Plonked between the equally verdant Somerset and Cornwall, Devon comprises moors, woodlands, beach retreats and a UNESCO World Heritage site, making it a haven for hikers, water sport enthusiasts and city-dwellers keen for a dose of vitamin sea. Make the most of your stay in England’s third biggest county and pitch up in one of its decadent residences, from sprawling country piles to cool coastal abodes.
Gara Rock is Pinterest perfection. Set on the South West Coast Path with rambling views of the heather-laced hills and Salcombe Sea, this coastal retreat has a London-leaning aesthetic accented with rugged touches like rattan lampshades and seashell illustrations, which appeal to urban millennials in search of Instagram fodder as well as windy beach walks. Sunrise yoga sessions, a velvet-clad cinema and plants aplenty further cater to the needs of the coastal hotel’s cool, young clientele.
With 275 acres (111ha) of woodland that host tennis courts, an ESPA spa, a driving course, an archery range and a range of other country pursuits, you’ll be happy staying within Bovey Castle’s grounds during your Devon trip. Tuck into estate venison in the celebrated Smith’s Brasserie and enjoy complimentary decanters of sloe gin, distilled on the grounds, in your room; these highlights further cement the stately estate’s position as a has-it-all hotel.
Indulgence is always the order of the day at Gidleigh Park, a Tudor-style hotel, bordered by towering trees, manicured lawns and 107 acres (43ha) of private woodland. The Brownsword family and a small army of staff take care of every detail, which means never worrying about running out of firewood, the bar cart missing tipples or the well-stocked pantry being without freshly made biscuits. There are also wellies and raincoats in the boot room, so save the suitcase space for a few smart pieces for dinner in the antiquity-filled restaurant.
Nothing says luxury quite like a private isle. Arrive in style at Burgh Island, opting for the 50-year-old sea tractor to nip you to the Art Deco hotel at high tide. Its history as a jazz-era institution is celebrated at every turn – from the Palm Court’s majestic glass-domed ceiling to the ballroom’s white grand piano and lavishly decorated 1930s-style rooms – so you might as well embrace it from the off. Book to stay in the Beach House, which was built for Agatha Christie in the 1930s, and enjoy a private sun deck, outdoor hot tub and panoramic sea views.
A nautical-by-way-of-New England theme reverberates through Salcombe’s waterside Harbour Hotel, which means striped loungers in the ESPA spa, marble countertops and a crustacean bar brimming with locally caught oysters, scallops and sea bream. A home-away-from-home vibe means guests pad down the plush carpeted halls in pillowy white robes, while staff remember names.
Dating back to 1626, Lewtrenchard Manor is a popular spot for history buffs wanting to glimpse the original coat of arms, stucco ceilings and oil paintings in the antique-filled Jacobean manor. Rich in both history (12th-century silver coins were found in the walls) and decor – think heavy velvet drapes, ornate fireplaces and Marie Antoinette-style armchairs – the oak-panelled country pile excels at old-world decadence, which makes it extra popular around the festive season.
Drawing influences from Alice in Wonderland, the surprising Timothy Oulton-designed decor is like tumbling down the rabbit hole into a land where drums, retro cameras, top hats and magnifying glasses line the walls, and taxidermy flamingos hold court. As if plucked from a fantastical Tim Burton film, low-slung chandeliers cast violet beams across rooms brimming with retro curiosities. This is English eccentricity at its most playful.
From the vineyard overlooking the Exe Estuary to the luxury leather goods embossed with Lympstone Manor’s moniker, celebrated chef Michael Caines is at the heart of every venture – and nowhere is his dedication to detail more obvious than in the hotel’s Michelin-star restaurant. The signature tasting menu is a classic for a reason, with surprising and delightful dishes bursting with local, seasonal produce.
Crystal decanters, 16th-century artwork and an oak-panelled Great Hall, replete with stone-clad mullion windows and medieval chandeliers, lend a fairytale quality to this stately pile. Despite its grand decor, Boringdon Hall is a family-friendly stay where muddy boots and rain-drenched dogs won’t ever be frowned upon. The food – helmed by Scott Paton – is exquisite, inventive and oh-so Instagrammable, while the house gin makes an ideal present for anyone left at home.