its beer garden, coals burning in the grate and home-made meals made from scratch. Or head to Goodfellows for fillet of sea bass or scallops with pumpkin tortelloni and samphire.
Consider butterfly chicken breast or a Sunday carvery at The Bell Inn, the archetypal family-run village pub, or grab some authentic Greek at Rosemary on the High Street – no smashing plates, now. Or order up a great night in with Domino’s Pizza or lip-smacking traditional fish and chips from Whitstone’s.
Plenty of accommodation here for up to 18 guests in seven bedrooms, mostly en-suite. Enjoy four-poster beds, pearl-inlay woodwork, intricate carved headboards and even a logburner. Luxuriate in six bathrooms all recently refurbished with Calacatta and Manhattan polished marble.
You’ll find bedrooms one to five on the first floor. Toddler-friendly bedroom one sleeps three in a single and a king, while bedrooms two and three each provide a king-size. There’s a single and a double in bedroom four, and bedroom five is another king.
On the ground floor, bedroom six offers a king-size and bedroom seven is a double with two double day beds. Bedrooms one, three, four and six will fit a cot.
Plenty of opportunities here to put down the phone or tablet and pick up some good, healthy habits. It all begins outdoors, with a lovely English lawn for croquet and cartwheels, winding paths, and bushes and trees for hide-and-seek. Eat out on the terraces in the sunshine and bring the generations together over a barbie.
Older kids can extend the day with a night under the stars, staring upwards at the constellations from the bubbling hot tub. There’s room enough for seven among the jets, fountains and waterfalls, and space aplenty when you’ve towelled off for kids to go free-range around the full acre of fenced flora.
Indoors, the drawing room promises fun for trainee James Bonds around the gaming table complete with roulette, blackjack and chess. Keep yourself topped up with mocktails from the in-house bar. Stay up late in front of the licking fireplace flames in front of Netflix, or just battle it out on the board games.
For screen time, you’ve got superfast broadband care of Plusnet and plenty of soft, squishy sofas on which to kick back and enjoy it. For 3D action, head to the games room for pool, table football and darts. Or just stay up way past bedtime with the burning logs lighting up another night of family bonding over rummy or roulette.