Since moving to the south west, Devon has become one of my favourite places for a short break – there’s something super relaxing about the green landscape and lovely rolling hills. If you travel through the North Devon country lanes to the village of Chittlehamholt, you’ll find Highbullen Hotel – a four star luxury country house hotel that sits in an 127 acre estate with amazing views across the Mole Valley towards Exmoor National Park.
Patrick and I arrived at Highbullen a bit later than we had planned – the Friday evening traffic on the M4 and M5 wasn’t particularly kind to us. We finally arrived just before our dinner booking, driving up to the beautiful main manor house just after the sun had set.
Built in 1879 in the Arts and Crafts architectural style, the manor house contains 11 rooms, all individually decorated in classic stylings that suit the historic nature of the house. There are another 26 rooms on the wider estate, along with five self catering cottages.
The ground floor of the manor house has a number of lounges, again traditionally decorated, that provide a relaxing spot to sit and enjoy a drink or to admire the landscape.
We both loved the main staircase with its large windows and spectacular light fixture.
Rooms at Highbullen Hotel
Our room for our two night stay was the Chinoiserie. Walking into the room, we first entered a small mini study area dominated by large windows along one side, with a beautiful writing desk at one end.
Turning the corner, we then ended up in the main bedroom – as the name suggests, the room had an oriental feel to it, with a large bamboo-themed four poster bed and eastern style furniture. The underlying cream and sage green colour scheme, combined with the high ceilings and more of those large windows, meant the room felt light and airy, despite the dark woods and traditional decor.
The entire hotel was renovated in 2012 so the room had all of the in-room facilties you’d expect including a flat screen TV, fluffy robes in the cupboard and a tea tray. The wifi connection was generally good and stable, though it did struggle with streaming on occasion. The bathroom was well equipped, with both a bath and shower and White Company toiletries. The water pressure was on the low side, however, but that’s perhaps to be expected given the property’s age and rural location.
Dining at Highbullen Hotel
If you’re a foodie, then Highbullen is the place to go. The hotel offers a wide range of culinary options. For fine dining, you should head to the Devon View Restaurant – awarded two AA rosettes, the delicious seasonal meals made with locally sourced ingredients are served in a newly refurbished restaurant with amazing views across across the surrounding landscape. We found the slow cooked beef to be a particular highlight of our meal – meltingly tender and with a great depth of flavour.
The Devon View is also a great breakfast spot – the sun streamed through the floor to ceiling windows as we enjoyed fresh pastries and full English the next morning (their breakfast is award-winning, too!).
For a more relaxed option, the Cellars Bar offers lunches and informal dinner options. Also on the estate is the new Laura Ashley tea room – the light, airy modern building is the perfect setting for a range of tea room favourites including brunch, lunch and cream teas (of course – you’re in Devon!).
Patrick and I tried the tea room’s full champagne afternoon tea – it was classicly styled, with soft, well-filled sandwiches and other savouries including a perfectly balanced cheese and tarragon mini quiche. The scones were fat and warm, and the choice of jam or lemon curd was a particularly nice touch. Top tier treats included a rich chocolate brownie, a deconstructed tiramisu and a blueberry tart.
Leisure at Highbullen
As a golf and country club, Highbullen has an impressive selection of leisure activites on site. These include an 18-hole USGA specification golf course, multisport simulator, seven all-weather tennis courts, fishing, shooting and croquet. There’s also a fitness centre with a 20 metre pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, and a gym. We found the pool, sauna and steam room to be geared more towards exercise rather than luxurious unwinding, but if you are in need of some pampering a number of elemis treatments are available at the hotel’s spa.
Even if you’ve got no interest in the sporting facilites, Highbullen is a fantastic location for a short break. The beautiful setting, excellent food and friendly staff, in a property that maintains it heritage without feeling stuffy or old-fashioned, means that Highbullen is a top pick for a Devon weekend escape.
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My trip to Highbullen was complimentary for the purposes of review, but all opinions are my own.