Style An Elizabethan eyeful
Setting South Devon meadows
Combe House hotel in Devon is the kind of grand old country pile where Arabian horses canter picturesquely, pheasants strut presidentially, and guests relax with Pimm’s and croquet. Here, you’ll be well fed, well wined, and very well looked after.
Need to know
- Rooms 16, including three suites.
Double rooms from $271.74 (£179), excluding tax at 20 per cent.
The price shown represents the lowest nightly rate for a double room available at this hotel over the next 21 days. Any price conversions from the hotel's local currency (£179) have been conducted using today's exchange rates from xe.com.
- More details Rates include full English breakfast.
- Facilities Restored Victorian kitchen gardens, woodlands and orchards, croquet lawn, apiary; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen/plasma TV, DVD/CD player, Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet bath products.
- Check-out 10.30am. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
- Children Couples are the hotel’s primary focus, but it welcomes little ones too, providing free cots and extra beds (£30), baby monitors and a toy cupboard. Babysitting (four-hour minimum) is from £9 an hour (book a day ahead).
- Also Well-behaved dogs can come too for £10 a night: they’ll even get a ‘survival’ kit (on request). The hotel has helpfully published a little booklet ‘for’ canine companions, detailing the area’s 10 best local walks and dog-friendly beaches..
Food and drink at Combe House
The hotel prides itself on knowing the origins of its ingredients: play ‘name the supplier’ with waiters if you don’t believe us. (To start you off, duck comes from Merrifield Farm, pork hails from Duckaller Farm, milk and cream from Yarty Valley Dairies.) The chef and menu respect such top-notch components, presenting them in classic British dishes such as John Dory with smoked eel and capers, squab pigeon with chestnut purée, and caramel panna cotta with bitter chocolate sorbet and biscotti. There are two dining spaces to choose from: the Pink Dining room and the Green Mural room, decorated with paintings by the previous lady of the house. The hotel offers private dining too, so have a banquet in either the Panel Room – clad in dark wood and hung with ancestral oil paintings – or the Georgian kitchen, where everything is cooked on the restored Victorian wood-burning cooking range.
- Dress code Pretend you’re an aristocratic artist/titled heir, clad in cashmere and corduroys in rich paint-palette hues. Here, the emphasis is on comfort.
- Top table Sit in the pink room by the double doors, overlooking the front of the house and the handsome grounds.
- Last orders Breakfast is served between 7.30am and 9.45am, lunch is available from 12 noon until 2pm; dinner is plated up between 7pm and 9.30pm (canapés are served half an hour before the main meal, and are included in the price).
- Room service Order items from the menu between 7.30am and 10pm. It’s a snacky selection: steak and club sandwiches, soup, Welsh rarebit, cream tea and a range of drinks.
Walk through the lofty Great Hall to get to the bar, housed in a green, snug area opposite the restaurant. The cocktail menu champions what’s growing in the garden (the 200-year-old mulberry tree plays a prominent part), with seasonal tipples including rhubarb bellinis and lavender lemonade. A few small sofas and chairs are clustered around the bar itself, but it’s cosier in the sitting room near the log fire, listening to the classical music playing on the Roberts radio. Take advantage of the waiter service and browse the antique books (first editions picked by the owners on their travels) crammed on the shelves, or sit beneath the Lebanese cypress trees in summer.
Also worth knowing
- Weddings This property is suitable for weddings. More...
Combe House Gittisham, Honiton, Nr Exeter, Devon EX14 3AD
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Smith extra at Combe House
Home-made strawberry jam, crab apple jelly and tomato chutney
In the know
Our favourite rooms
The Linen Suite nimbly manages to be both modern (white furnishings and a distinct lack of chintz) and historic: housed in the Victorian laundry, with the original drying rack suspended from the ceiling, an original iron pulley system attached to the wall and an antique stove topped with old irons. Of the lower room categories, Putt is a charming choice. This superior room is coloured with calm grey and blue hues and has French doors that open onto the Lebanese cedar lawn and the Orangery beyond – a real boon in summer. The Marker Suite is best for families: it has plenty of space and connects with Tommy Wax, a Signature room. For the ultimate privacy, book Combe Cottage, hidden in the woods just a three-minute drive from the main building.
Slippers and silks so you’re simultaneously comfortable and stylish – just like the hotel. Bring wellingtons/walking boots for stomping around the grounds, blade of hay between teeth. Flat cap optional.
Let the hotel know your preferences in advance – whether you’re a duvet or blanket person, if you’ve any dietary requirements, whether you want dinner and when, and whether you’ve a special occasion to celebrate, and staff will tailor your stay accordingly.