Every county in the South West has a proudly independent town where big chains are kept at bay and thriving local businesses make each street unique – and Frome flies that flag in Somerset. Kathryn Lewis explores its hilly cobbled paths to find the best places to eat, drink, stay and shop
Where to stay in Frome
The ancient town of Frome is steeped in history, so a former inn that appeared in the Domesday Book is a fitting place to stay. The 14th‑century building is now home to Archangel, a four‑star hotel with ten guest rooms which splice the historic setting with contemporary design. The nature of the structure means rooms are dark and cosy (big windows weren’t a thing in 1311), a feature the interior designers leant into. A moody colour palette, bold Baroque‑inspired wallpaper and free‑standing metal bathtubs prevail.
Also in the heart of town is Rook Lane House, a boutique bed and breakfast in a Grade II‑listed stone cottage. Choose one of its three smart and spacious bedrooms as your base from which to explore Frome and beyond. Free off‑street parking is included, which is a bonus in a town designed before cars became ubiquitous. Bistro Lotte on Catherine Street (read more about it below) is another good call if you want to sleep somewhere central.
A short ten‑minute drive will whisk you away to the charming town of Mells and The Talbot Inn. Part of the Beckford Group (a collection of excellent dining pubs and restaurants in Somerset and Wiltshire), The Talbot is a cracking spot to spend the night and tuck into some very good pub food. Each of its eight rooms are stylishly turned out while honouring their ancient past (the inn was built in 1480) and finished with luxurious touches such as Siberian goose‑down bedding and Egyptian cotton towels.
Travel a little further to Radstock and another quality dining pub with rooms awaits at The Holcombe (read our review here). The 15‑minute motor from Frome is worth it for sumptuously comfortable bedrooms and chef owner Alan Lucas’ menus, which are powered by homegrown produce. Can’t bear to leave your pooch at home? Two of the three lodges in and around the beautiful kitchen garden are dog friendly.
Where to eat in Frome
Ask a Frome local for their dining recommendation and they’ll probably point you in the direction of The High Pavement. You’ll need to book in advance to score a table at this popular tapas restaurant, but it’s well worth a bit of forward planning to sample the fantastic food and explore a nicely curated list of wines and sherries. Inspired by the flavour‑forward cooking of Spain, North Africa and the Middle East, its menu is designed to share and is split into ‘hot plates’, ‘cold plates’ and ‘charcoal grill’. Mix and match to bliss‑out on dishes such as deep‑fried goat’s cheese with date syrup, almonds and mint, and Cornish sardines with zhoug.
Across the road is Eight Stony Street, another quality haunt for oenophiles. Floor‑to‑ceiling windows reveal an impressive corral of wines, sherries and digestifs lining the back wall of the restaurant, bar and bottle shop. Its all‑day menus are equally eye‑catching and feature crowd‑pleasing mains such as market fish of the day and the Stony Street burger, alongside hand‑stretched pizzas laden with luscious toppings like red‑onion marmalade, rainbow chard and wild‑garlic salsa verde.
For French thrills in Frome, head to Bistro Lotte on Catherine Street. From early breakfasts to late suppers, its chefs craft classic French dishes using Somerset ingredients. Fuel a day of indie exploits with a continental breakfast platter (ham, cheese, boiled egg with sourdough, croissant and compote), make a croque madame pitstop at lunchtime, or swing by for a leisurely supper of steak frites.
Frome has lots of great spots for casual eats too. Nook, just off Cheap Street, curates tasty and nutritious breakfast, smoothie, poke and buddha bowls. Nab one of the few seats indoors, or take your order outside to the alfresco tables.
Former pop‑up and now fully‑fledged restaurant Burrito Boi on Station Approach is another fab find for ethical fast food. Menu faves including the signature beef burrito, buffalo and blue mac ‘n’ cheese balls, and chilli‑butter corn ribs are irresistible – and made with local produce wherever possible.
Where to drink in Frome
Coffee snobs won’t have to lower their standards when staycationing in Frome thanks to its thriving speciality scene. Kick off a mini coffee tour with a first‑class flattie at Frāmā on Cheap Street, then head to Projects on The Bridge for Wiltshire‑roasted Girls Who Grind Coffee and brunch (options include crumpets with whipped goat’s cheese and seasonal fruit, and truffled mushrooms on toast).
Your next stop is The River House at Black Swan Arts, where a fabulously eccentric team of baristas serve own‑roasted coffee. And, if you can handle another caffeine hit, take a break from shopping on Catherine Hill to sink a Round Hill Roastery espresso at Moo and Two.
Reached peak coffee? Time to switch to cocktails. Top of your list is Food Reader Awards 2022 Best Cocktail Bar winner HydeAway. Find the prohibition‑inspired drinking den on one of the town’s cobbled backstreets, where self‑titled intoxicologist Adam Way crafts seriously good libations.
If you’re more Merlot than Martini, see if you can pinch a pew at Palmer Street Bottle. The bottle shop and tap bar is a great place to sample a range of craft beers, fine ciders, natural wines and local spirits. Not booked anywhere for dinner? Its small plates, artisan toasties and excellent cheeseboards will see you through.
Where to shop in Frome
Cheap Street and Catherine Hill are as famous for their indie shops as their ancient buildings. On Catherine Hill, stop at The Dandy Lion, Poot Emporium and Honey on the Hill to rummage for pre‑loved clothing treasures, before popping into Bramble & Wild for plant paraphernalia and fresh flowers.
On Cheap Street, foodies will want to make a beeline for Lo Rapitenc. The tapas bar features a Spanish deli laden with specialist produce, cured meats and cheeses and imported wines. If you’ve booked an Airbnb and plan on dining in, supplement your deli haul with fresh ingredients and storecupboard staples from The Shop Next Door.
For organic bread and beautifully made pastries, head to Rye Bakery on Whittox Lane. The bakery cafe (discover more of our favourite bakery cafes here) is located inside a former church – a huge organ sits above the bar and original pews are used for cafe seating. If you can’t spare half an hour to sit and imbibe a Round Hill coffee and homemade cinnamon knot (and you really should make time), pick up a loaf of bread, made from organic UK flour, to go. Friday is wood‑fired pizza night when the team serve sourdough sensations topped with local seasonal ingredients, many of which are grown in the Rye Bakery garden.