Great British Boltholes: Hotel Endsleigh is a sumptuous Grade I listed 19th Century house that is the cream of Devon hideaways
- Hotel Endsleigh in Devon is a 19th Century house set in 100 acres of grounds
- Olga Polizzi converted the site with her daughter Alex (TV’s Hotel Inspector)
- The 19 dog-friendly rooms and suites are a masterclass in ‘comfortable elegance’
The weather is filthy on the Dartmoor fringes as we tootle along Hotel Endsleigh’s mile-long drive. But I’m not disheartened because at the end lies a special place I’ve visited before and recommended to close friends.
The sumptuous Grade I listed 19th Century house is set in 100 acres of grounds created by Humphry Repton. Endsleigh was built as a hunting and fishing lodge (the Tamar flows through the valley, offering superb salmon-fishing) for the 6th Duke of Bedford, whose wife, Georgiana, oversaw its development.
Another visionary woman, Olga Polizzi, bought the site in 2004 and converted it with her daughter, Alex (TV’s Hotel Inspector).
Sumptuous: Hotel Endsleigh, a grade I listed 19th Century house set in 100 acres of grounds
As we park, a brolly-bearer appears to escort us to reception. Inside, I spy things I’ve admired on previous occasions: antiques, sculptures, botanical prints and wallpapers, roaring fires, striped and chintz fabrics on chairs, chaises longues and sofas.
The panelled restaurant could seem stuffy to some, but acid-bright candle-holders, a frou-frou lampshade and informal staff make it anything but.
Most of the rooms are in the main house and now a stable block has been converted into suites. We’re here to sample the newest, called No 20.
The entrance’s wallpaper is an exquisite riot of rhododendrons, and stairs lead to the light, sloped-ceiling sitting room, which has sink-in chairs and a chic sofa, plus a tea-and-coffee cubbyhole.
The king-size in the bedroom, with grey-blue floral detail, is set off by arsenic-coloured tongue-and-groove and a green glass ceiling light that somehow complements the rest of the decor perfectly.
Our host then reveals the en suite: a wonderful elongated room with original oak trusses. There are signs on the main beams (the first one says ‘Duck’ and the second says ‘Ditto’), while marble-topped sinks, a roll-top bath and ritzy, hammam-style walk-in shower increase the luxe levels.
Vicki Reeve stayed in the newest suite, No 20, which has a bathroom with roll-top bath
After we’ve unpacked, there is just enough time for a blast around the romantic estate in the wild weather to see the Gothic gardens and arboretum, before heading back to the main house for some fireside snifters.
The USP: From the hunting-lodge architecture and gardens, to the unusual but always superb decor, lip-smacking food and friendly service, it excels.
The rooms: All 19 of the dog-friendly rooms and suites are a masterclass in comfortable elegance, with dashes of wit.
The food: Red-legged partridge, darne of hake, or goat’s cheese and spinach pithivier are lovely to look at and even better to eat. Three courses cost £52.50.
Hotel Endsleigh, Milton Abbot, Devon. B&B doubles cost from £235 a night. For more information visit hotelendsleigh.com.