28 March | Places

Set in stunning Somerset countryside, this traditional coaching house lives up to our expectations.

The Talbot InnThroughout history, explorers have travelled in pursuit of new worlds, new adventures and new treasures. But sometimes the reality of those new worlds, once discovered, are very different from the stories and folklore. The promises of fame and fortune which might have driven our adventurer to sea (or to the skies), do not always materialise.

Just ask Martin Frobisher, the man whose name belongs to the watch that sat - with a newly-changed strap, by the way - on our wrist during our recent trip through the Somerset countryside. Frobisher once returned from a sea adventure with what he thought was precious gold. It turned out to be worthless.

So it is with hotels, occasionally. The pictures, the reviews, the recommendation: each can paint a picture which turns out to be a little different to the reality. Sometimes, the high expectations created aren't quite met. But not at the Talbot Inn, at Mells.

Before we made the trip into the (not so) Wild West countryside of Somerset, we had heard superb noises about this place: about the food, the rooms, the beers, the people, the views. But unlike Frobisher and his valueless iron pyrite, we returned from our trip to the Talbot with our expectations met and exceeded, and treasure aplenty to share.

First, the countryside. The views are vintage Somerset - all rolling greens, tumbling acreage, busy wildlife, slow-sighing clouds across open skies. It is as pretty as a picture.

Second, the food. Giles Coren loves the place. So too, do the tastemakers at the Financial Times, The Guardian, Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph - everyone of note, basically, with no-one excepted.

It's local, it's fresh, all smoked or cured in-house, and picked and foraged from the pub's gardens. It's served in the beautiful surroundings of the Talbot's restaurant, which oozes charm in abundance. The meat board in particular, and the beers, are well worth writing home about. Even if, after a couple of the stronger brews, writing anything coherent may prove quite difficult.

Third, the rooms themselves. The baths are exquisite. The decor is tasteful. The prices are so reasonable, we had to check the bill twice to make sure they hadn't forgotten to charge us for something.

In the pub, the snug is, well, cosy and snug and incredibly inviting. Parts of the historic courtyard outside are five centuries old, and it shows, in all the beautiful and aged character of the place.

All of which places us in the exact opposite position to some very famous explorers down the years, who headed in search of one thing, and found quite another. When it comes to the Talbot Inn, we ventured west on the promise of excellence and found it, in spades. Seek it out for yourself; you won't return empty-handed.