Glam, stylish and fun: Devon's shiny new country house experience delivers on detail - and zzzzzzz's. Fancy a nose around?
I’m feeling (not necessarily looking, but feeling) pretty bright-eyed and bushy-tailed right now. Err, great…Aaand? I hear you ask. Fairly boring status update, I know, but stay with me. My point is, have you ever noticed how often you can’t actually say that after a night away in a hotel; when it’s the one detail that, above all a hotel should surely be able to get right? Shall I get off my soapbox now and elaborate? Okay, okaaay.
Me and Monsieur Muddet are just home from a night at Paschoe House, the newest luxury hotel to throw open its doors in Devon and the setting for the most blissful night’s sleep in the recent history of the Muddy clan. I’d followed the progress of this £1.1m country house renovation near Crediton all year on Instagram, being teased by little details being added every week. Like a meerkat, I was there as soon as humanly possible after opening day, just to check that, you know, the reality lived up to the online story. And it did. It really did.
So, Paschoe House is beautifully remote, invisible from the road, located down a private drive. On our arrival, I did stop outside for a moment to take in a lungful of air and listen and I was greeted by complete silence, broken only by birdsong. The inevitable trade-off, though, is that it can be a little tricky to find, particularly if you rely on in-car sat nav systems to get you there, since it’s so new on the scene and most won’t have been updated; but rest assured, they’re on the case to iron out that minute little crease. We actually found it with no trouble and anyway, the journey takes you through gorgeous thatched villages and past pretty pubs, worth noting for the country walks you’ll no doubt want to do while you’re here. Every cloud.
From the outside, it looks like a smart country house, which it is, one with an interesting history. The Paschoe Estate has been in existence since the 13th century, but in the early 1800s, having begun to subside, the House was razed to the ground and rebuilt, designed by John Hayward, the architect also behind Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum. In the years to come, several owners took up residency, including a Bond Street antiques dealer and a family who opened its doors to refugee children from North London during World War II. Now under the ownership of the Amador family, the past ten years has seen Paschoe House transformed back to its former gorgeous glory.
Inside is another story again. Owner Tabitha has clearly had great fun with the interior design and I love it. It starts from the moment you get through the door, look up and see the chandelier dominating the staircase and it continues throughout the house.
You can expect an eclectic blend of modern colour schemes and bold wallpapers, mixed with classic period details and designs inspired by nature, with lots of playful taxidermy adding to the character of the place.
There are plenty of cosy spaces to lounge, either under the beady eye of the ostrich in the library bar, or in the morning room, by the fire. You can feel free to waft around like the Lady of the Manor, or slouch in a more uncouth fashion with the papers. The atmosphere is relaxed, not stiff and formal and the service matches that vibe, attentive but discreet, friendly but on-the-ball.
There are 9 en-suite rooms, named after wildlife creatures and broken down as 3 signature suites, 3 deluxe doubles, 2 classic doubles and a family suite. We stayed in the Deer Suite, which is also the bridal suite (just imagine a wedding here), the first room you come to at the top of the sweeping staircase.
Plush, roomy and bright, it’s a bang-on blend of antique, quirky and smart. Beautifully restored furniture, from the bed to mirrors and the artwork, is complemented by unusual accents, like the pink and gold-flecked wallpaper and cushions.
And the smart bit comes in the form of electric curtains (if you must shut out that view), underfloor heating, mood lighting and enormous TV screens loaded with the latest movies. Tip: you can call down and request popcorn, should you wish to do movie night with aplomb.
I’m not sure I can compare the rooms to anywhere else I’ve stayed recently, Paschoe House definitely has a style of its own.
And there are luxury touches everywhere, from fresh flowers, to homemade cookies and handmade chocolates. Mr Muddy’s tummy was getting very excited for dinner at this point.
Shall we move into the bathroom?
And of course no decent bath is complete without plush towels and bath salts.
Fortunately Paschoe House delivers on both counts.
And yes the Bamford goodies did roll into my handbag in a freak accident.
SCOFF & QUAFF
It’s a well-stocked bar at Paschoe House and the team shake up quite a collection of cocktails, too. Mr Muddy was impressed with the range of craft ales on the menu and I was just happy to be next to a fire, wine glass in hand (Muddy default position).
You’ll no doubt remember the heartbreaking fire that ravaged the historic Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter in 2016? A small team of its staff, including head chef Alex Gibbs, have come to Paschoe House for a fresh start and, they’ve already found their stride. The menu is fine dining and the dishes carefully chosen so as to ensure that ingredients are sourced as locally as possible.
We both dined on a scallop starter, with pea, black pudding, bacon and shallot followed by Pipers Farm Devon Red Ruby beef fillet, with braised ox cheek, celeriac, confit shallot and beef red wine for main, both beautifully presented and full of flavour. Portions were perfect and the standard was really high. The menu was one I had to deliberate over for a while; whilst small and select, all of the dishes sounded like ones I wanted to get my chops around.
Puddings were scrumptious and oh, so pretty. Mr Muddy opted for the apricot and basil, with the shiniest handmade chocolate casing while I went for the apple souffle, inside a baked apple, with crumble. Our sweet tooth’s were well and truly serviced and that’s before we retreated with coffee and handmade petit fours.
And where to even begin with breakfast?
Someone needs to call Michael Mcintyre right away. Heard his observation on how annoying it is that juice glasses are always so small at hotel breakfast buffet’s, meaning you’ve finished your juice before you’ve even returned to the table, only to have to go straight back to queue again? He’d be over the moon with the Paschoe House experience. The breakfast buffet is literally brought to your table. Your own mini selection of pastries, muesli and granola, fresh milk, yoghurt and fruit; along with little bottles of all the juice you could ever consume in one sitting.
Breakfast is served over three hours and you need it…because this is just the first course. Next, a hot selection cooked to order. Smoked salmon and eggs for him and pancakes with bacon and maple butter for me, natch. Honestly? I think this was my highest point of many highs.
A particularly lovely touch is the little Paschoe Press scroll on your table each morning, telling you everything you need to know about the day ahead, like the weather, who your team are today, along with little tit-bits like historical facts about the house and recipe tips from the kitchen.
I’d say so. A number of rooms are big enough to accommodate a cot or extra little bed and, children are welcomed with a little Paschoe House teddy bear when they arrive. It’s a relaxed-enough vibe not to feel as though you’re treading on eggshells or they’re disturbing the peace. And, speaking to one of the team front of house, plans are afoot for a games room, and it may not be too long before kids can go and collect eggs from the resident chickens. Let’s not forget all that space outside for them to let off steam and explore – all 25 acres, including lawns, orchards, tennis court and Victorian walled garden.
AROUND AND ABOUT
This is a destination for throwing on the Dubarry’s and partaking in a few country pursuits. The owners have partnered up with some luxury operators, offering shooting on a 3000 acre estate, riding, fishing and golf. Those seeking more of a cardio workout can fling themselves around the tennis court for an hour or two, or go and clock up a mile or ten on foot.
There are walks to suit all levels in these parts and it’s worth knowing that dogs are very welcome at Paschoe House, by the way. For a post-breakfast stroll, go and explore the grounds that the house sits within.
If you wanted to time a walk around a pub lunch, or drinks, then make a beeline for the nearby pretty village of Coleford and you’ll discover the New Inn at its heart. Or, make a day of it and take to the Two Moors Way footpath (and make sure you’re back in time to reward yourself with afternoon tea).
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those wishing to indulge in sheer country house luxury, enjoy bracing walks, cosy fires and decadent afternoon teas. If you appreciate the finer details, then you’ll be like a piggy in mud here.
Not for: Travellers who like to be in the thick of the action, close to shops and pubs.
The damage: It’s certainly not budget, but this is a premium experience, worth every penny. Rooms range from £150 to £340 per night. A three course dinner is £50 per person.
Paschoe House, Bow, Crediton, Devon, EX17 6JT. Tel: 01363 84244. paschoehouse.co.uk