Buckland Tout-Saints Hotel – A Jewel in the Garden of Eden
I had been looking forward to revisiting the county of Devon or Devonshire, as it was once more commonly called and its official name, as in Devonshire Clotted Cream or Devonshire Cream Teas. I also happen to like my cream teas with the cream on the bottom and jam on top!
Driving in some parts of Devon can be an enlightening experience with narrow, steep hedgerows and tight bends, invariably with a large van or bus coming the other way. Several times I had to reverse a hundred yards or more looking for a `passing place` so that we could both inch cautiously past each other.
I was visiting the region of South Hams, noted for its beautiful landscape, quality local food, culture and scenic beaches. With its strong rural and maritime heritage, much of the region has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, stretching as far as Dartmoor National Park and encompasses one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the UK.
Buckland Tout-Saints is a luxury country house hotel surrounded by 4½ acres of beautifully tended gardens and woodland, situated in a delightfully secluded location. The words I would use most to describe the Hotel and surroundings are peaceful, isolated, tranquil, relaxing, quiet, restful and classic!
This stunning William & Mary manor house has beautiful bedrooms, award-winning cuisine, and an air of peacefulness which appears to permeate throughout the hotel and beyond. It has also been awarded a host of awards including not two, but three AA stars for its levels of comfort and hospitality.
One of clearest signs that spring has arrived is the appearance of the pale yellow flowers of the Primrose. My room, one of two luxurious `Master suites’, was appropriately named Primrose. The room boasting a magnificent four poster bed was beautifully decorated in a traditional country house style.
More surprisingly, the shower room had `two shower heads`, one either side within the shower facility and a convenient seating area between them! The fittings in the bathroom and shower room were classic in design and added to the air of opulence throughout my room.
The suite consisted of two separate living areas with a large screen digital television in both! A large wooden table and chairs, and floor to ceiling curtains framed a large window with comfortable ledge seating which provided the ideal spot to sit and take in the awesome views across the ornamental gardens down to the river valley. A `chaise longue` also offered that little bit of extra comfort.
Luxury country house hotel ambience or more modern space in which to lay down your head, the hotel can provide for all tastes. The eight original bedrooms and two grand suites have been supplemented by a further six bedrooms, furnished in a delightfully modern style.
The tasteful Russian pine-panelled Queen Anne Restaurant can boast not one, but two AA Rosettes. Several darkly painted portraits of rather austere looking men and women gaze down on to the diners below. The restaurant uses fresh local ingredients and produce, either delivered daily from local farms or are cultivated in their own vegetable gardens. I was very pleased to see the Rhubarb I had spotted in the gardens on my walk around the grounds earlier in the day, included on the menu that evening!
The restaurant menu reflects the chef`s passion for creating fresh, simple, seasonal food which is both delicious and good value for money. I was not disappointed! The food was excellent and the presentation was first class. At the end of the meal my taste buds were screaming with delight and satisfaction. A tasty, wholesome meal which looked simply stunning! The Goats Cheese almost defies description, it was so tasty and the plate of food looked like a Joan Miró modern work of art. The Sea Bass was cooked to perfection and the spiced chick peas and slightly seared cauliflower was a real delight. The Dark Chocolate Marquise was thick and the strong taste of the cacao bean was complimented perfectly by the caramelised banana and vanilla ice cream.
One of the most intimate rooms in the hotel is the distinctive Buckland Bar which I found to be the perfect retreat in which to sit quietly with a glass of wine, pint of local ale or cider. There were several deep, comfortable leather seats, a fine oak bar and calming outlook across the formal gardens.
Behind a `hidden door` in the far corner of the room, lay the Gentlemen’s comfort room with a real surprise, behind its door! No dull white ceramic to be found in here. I stepped inside and admired the beautifully decorated `Blue & White thrones` within, namely the Victorian `Oeneas Washdown Closet’ dating back to around 1891.
The Blue Room was a real delight bathed in sunlight. The South facing room has a nautical theme with several paintings of sailing ships reflecting not only the coastal links with nearby Salcombe and Kingsbridge, but also the owner, entrepreneur Sir Peter Rigby`s, own passion for sailing.
Downstairs, I was shown a large modern dining room which can cater for up to 120 wedding guests. It was another room filled with light and easy access out to the splendid sun trap terrace, just beyond the patio doors. When I visited there was an area which could be used as a small dance floor but the room can be prepared to cater for all needs, including live music as well as the large dining space for weddings, conferences or private meals.
Nearby Kingsbridge sits on its own estuary and is surrounded by lush, green rolling countryside, making it a popular destination for walking and sailing. The town attracts many visitors yet retains a tranquil charm and friendly atmosphere. Salcombe is situated on a stunning location at the mouth of the estuary and has a strong connection with sailing and water sports. Both offer the visitor to Buckland many activities during your stay.
The Buckland Touts -Saints is a fantastic Hotel, particularly if you are looking for a peaceful break, but it is also a very special venue for that special occasion such as a wedding or conference. It is an ideal retreat for that special weekend away or holiday break, tucked away down narrow country lanes.
Goveton, Kingsbridge, Devon, TQ7 2DS
Did you know? Why Tout – Saints?
The name of Toussaints is thought to mean All Saints (Touts Saints) or it could be derived from the French word “Sain” meaning “whole” or “healthy”. There is also a herb “Tutsan” (St Johns Wort) which is spelled in almost the same way.
Credit: The photographs of the `Primrose’ bedroom – Courtesy of Will Dolphin
Disclosure: My stay was courtesy of Eden Hotel Collection
The views and comments expressed are as usual my own