You might think with a name like the Moonraker this hotel would be some dodgy James Bond, space themed hotel designed to attract American tourists, nothing could be further from the truth. Moonraker is actually a colloquial term for people from Wiltshire (or a slang term hurled at supporters of Swindon Town Football Club) stemming from the 1700s. Legend has it that French Brandy and Dutch Gin were smuggled up from the Hampshire coastline in an effort to avoid excise duty. It was often stored in church crypts or in village ponds because the algae in the ponds would mean the barrels couldn’t be seen. Until one night a group of men were spotted retrieving barrels from a pond by excise men who saw what they were up to. Thinking quickly they said they were “raking in a round of cheese” as they pointed to the full moon. Excise men thinking they were a bunch of village idiots left them to it! And so the term was born.
The hotel sits on the main road to Trowbridge in a small village called Trowle Common, but due to the layout of the hotel and its placement in the grounds you can’t hear the road at all and its actually incredibly quiet. We had a room that overlooked nearby fields and apart from a distant owl we didn’t hear a thing all night. The 23 bedrooms are all comfortably furnished and as far removed from the identikit hotel room as it is possible to get. Superior Rooms are either located inside the main house, or just outside facing the restaurant at the front and fields at the back. We stayed in one of the latter which meant we had our entrance, useful if you are returning late and don’t want to worry about disturbing other guests with lifts or doors banging in the early hours. There are also standard rooms and family rooms that sleep up to 5.
The hotel prides itself on sourcing much of its food on the menu from its own garden or from the local area, and they even have their own smokery. We had a lovely wander around the walled garden after dinner, looking at what was growing or trying to work out what might be coming up next.
Service was slow, I have to admit, but then that’s to be expected at the moment I think and what it lacked in speed was certainly made up for in warmth. We were well looked after and the food was fabulous. I had steak (obviously) and Mr B had the burger (ditto). We are creatures of habit and its fun to compare how restaurants do menu staples such as steak and chips and a burger. When I asked Mr B what mark he would have given his burger out of a possible ten he said “I am struggling to think how it could be improved to be honest”. If I had a criticism of the menu itself it would be that I like to see what is on there for dessert, it determines if I will have a starter or not. Since I can’t eat three courses I will skip a starter if there is a dessert I really fancy. The dessert menu is separate so I couldn’t make that decision up front. A small thing but I do like a menu to be a menu with all the info.
We picked a room price that included breakfast, not realising that breakfast doesnt start until 8pm at the weekend and we had to leave at 7am. Reception did say they would speak to the chef and ask that a continental breakfast be made up for us to take away (the rooms dont come with fridges so we couldn’t do it after dinner) but sadly that didnt materialise. However, the chef who was busy preparing breakfast at 7am very kindly served us a quick breakfast of pastries, fresh fruit and piping hot coffee which was very much appreciated.
For £115 for a night, including the breakfasts, we thought it was good value for money and would certainly stay again. Its a great spot if you want to explore nearby Bradford on Avon, slightly further afield Devizes, or if you’re heading off to the Caen Hill Locks for a weekend of narrow boating as we were doing on Saturday morning.