Last year, in between lockdowns across the UK, Rory and I decided we needed an escape from London living and something a little different from his family’s country home in Devon. I had a month off between jobs and wanted to celebrate the start of an exciting new chapter. Rory was just ready for a break. We were both looking for one-of-a-kind experience and the chance to celebrate after 8 months of confinement and cancelled holiday plans.
After extensive research, we concluded that there could be no better way to indulge ourselves than with a stay at Hotel Endsleigh, a Grade I-listed house set in Dartmoor on 100 acres of pristine land in the Tamar Valley between Devon and Cornwall.
Our weekend at Hotel Endsleigh was the perfect romantic getaway. We went looking for respite and indulgence — the chance to be together without distraction — and found just that.
Every second was a joy and we plan to return post-COVID to experience the hotel in full swing, without the social-distancing and protective measures that unsurprisingly affected the experience.
Even still, the food was delicious, the atmosphere warm and inviting, the history was as rich as the desserts.
Hotel Endsleigh was simply enchanting.
The Location: 5/5
Overlooking the River Tamar, in the middle of Dartmoor National Park, Hotel Endsleigh’s setting is one of its most unique features. 200 years ago, the Duke of Bedford, for whom the house was built, decided Endsleigh’s 108 acres of gardens and woodlands should be the home of his hunting and fishing lodge. Since then, it feels as though the setting has remained largely unchanged.
The abundance of birdsong and rustling trees, flowering gardens and water features offer the opportunity to truly switch off and reconnect with the natural world. Guided walks and wellies in every size are available to guests who wish to wish to enjoy Hotel Endsleigh’s bountiful gardens and woodlands or explore the many hidden follies dotted around the grounds. Guests can walk along the river to an afternoon pub lunch, fly fish along the river banks, or participate in the shoot.
Our visit in November was perfectly timed to witness the colours of fall across one of the most immaculate landscapes I’ve seen. Even without the gardens in full bloom (which we’ve heard is absolutely breathtaking), we were overwhelmed by the beauty and stillness of the grounds. We particularly enjoyed the guided walk which took us past unexpected waterfalls and a one-of-a-kind seashell house.
The Stay: 4/5
The driveway that leads to Hotel Endsleigh is long and concealed so that you only catch glimpses of the property before you arrive at the back of the house where guests park and enter.
The entry hall is warm and inviting with a roaring fireplace, wood floors and panelled walls, and an impressive floral display. Guests are greeted by friendly staff and promptly guided to one of the hotel’s thirteen rooms or six suites upon check in.
Most of the hotel’s rooms are located in the main house, but there are also a few family-friendly suites in the stables just across the driveway. The Gatehouse Lodge, the largest of the suites, is situated a mile away in a picturesque thatched roof cottage. Each of the hotel’s nineteen rooms are the embodiment of English elegance and are entirely unique in their design. Our room, Room 9, was a spacious classic room on the first floor of the main house. Between the cosy woodland theme, plush velvet armchair, double bed and a claw foot bathtub, it had everything we needed for our weekend stay.
The main floor of the house is equally impressive. Velvet armchairs overlooking the grounds make for the perfect spot to sit and read or enjoy a romantic cocktail and pre-dinner nibbles. The main drawing room is drenched with natural light during the day, pairing perfectly with the botanical paintings, floral fabrics and complimentary sage green walls. In the evenings, the fireplace in the library creates the perfect ambiance for a decadent after-dinner nightcap. At all hours of the day there is no shortage of books to explore, wallpaper patterns to admire or antiques to lust after.
Throughout the many rooms of Hotel Endsleigh, designer and owner, Olga Polizzi, expertly weaves together pattern, texture and colour to create a sumptuous yet welcoming (and dog friendly) space for guests to relax and make themselves at home.
The Food & Drink: 5/5
The restaurant at Hotel Endsleigh sits in the original wood panelled dining room and is rich with history. Guests dine beneath the crests of the friends of the Duke of Bedford while enjoying beautifully plated meals made with seasonal ingredients and inspired by the surrounding countryside. Every dish is sophisticated and full of flavour, appropriately rich, yet approachable. There is something undeniably harmonious about the entire dining experience and setting. It is uniquely befitting of a place like Endsleigh — something to be remembered.
Lunch and dinner in the dining room are decadent, three-course affairs. The menus are enticing, so exercise restraint at launch if you don’t want to risk spoiling your appetite as we did our first day! For a lighter lunch option, guests can order snacks and simpler plates off the bar menu while dining elsewhere in the hotel.
For breakfast, there is a buffet of seasonal fruits, fresh yogurt, and an array of baked pastries on display each morning. The kitchen also offers a menu with traditional English favourites liked boiled eggs and soldiers. Pro tip: if you arrive early to breakfast, you may be able to get a spot in the dining room window, overlooking the gardens.
In the afternoon the aroma of fresh scones wafts through the house beckoning guests to partake in a Hotel Endsleigh tradition: Afternoon Tea. This, in particular, is not to be missed, particularly after a day outside, walking the grounds. There is nothing more comforting than a cream scone and pot of tea by the fireplace.
In the evenings, guests can cosy up with a cocktail in the drawing room or share a bottle of wine in the library. The drinks list is extensive, so there is quite literally something for everyone. We spent most of the weekend sipping champagne and red wine, never trying the same thing twice. Of everything we tasted, my favourite was an affordable £48 Cortigliano from Tuscany.
On the whole, I was thoroughly impressed with with all of the dishes I tried — Rory would certainly say the same. But my favourite dish of the weekend was a grilled scallop and vegetable medley (pictured below) that was simply unforgettable.
Service is impeccable and the staff consistently went out of there way to make sure we were happy, well fed and watered. They even hardly batted an eye when I requested scones for breakfast our final morning!
We can’t wait to go back! Looking for more to do around Devon? I’d highly recommend a trip to Boscastle and Tintagel Castle.