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August 16, 2018
When I think of a room with a view, I always used to think of Florence. But not anymore. After a long hot weekend at Highbullen there’s only one view on my mind.
Our room looked westward, over the treetops in the valley of the River Mole and beyond, out towards the lost villages in the heart of Devon. Their names, Romansleigh, Mariansleigh, Alswear and Meshaw, are not short of poetry of their own. But they have nothing on the landscape in which they sit. If you painted a view of the deep Devonshire countryside, it is this view upon which it would be based; deep verdant green, hillsides and pastures that roll, woodland that looks cool even from afar. Perhaps it helps that I grew up on this land, but it is land that has a deep rural soul. It is ancient, silent, and beautiful.
Highbullen Hotel Golf and Country Club is in the middle of nowhere. It is hard to find, even if you know where you are going, but once you get there, there is a good chance you will never want to leave.
For a start is comfortable, in true country manor house style. When you turn up with dogs and children the hotel has a welcoming family feel. There is a porch to put your muddy boots in and the sitting rooms have chairs you are not scared to sit on. The main Hotel building – the Manor House – was built as a family home in 1879 using stone quarried from within the estate. Fast forward 139 years, today it has 12 recently refurbished bedrooms, all of which offer a luxury that mixes contemporary while keeping its traditional roots, and one of which is the award-winning two-bedroomed Loft Suite complete with infra-red sauna and music player, steam room, monsoon shower and separate lounge.
But as we had the dogs with us, we had our own room in one of the four, various sized cottages, built at the bottom of the 127-acre Highbullen Estate. It didn’t disappoint.
It was on our balcony that we discovered the view. It is not the only one. From the restaurant (more of that later) or the South Lawn Arbour you can look south west – over the land towards Witheridge, where even the wind turbines at Batsworthy Cross seem to have taken on a stately beauty.
Our dog friendly room had a big comfy bed for the humans, plenty of room for our two dogs and a decent bathroom. Best of, our spacious balcony opened out straight into the grounds, and, of course, the view. If you are bringing your dog though, don’t forget your own supplies such as dog food and water bowls, food and dog bed, as these are not readily provided.
It was time to stretch our legs, and careful to avoid the hotel’s spectacular 18-hole golf course nestled right on our doorstep, we headed out instead into the surrounding wooded parkland for a stunning, peaceful walk.
Back inside with the dogs suitably exhausted, we decided to hit the outdoor pool to cool off during the summer’s heatwave and catch some rays. With Britain not normally known for its heatwaves, Highbullen’s leisure pavilion is on hand for when the temperatures do drop. Here you’ll find a heated indoor pool with stunning views of Exmoor, a Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. A well-equipped gym contains a range of exercise and resistance machines, free weights, personal training sessions (if booked in advance) and fitness classes to keep the more active guests satisfied. There’s also two Elemis treatment rooms and a club bar, while back outside there’s seven tennis courts.
Having worked up an appetite, it was time for us to get ready for a very special lunch. We were meeting the rest of my family to celebrate my father’s ‘big’ birthday. Gathering for drinks in The Morning Room alongside two croquet lawns, we took in the breath-taking views as we sipped champagne and toasted the occasion before heading downstairs to The Devon View fine dining restaurant, where a section had been cordoned off for us so we could dine together as a family. Due to the size of our party, we pre-ordered our meals in advance. I’d opted for roasted Butternut Squash soup, roast sirloin of 24 hour cooked Devon beef with roast trimmings, followed by a selection of local and British cheeses. The food was stunning and worthy of the restaurant’s 2 AA Rosettes.
A more informal dining option, but still offering superb freshly cooked food, is The Cellars, with its offering of a range of starters, hot mains and desserts, alongside sandwiches, pizzas and salads.
One of the many additions to historic Highbullen over the years is The Plazzo – a huge event and conference venue housing up to 400 people which can be sectioned off into five separate areas to host weddings, dinner dances and executive business meetings.
With our appetites sated, it was time to work off the excess with a stroll down to the river, a beautiful 20 minute or so walk in scorching heat, but with reward at the end for the dogs with a dip in the shallow river to cool off.
After a steep, but enchanting walk back up through the woods to the hotel, we were more than ready for a glass of something cold. An hour or so spent on the balcony before dinner, there we were back with the view. That view is not one to die for, but one you will think about forever.
PRICING: The lead in rate for a double room on a bed and breakfast basis is £99. For more details check out Highbullen
Indy checks out the stunning view at Highbullen hotel in north Devon