The Highbullen Hotel, north Devon, is best known for two things – walking and great food. It’s an ideal base for exploring Exmoor and beyond and is the perfect place for a weekend or mid-week break.
Given that it’s only a leisurely two and a half hour’s drive from Cardiff, it’s no wonder city dwellers choose this beautiful hotel for a quick getaway.
Highbullen Hotel combines an interesting history dating back to 1879 enhanced with contemporary touches and modern luxuries, set within a sprawling 127 acre estate with magnificent views across the Mole Valley and Exmoor National Park. This really is the hotel to explore North Devon.
At Highbullen Hotel, the main building, a Victorian arts and craft manor house, is home to twelve beautiful bedrooms, including the spectacular award-winning Loft Suite complete with its own steam room and infrared sauna, whilst a further thirty bedrooms can be found throughout the Estate in The Courtyard, Gardener’s Row, Golf View and Stable Cottage. Comfortable lounges to relax in can be found in the Manor House with stunning views across to Exmoor. Highbullen also offers four luxurious self-catering cottages.
There are plenty of dining options at Highbullen. Formal dining takes place in the AA 2 Rosette Devon View Restaurant, under the careful watch of head chef Stephen Walker.
The elegant dining room features floor to ceiling windows, granting spectacular panoramic views across the Devon countryside over to Exmoor.
The menu showcases seasonal and local produce with a modern British theme across all dishes. An extensive wine list offers wines from the old and new worlds and staff can suggest wine pairings.
Highbullen recently opened Laura Ashley The Tea Room. Designed in the distinctive Laura Ashley style, the room accommodates 74 covers, providing guests with unrivalled views bringing together the quintessence of England: the timelessness of afternoon tea, elegant country living and one of the most iconic English brands. This space is converted into The Supper Room between 6pm and 10pm daily. The casual dining menu here includes a wide style of dining options that will entice everyone including ‘small plates and sharing platters’ priced from £4.50, ‘big eats’ priced from £12.50, ‘pizza and pasta’ priced from £11, ‘salads’ and ‘desserts’ priced from £6.50.
Things to do
There is an intimate green charm to walks around Exmoor. The Moors also provide plenty of myth and legend to explore. But walking here is a joy and walkers will encounter subtle blends of prehistoric past and wilderness present. Highbullen can provide written and mapped walk details for six walks local to the hotel. The shortest is a half hour route around the hotel and village, the longest a walk on Exmoor, taking in the highest cliffs in England with views over the Bristol Channel to South Wales, as well as Exmoor’s famous wooded combes and heather covered moorland with its wealth of wildlife.
Time to explore
Golden sandy beaches perfect for rock-pooling, swimming and surfing, dramatic coastlines, rugged moors and verdant valleys all demand to be explored. Saunton Sands, Woolacombe, Putsborough are all good for surfing or family days out and within quick driving distance from the hotel.
We paid a visit to Minehead and were delighted to discover that it wasn’t just home to Butlins.
There were plenty of interesting independent businesses, restaurants and cafes to keep us busy for the whole afternoon. Well worth a visit.
The leisure facilities
For leisure fans, Highbullen Hotel is a dream, especially in the warmer months with plenty of outdoor possibilities. Facilities include seven all-weather tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool and an eighteen hole USGA specification golf course set in wooded parkland.
Indoors guests can make use of a twenty metre indoor swimming pool with sauna, steam-room and jacuzzi. Highbullen Hotel has partnered with leading skincare brand ELEMIS to provide a wide range of wonderful spa treatments; facials, massages and holistic therapies are available.
What we loved…
Sometimes country hotels can feel a little stuffy and uninviting. Not so at Highbullen. The staff are the jewel in Highbullen’s crown. Welcoming, attentive, but unobtrusive. From the receptionist to the maitre‘d’, it was clearly a labour of love and not just a job to them.
The near future
Not ones to rest on their laurels, the hotel owners have plans to add lodges to the grounds next year to make the hotel more family and friendly.
Would we return?
In a heartbeat.
Chittlehamholt, Umberleigh, North Devon, EX37 9HD