Our series editor Fiona Duncan visited this off-the-beaten track inn recently and rated it highly. Owners Charlie and Dan, proprietors of the Beckford Arms, bought the lease from the present Earl of Asquith and Oxford and reopened in 2013. Their new venture is up there with the Beckford Arms because they know how to combine style, value for money and character.
The Talbot gets a head start with the charm of its location, the pretty Somerset village of Mells (mellis, Latin for honey, is a reference to the honey-coloured local stone) and this is reinforced as you approach through the uneven surfaced cobbled courtyard with its tables and chairs. Inside there is a choice of several cosy dining areas; a sitting room across the courtyard from the main building in a barn that dates from the 1500s; and the Grill Room housed in the old coach house. The speciality here is meat and fish cooked over an open fire. Guests sit together at long tables and when it’s busy at weekends the atmosphere is bustling and jolly.
There are eight stylish but unpretentious bedrooms which are very fairly priced. We especially like spacious no 6: relax in a deep, free-standing bath raised on its own platform; or have a rain shower; or chill out in the sitting room with two sofas. In other words, this is a suite, and it’s priced at just £150 including breakfast. The best places to stay know how to do homely touches without them seeming like gimmicks, and this is no exception, witness the sawn logs stacked in the fireplace, the woolly hot water bottle covers and pegs with hangars doing the work of wardrobes. The rest of the rooms offer the same value.