The best places to stop on (and just off) the A303

The main trunk road from London to the West Country can be a charming gateway to joy and delight — but it can also be purgatory for those stuck in traffic.

Six best places to eat along the A303

Travellers are unlikely to go hungry or run out of fuel, as there are a dozen or so conventional service stations dotted along the A303’s 93 miles, but heading off piste can lead to more exciting culinary adventures.

The Plough Inn, Hampshire

Only 15 minutes from the eastern beginning (or end) of the road is the 303-year-old Plough Inn, Hampshire, which was recently saved from becoming a nebulous housing development by the parish council and 300 shareholders.

Since being refurbished and reopening in 2021, it has been serving fresh, local food that seems to be universally enjoyed by anyone lucky enough to have the time to stop at this historic gem.

The Plough Inn, Longparish, Hampshire

Sol Bakery & Café, Wiltshire

The recognisable red hues of the Little Chef at Chicklade, Wiltshire, are long gone, the building’s woodwork now painted the subtle mint green of Sol Bakery, a café as far removed from a fast-food chain as it is possible to get. Early arrivals are greeted by the delectable smell of freshly baked organic sourdough bread and there is no better way to start the day than with a newly brewed coffee and a sticky cinnamon bun.

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Run by Mili Morrison and Pepa Portman — two Argentine ladies who met in nearby Tisbury and discovered a mutual love of empanadas, which they began to bake and sell in their village — the business has boomed in the two years since they rented their premises on the side of the A303. ‘It’s gone way better than we expected,’ admits Mrs Morrison, a former graphic designer. ‘Sol Bakery has become a destination.’

Sol Bakery & Café, Chicklade, Wiltshire

The White Lion, Dorset

The lane leading to The White Lion at Bourton, Dorset, is so narrow that it makes even the slimmest parts of the A303 seem expansive, but that doesn’t thwart diners.

This watering hole with flagstone floors, low beams and eclectic furniture serves quality pub grub and great beer, coming highly recommended by locals and travellers alike.

The White Lion Inn, Bourton, Dorset

Teals, Somerset

Teals, named after co-founder Ash Sinfield’s daughter, is an eatery, food market and shopping destination near Sparkford, Somerset, constructed during lockdown from a dismantled barn. Access is easy, but finding a table less so, thanks to the menu created by head chef Ben Champkin in the low-waste, seasonally focused kitchen using unsold food items — booking is essential. Yet fear not: the Food To Go area is accessible and the retail assortment is vast. Suppliers must satisfy a stringent tick list, topped by the ideals of ‘local’ and ‘sustainable’.


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‘There is no one else to compare us with. We wanted to challenge the norm and offer an immersive experience,’ says Mrs Sinfield, a former fashion and beauty marketeer, who is planning a second Teals on the A1 near Stamford, Lincolnshire. The germ of her idea began years ago, when university graduate Mrs Sinfield was cycling through Africa with Nick, her husband and co-founder. ‘I noticed the shacks on the side of the road selling local produce and began to wonder if I could build a big version of those.’

Teals, South Cadbury, Somerset

The Bakery West Camel, Somerset

Joy Whittington, 76, who has run The Bakery West Camel, Somerset, since 1989, recently told BBC Radio Somerset that her customers once had to endure a ‘daily dance with death’ after parking to buy bloomers and baguettes.

The bakery, set up in about 1910, is now further away from the trunk road due to the Sparkford-to-Ilchester upgrade, but Mrs Whittington is hopeful that the business, which offers deliveries, will ‘be alright’. Passers-by are urged to divert and pop in.

The Bakery West Camel, Yeovil, Somerset
01935 850450

Monks Yard and Jordans Courtyard, Somerset

Nearing the western extremities of the A303 in Somerset, Monks Yard and Jordans Courtyard are hidden gems at the Southfields roundabout that are easily missed by those in unfamiliar territory.


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They both host tempting eateries, with Jordans Courtyard also home to the likes of an award-winning florist and bridal rooms, plus The Fine and Dandy Club, which sells menswear, and Iskia, a clothing boutique for women.

Monks Yard, Ilminster, Somerset

Jordans Courtyard, Ilminster, Somerset

Five of the best places to stay along the A303

A holiday doesn’t have to begin at the final destination and there are many places tucked away in quiet corners that are only a stone’s throw from everyone’s favourite trunk road.

The Beckford Arms, Wiltshire

‘Staying at The Beckford Arms immerses you in the British countryside,’ says Beth Doherty of the Beckford Group, which runs South-West hospitality businesses, including this one in Wiltshire. Inside the atmospheric, eclectic pub, Olympian Lewis Luxton’s oars and caps hang on the walls (he was also a part of the winning Cambridge Boat Race team in 1932), the connection being that his son, Charlie, is a co-founder of the Beckford Group.

Staying in The Great Arch at Fonthill is one of the B&B options at the Beckford Arms.

Upstairs, the eight rooms are decorated in colours of the countryside and Bramley toiletries, the brand founded by Charlie’s wife, Chloe, adorn the bathrooms. The pièce-de-résistance, however, is half a mile down the road, where the group has created a two-bed family bolthole within the Great Arch, built in 1755 to mark the entrance to the original Fonthill estate. At a fraction more than £300 a night, it also feels like a bit of a steal.

The Beckford Arms, Fonthill Gifford, Wiltshire

The Bell & Crown, Wiltshire

The Bell & Crown at Zeals is another historic hostelry that has been made over by a creative bunch, in this case, the Chickpea Group. ‘We get a lot of people staying who are en route to Devon or Cornwall,’ says Kirstie Macey, the group’s sales and marketing manager.


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The six rooms upstairs and in the eaves, designed by Chickpea co-founder Tommy Tullis, only opened for business last May, but happy customers are already returning. ‘Comfort and cosiness are key,’ adds Ms Macey. ‘The beds are king sized and the pillows and duvets filled with feather down. We may be near the A303, but our guests can’t hear it and they appreciate the quiet.’

The Bell & Crown, Zeals, Wiltshire

The Bradley Hare, Wiltshire

James Thurstan Waterworth, of Soho House fame, is responsible for the interiors at The Bradley Hare in Maiden Bradley, Wiltshire, so expect rooms that are easy on the eye and set apart from other places by their antique furniture, unusual fabrics, contemporary artworks and modern comforts, including freestanding baths.


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As an aside, the building’s doppelgänger (in external looks only) is the Seymour Arms in nearby Witham Friary, where there are no bedrooms or food (except packets of crisps and chocolate bars), but the welcome is warm, the drinks some of the most inexpensive in the land and the pub’s interior a rare unspoilt relic of a past era.

The Bradley Hare, Maiden Bradley, Wiltshire

The Newt, Somerset

The Newt in Somerset at Bruton, which can be reached via the Wincanton exit, was named World’s Best Boutique Hotel in The World’s 50 Best Hotels 2023. Such an award speaks for itself and staying in part of the original Georgian house is undoubtedly special.

The Newt is beautiful at any time of year.

Various experiences and tours around the estate are included, but the prices, which start from £675 a night, may make a sojourn here an occasional rather than a regular treat.

The Newt in Somerset, Bruton, Somerset

Holm, Somerset

Nicholas Balfe, the man behind Salon and Levan in London, relocated to Somerset — to honey-stoned South Petherton, to be precise — in 2021 and had the former NatWest Bank building turned into a restaurant with rooms. These have strippedback, Scandi style at their heart: wood features strongly in various guises; the walls are a combination of muted tones and exposed lime plaster; and the staircase, made of microcement with intumescent steels, gives the wow factor.


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With spaces such as these, staying at Holm is always going to be memorable, but it is made even more so by the sensational food that is served downstairs. The focus is strongly local and seasonal and the flavours are sublime. Holm regular Malcolm Banks, who often dines with husband Martin Morrissey, usually with Sealyham terrier Wirral in tow, says: ‘Living in London for 30 years, I’ve been to many top restaurants, but the food at Holm is exceptional. I had cod with barbecued leek and mussel sauce on my last visit and it was top notch. Nicholas is a great chef who is always coming up with new dishes.’

Holm, South Petherton, Somerset