The Collective at Woolsery may be rural, tucked away in England’s southwest corner, but it draws a rather cosmopolitan crowd. In fact, discerning diners flock from far and wide to sample the goods of this gastronomic getaway spot, with its farm-to-fork spin on British classics. Speaking of which, when’s the last time your lodgings came with their very own fish and chip shop? ‘Cause they do here…along with a vintage-style village store selling local, artisanal produce. Get nostalgic in the 1940s-themed rooms or hunker down in one of the Collective’s quintessential country cottages, where the only thing sweeter than the local cider is the gentle hum of life in this postcard-perfect town.
Double rooms from £275.00, including tax at 20 per cent.
Rates don’t include breakfast, but room service is available.
At the hotel
Birch farm, fish and chip shop, village store, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: Sage coffee machine, underfloor heating, Rako lighting, minibar, TV, sound-system, and Land & Water toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
We love the nostalgic 1940s decor of the Shop Rooms, but the cottages are great for a little extra space. While the four-bedroom Hillside cottage is ideal for families, with a large garden that little Smiths will love, the more intimate Old Smithy has all the contemporary comforts for a romantic weekend away.
There’s no pool, but there’s a beach just three miles away should you fancy a splash.
Bring a board if you’re that way inclined, the nearby coast is known for its world-class waves.
Unfortunately, the Collective at Woolsery is not suitable for those with mobility issues.
Welcome. Extra beds and cots cannot be provided, so families are best in Rosehill cottage (with two bedrooms and a sofa-bed) or the four-bedroom Hillside cottage.
The Collective at Woolsery are in the process of planting hundreds of trees on their farm, which is nurtured through bokashi-composted food waste straight from their kitchen. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any single plastics on site, amenities are organic and cruelty-free, and the hotel takes part in a monthly scheme where they match all donations for a sponsored local charity.
There are plenty of cosy nooks and crannies to settle in, but we love being right beside the restaurant’s blazing log fire.
Best of British: don your Westwood flats, McCartney dress and a classic Burberry trench.
The Farmers Arms is the hotel’s modern British pub, where the large majority of produce is sourced directly from its own grounds, and the focus is on heritage breeds and sustainable agriculture. The eatery has earned itself a reputation for its elevated take on hearty British cuisine, which includes dishes like winter chanterelle with lentils, potato dumplings and pickled shallots; Birch Farm pork with crown-prince squash, smoked paprika and fennel; or the classic fish and chips, with cider-battered cod. Don’t miss the family-style Sunday roast where local meats (or veggie options) are served with all the trimmings: roasties, cauliflower cheese, seasonal vegetables, Yorkshire puddings, gravy – you name it. The rest of this food-forward collective includes Woolsery Fish and Chips, so you can get the goods to-go; a village shop with produce from local makers to be cooked up in your cottage.
As well as hyper-seasonal pub grub, you’ll find local ales, ciders and a seasonal rotation of six serious cocktails. Serious because, not only do the Farmers Arms make their own cordials and tinctures, they also macerate and flavour their spirits in-house. We love the rustic flavours of the crab-apple cider margarita (Honeywood Haze, all spice and mezcal), and their rum and hazelnut old fashioned (brown-butter rum, ginger and chestnut).
Lunch is served from noon till 2pm (3pm on Sundays), while dinner runs from 6pm till 9pm, Monday to Saturday (closed Sunday evenings).
You’ll find the Collective at Woolsery tucked away in England’s southwestern corner just a stone's throw away from the cascading cliffs of Devon’s Hartland Heritage Coast.
Exeter Airport is the closest, around 90 minutes away by car. Alternatively, Bristol Airport is just over a two-hour drive away. Each has flights to and from most major UK cities and Europe. International travellers may be better served by London Heathrow airport, which is around a four hour drive away.
For exploring the coast’s best beaches, wheels will come in handy. There is a free off-street parking spot available for each room at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
North Devon offers some of the best walking spots in the country with its jaw-dropping scenery, ancient woodlands, sheltered footpaths and open moors. One of the most notable (and the most arduous) is the South West Coast Path which starts just north of Woolsery in Minehead and traces the coast right round to Poole in the south. On the way, you’ll pass the Hartland Heritage Coast, a 60-mile stretch of rugged cliffs and wave-battered beaches which makes the area a hit with surfers – most of whom gather at the Sandymouth’s National Trust beach thanks to its tidal tendencies. But if it’s sunbathing you’re after, head to Crackington Haven, just south of Bude, where you can kick back along golden sands and let the little ones explore the rock pools. Elsewhere along the coast, Morwenstow is known for its distinctive twisted geology and razor-sharp black rocks. It’s also where you’ll find eccentric local poet ‘Parson’ Hawker’s grave, alongside those of shipwrecked sailors – after all, they don’t call it the ‘Wreckers coast’ for nothing. Speke’s Mill Mouth is a sight to behold – a dramatic 50-foot waterfall splitting the green cliffs. Further inland, take a stroll around Hartland Abbey, a Augustinian-priory-turned-stately-home with 18th-century walled and woodland gardens, historic interiors with architectural details from Mediaeval, Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, and traditional tea rooms. Heading north, quaint village Clovelly makes for a great day out, with its whitewashed 16th-century cottages that sit on a clifftop overlooking the harbour. Cars are banned along the town’s high street due to how steep it is; instead, donkeys are employed to carry visitors to and fro. From here, catch a boat over to Lundy island – England’s answer to the Galapagos with its wild gazelle-looking Soay sheep, sika deer and local pod of dolphins.
The Royal George at Appledore gazes out to sea, and has a hearty menu of chorizo stew, Indonesian seafood curry and steak with ox-cheek croquettes – definitely save room for the banana split. In Bude, Potters is a bijou eatery with lots of character in its dishes, say the Southern-fried chicken on a bacon-and-chive waffle drizzled in Cornish honey, Tandoori monkfish with coriander yoghurt, or sea-salt and Szechuan-pepper-dusted squid in a lime and red-pepper sauce.
Not a café as such, but if you’re partial to a milkshake then the self-service shed at Woolsery Milk Dairy Farm is the place to be, with farm-fresh milk and a rotating choice of delicious syrup flavours, from Irish cream or gingerbread to salted caramel or blueberry muffin. In Bude, recharge at the Electric Bakery, which makes rustic loafs galore but also the likes of venison kofta and miso-mushroom rolls, plus lots of sweet treats. They offer sourdough-making courses too if you want to up your bread-making game.
The 13th-centuy Hoops Inn in the neighbouring village of Bideford makes a fine pit-stop on your Devonian adventures. Built in the 13th century, the antique pub and restaurant is Grade || listed and boasts a beautiful thatched roof, bustling beer garden and a great selection of regional ciders and ales.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this best-of-British hotel in Devon and unpacked their locally-brewed ciders and Tregothnan tea, a full account of their gastronomic getaway will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside The Collective at Woolsery…
The tongue-twisting town of Woolfardisworthy is an unlikely foodie hotspot: a tiny parish tucked away in England’s southwest pocket with a population barely surpassing 1,000. And yet – thanks to boutique stay the Collective at Woolsery and a pronunciacion-friendly adjustment to the town’s name (to Woolsery) – you’ll find international in-the-know-ers navigating Devon’s winding country lanes to taste the farm-to-fork fare served at the Collective’s esteemed pub, the Farmers Arms. After such success with the restaurant and its best-of-British menu, devised by chef Ian Webber, the Collective at Woolsery embarked on reimagining the village fish and chip shop next door and transforming the old post office into a nostalgic village store selling local, artisanal produce. The only thing missing from their Woolsery renaissance? Rooms, of course. But fear not, after purchasing Georgian pile Wulfheard Manor across the road, the Collective’s hotel is due to open in 2025 with 18 nostalgic rooms and three contemporary country cottages; a spectacular transition from 'tongue-twister' to 'locus of good taste’.