Endsleigh – Devon
Hotel Type: A five star countryside retreat set in 100 acres of magical gardens, woodlands and grottos.
Location: Milton Abbot, near Tavistock – between Dartmoor in Devon and Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. Around four hours by car from London, or take a two hour train to Exeter and it’s an hour from there.
Style: 19th Century aristocratic
Rooms: Just 6 exquisite suites and 13 delightfully styled rooms
Ideal For: Escaping the every day and winding down in the true English countryside
Dining: The food here reflects the British countryside, offering fresh game and fish with an Italian influence, using ingredients that are local and seasonal. The afternoon tea here is very popular and a highlight of the stay.
Swimming: The hotel has a membership for its guests at a nearby country club with a 25 metre pool, leisure pool and gym.
Activities: Take long walks around the grounds or in the surrounding areas such as Dartmoor National Park, go on a Garden Tour of the grounds with Head Gardener Ben, enjoy the ping-pong table, croquet, giant jenga and sun loungers on the lawn, go horse riding locally, or fishing in the River Tamar, guests can fly fish for sea trout, brown trout and grayling, and enjoy some of the best salmon fishing in England.
Spa: Although there is no specific spa here, a range of treatments can easily be organised for you.
Furry Friends: There is no better dog walking country – and your pooch will thank you for bringing them. All the rooms are dog friendly. Dogs are an extra £20 per night.
Price from: £200 per night B&B
Hotel Endsleigh is a Grade I historic house set in 100 acres of fairy tale woodland, follies and grottos created by Humphry Repton, the last great English landscape designer of the eighteenth century. The Duke of Bedford, who owned a third of Devon, laid the first stone in 1814 for his fishing and hunting lodge, ideally situated on the edge of Dartmoor, as he thought it the prettiest part of his estate. It is calm, remote and quiet – a restoring place to stay. Panelled walls, fire places, crested stained glass windows, decorative wallpaper, and narrow staircases, are just some of the original features that give Endsleigh its thoroughly unique edge. Combined with Olga Polizzi’s exceptional eye for design, juxtaposition of period and modern furniture and striking artwork, you’ll find it hard to match. For unspoilt and unhurried, far from the madding crowd rural luxury, this is the place to be.
This is a boutique retreat and all of the rooms and suites have a 5 star feel. At Endsleigh, each bedroom is a lovely size, two with hand painted wallpaper, vintage bathrooms, elegant beds and floral fabrics, with verdant views over the gardens and down the valley or over the stable block and clock tower. Most of the rooms and suites are in the Main House, with the rest privately tucked away in the Stables and the Gatekeeper’s lodge. The Classic Rooms in the Main House are a mix of English country and modern décor, with double or king size beds that can be made into twins, and some can fit an extra bed or two for children or a cot for a baby. They come with deep baths and overhead showers or shower attachments, and some are larger than others, with some in the eaves of the building. Room 16 has a fabulous walk-in wardrobe and Room 10 looks out over the listed salmon larders. Repton Room 3 was once the Duchess of Bedford’s bedroom, whilst Repton Room 4 was where the Duke slept. The former has a queen size bed and looks over her children’s parterre (every child should have one!). There’s a large bathroom with a roll top bath and walk in shower. The Duke’s room has glorious views of the valley and the bathroom, down some steep steps, was once the chapel. The hand painted Chinese wallpaper in Bedford Room 5 is exquisite, with its windows decorated with heraldic panels. Bedford Room 8 is beautifully spacious with large French windows opening onto a Juliet balcony.
On the ground floor is Suite 1 –a large master bedroom with king size bed, an elegant bathroom and a pretty little sitting room. Suite 2 is reached via a private staircase and looks out over the parterre and gardens. This also has a beautiful bathroom and sitting room, with space for two children. The Gatekeeper’s Lodge, a private thatched cottage at the top of the drive, a mile from the main house, has one bedroom and is a little romantic hideaway. There’s a large sitting room with a wood burner.. The bathroom is gorgeous and there’s space for a child. The Lodge also has its own private garden.
The Stables house three Suites, all of which are different sizes and individually styled. 18 has a master bedroom and bunk room for two children, as well as a sitting room and the original kitchen dresser which has a fridge, microwave and sink. Stable Suite 19 has a king size bed that can be made into a twin, a very beautiful bathroom, sitting room and its own private terrace looking down over the valley. For sheer quirkiness, Stable Suite 20 is wonderful. Originally the hayloft, it still has the beams, thick oak trusses and sits just below the clock tower. In the eaves, it’s extremely cosy and we love the unusually long bathroom.
In the atmospheric dining room, with its wooden panelled walls and early Victorian décor, expect to feast on delicious local and seasonal produce, with plenty of game, fresh fish and seafood from the coast nearby. There’s a strong Italian influence from the hotel’s owner, Olga Polizzi, and all the dishes are fabulously presented. Breakfasts are worth getting out of bed for, with homemade granola and a full English that will set you up for the day. Afternoon tea is a ritual that should not be missed – sandwiches, then scones with clotted cream, whilst reclining in wing back chairs in the sedate comfort of the library. For celebrations and large parties, there’s private dining available in the stables for up to 80.
If you’re looking to relax in a rural idyll, Endsleigh fits the bill. The grounds are an enormous playground, with little grottoes, a shell house and waterfalls, and there’s much to explore in the surrounding countryside. Children can eat in the restaurant and early suppers can be arranged. There’s also a baby listening and sitting service.
It’s enormously tempting to arrive at Endsleigh and do very little. This is a place to relax and recharge your batteries. Should you want to venture out, you can do a tour of the garden with the Head Gardener Ben, (it has the country’s longest raised herbaceous border) or maybe put on some wellingtons and walk the grounds. Dartmoor is within easy reach, with its pretty villages and soaring tors, or make a day trip to the beach with a picnic. You’ll find archery, canoeing, horse riding, segway hire, tree top adventures, cycling and fishing all on the estate or very close by. There’s no Spa at Endsleigh, but therapists can be booked for in-room treatments.