We could not have asked for a more beautiful weekend..early October, an Indian Summer and we chose Endsleigh House Hotel in Devon.
The website does not do this lovely hotel justice, as it is truly stunning and feels as if you are staying in charming, private home. The staff were sweet and efficient, the service good and basically, they simply get it.
It is a four and a half hour drive from London (Chelsea)…not three and a half which is what the website tells you. We made a couple of stops on the way and were lucky with the traffic, it was fairly easy.
Not far off the A30, just outside of the village of Milton Abbot, the hotel was built in a beautiful valley in the heart of Devon. Created over a period of three years, for the 6th Duke and Duchess of Bedford, as an escape from the grandeur of Woburn Abbey, Endsleigh stands on a hillside in 108 acres of woodland and Grade I listed gardens, overlooking the fast flowing, River Tamar.
Quiet and peaceful, it is a wonderful place to rest for a weekend. The hotel claims to be child friendly and even though there was a young Italian couple with two tiny babies there during our stay, it is not really the right place for little children (you would be better off at somewhere like Babington House). However, it is perfect for couples and small celebrations (you can take over the hotel exclusively for a birthday or a wedding and in fact marry there). They allow dogs too and the one there for the weekend during our stay, gave the hotel a nice country house feel. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to hide away in, both inside the house and out in the gardens. On arrival we had tea outside in a small corner at the side of the house, which was completely private.
Our room overlooked the courtyard which was a bit noisy and we would definitely request a room on the other side of the house with views of the Tamar next time. The room was spacious, the bed sooo comfortable with nice pillows and good quality sheets. We had a large bathroom with delicious Ren products, a bath and shower with a huge shower-head I felt as if I was standing in a rain storm. They changed the towels each day and waited for us to leave the room for dinner before coming in to turn down the bed at night..so important.
The food is delicious and the wine list good. Breakfast can be full English with local bacon, sausages and eggs or American style waffles with maple syrup. The three course dinner menu costs £40 and is good value. In the summer you can dine outside on the terrace, or in a small alcove with heaters. Inside, the wood panelled dining room did rather have the experience of that ‘hushed’ feeling some dining rooms in country house hotels have – I dread that, so on the second night we ate outside which was more fun.
We ventured into Tavistock on the Saturday morning to the famous Pannier market, the only stall worth visiting is the second hand book stall in the corner but it is a sweet place with some nice little shops. Back at the hotel we walked around the gardens which are lovely with some interesting trees, plants, waterfalls and walkways. The top part of the garden by the house has a beautiful, long rose arbour which leads down to a shell house, popular at the time it was built. We watched a couple of guests going out to fish along eight miles of the best salmon and sea trout river in England with a fishing club ghillie at hand to help. For lunch on Saturday we were able to have a picnic (which the hotel staff prepared) on the banks of the River Tamar. Sitting in the warm Autumn sunshine, drinking chilled white wine was our idea of absolute heaven.
The house is really cosy inside with many small rooms. In winter you can imagine sitting in a big comfy chair by one of the roaring fires with a glass of wine, reading a book from their extensive library in the late afternoon.
This is not a glitzy hotel for those seeking a gym, spa and dress up experience. Quite the opposite – it was more about the Dad with his son who had come fishing, the couple with their beloved dog, a family of eight celebrating their mother’s sixtieth birthday and even a couple of people staying alone (who were not remotely out of place) and who seemed to simply read their books and walk around the gardens.
It is a bit of a drive from London, but it is so worth it. Take Friday off, leave by 11am and you will miss the traffic and if you can leave on the Monday to have a long weekend, you will really have a fabulous weekend.