If you own a helicopter, you’ll be pleased to know there is a designated place to park it on the grass outside Buckland Tout-Saints. If, like us, you decide to leave your chopper at home and take the car, you’ll find the last couple of miles of your journey takes you down winding roads big enough in most places for only one vehicle (but picturesque as hell) and through a gorgeous tiny hamlet (keep your eyes peeled for the traditional red phone box that’s been turned into a library).
Yes, this neat little country house hotel is out of the way but that’s a major part of its charm. We arrived on a warm and sunny day at the end of March – to an equally warm and sunny welcome – and were immediately admiring the view down into a grassy valley dotted with grazing sheep, and back up to a distant tree-topped horizon.
This is the impressive backdrop to the lovely little terraced garden, which also features a croquet lawn and ornamental fountain so you can pretend you’re in, say, a miniature Downton Abbey (add a glass of bubbly or a cream tea to enhance the effect – see eating and drinking, below).
We stayed in the Camelia master suite, with a view of the lawn. Probably the best way to explain how big it was is to take you through the various things we had to sit and lie on. Two window seats, two arm chairs, a sofa, any of a choice of the four dining chairs around the table, the king-sized bed, the chair in front of the dressing table and, my favourite, the chaise longue at the foot of the bed. There is also, you’ll be pleased to know, a toilet to sit on, in the en suite (along with a bath, a separate shower and two sinks).
If you’ve had enough of lounging around in your room, there’s a choice of other places to do it. Along with the terrace, there’s a cosy little bar area, with studded leather armchairs, an open fire, and a view out to the garden and across the Devon countryside.
Buckland is definitely about relaxing, but if you feel like stretching your legs a little bit, head up on to the road where, opposite a little stone church, there’s a public footpath through the fields. Bright yellow rapeseed plants lit up the fields when we were there, and the loudest sound for miles around was the hum of the bumblebees.
The hotel is also a great base for a trip to the coastal town of Salcombe at the mouth of the Kingsbridge Estuary. Drive down the hill as far as you can go and you’ll find the Winking Prawn seafood café, where you can enjoy a glass of wine and a stunning view out to sea.
Eating and drinking
Opening on to the terrace is the café-style second restaurant, the Kestrel Rooms. It serves beer, wine and light meals, afternoon tea and a delicious cream tea.
Dinner is served in the main restaurant, which is grand enough to create a sense of occasion. Wood-panelling, chandeliers and period portraits make it feel warm and opulent. There’s the option of a shortish tasting menu, a la carte ordering or a fixed price menu at £28 for two courses and £35 for three, with dishes like crab tortellini and ham hock ballotine to start and saddle of venison, roasted monkfish and blue cheese gnocchi for main. Our meal was solid restaurant fare.
Along with cereals, fruit, yoghurt and pastries, the breakfast menu offers a meaty mixed grill, a vegetarian version, plus smoked haddock, kippers and a perfectly decent smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.
Radio Times Travel rating: 7.5/10 – Cosy, low-key luxury in a beautiful countryside setting
Buckland Tout-Saints is part of the Eden Hotel Collection of seven hotels across the south of England and the Midlands. You can arrange a tour and experience the different properties by booking at any of the hotels.