With a name as grand as Highbullen, the estate in North Devon has a lot to live up to. It doesn’t disappoint.
The task whenever one stays in a palatial property is believing it was once a family home as Highbullen was in 1879 when William Moore built the impressive Gothic style house.
One house has many lives and this one is no exception as it was used by Pickford’s removals during WW2 and as a private school when the pupils were evacuated.
Even in those difficult times maintenance still mattered and work on the extensive grounds was done by German prisoners of war. Bought by the Chapman family in 2012, the property is now a hotel and a stone’s throw from the rolling hills of Exmoor makes it the perfect escape from the city at any time of year, but summer is really good.
A welcome from the manager is always a good start and it was he who took us to our suite – the Louis Seize (French Rococo with a view across the Mole Valley that takes your breath away. We could have just stayed looking out the window, but tranquillity beckoned beyond the walls. I loved the remoteness and complete silence of the place which was only broken by amazing bird concertos from the crowns of the trees. The Estate is positioned quite high on the hill, so the view of Dartmoor is impressive alongside the winding blue ribbon of Taw River.
If you are a golfer there’s an 18-hole USGA specification course, set in richly wooded parkland. Prefer tennis? Then take your pick of the seven all-weather tennis courts and there’s also croquet, snooker and a gym with a variety of cardiovascular and resistance machines with personal trainer and gym inductions. The 20m heated indoor pool is positioned for enjoying the panoramic views while swimming and relaxing in the Jacuzzi before a schvitz and steam in the sauna. For warmer summer days, an outdoor swimming pool is also available.
As we like walking, the hotel reception offered us several walks of various lengths -all worth getting your boots muddy or not, if it’s dry.
A walk deserves a reward and at the Highbullen spa I enjoyed 30 minutes relaxing during a Superfood Pro-Radiance facial with their heavenly scented Elemisproducts that made me feel truly rejuvenated. They also offer a wide range of other massages.
The Manor House with its 11 individually designed rooms is not the only place to stay on the 127 acre Estate as there are lavish self-catering cottages, each offering unique countryside views and accompanied by the most extensive range of on-site facilities and activities. It’s far from London but the manor surrounded by mature parkland is a perfect venue for a wedding (or bar mitzvah) and if you are looking for a conference venue in an unusual place, The Palazzo at Highbullen has five separate meeting spaces for up to 400. North Devon may be far, but what an impression it makes with the charms of the nearby coastal villages or cycling on the Tarka Trail. The hotel has a 2 AA Rosettes restaurant and last year opened the elegant Laura Ashley tea rooms which was the final stop on our last day.
We are veggies, but this didn’t trouble staff who were charming and served a delicious cream tea with mouth-watering sandwiches. The receptionist handed us a treat bag for the journey in keeping with the theme of our stay: rejuvenation. Don’t let distance deter you.
- B&B is priced from £110 per room per night www.highbullen.co.uk/ 01769 540561