Heasley House, South Molton
Go wild in the country! Pack your walking boots and high expectations, I promise you will not be disappointed by this laidback boutique hotel and restaurant on the edge of Exmoor.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a weekend of walking in the wild can do you the world of good. Fresh air, Fitbit clocking up the steps, kids off the old electronic babysitter and at the end of it, guilt-free scoffing and quaffing due to all those cals you’ve burnt off. What’s not to like? The only tricky bit is matching the gorgeous stay to your gorgeous wild location, especially if you’re like me, and don’t like roughing it.
So, tadaaaaa – I am thrilled, delighted, all-a-quiver to introduce you to this Georgian gem, Heasley House. Located on the edge of Exmoor (but only 45 minutes from the M5), it’s family-owned by Jamie and Melly, and every boutique hotel lover’s dream, stuffed as it is with amazing art and fascinating objet d’art. It’s comfortable yet plush, the sort of place you wished your friends owned so you could outstay your welcome on a regular basis. Though if you did, they would be sure to push you out the door and up onto the moors where you could stomp in less than 20 minutes. And once you’re there – bliss – nothing to disturb the peace except the odd pheasant, and stunning bracken-covered scenery as far as the eye can see.
Muddy ticks abound: Melly is an incredible cook (drool here) with home-cooked Mediterranean dishes on the HH menu while hubby Jamie will happily talk you into trying one of the many lovely wines they have on their extensive list; electric bike hire is available for when you get blisters; despite the undeniably ‘hunting, shooting, fishing’ location it’s a stuffed-partridge-free zone; it’s very reasonable with rooms starting at £150 per night including brekkie; it’s fun, friendly and playful with a shuffleboard game in the honesty-box bar, cosy fireplaces and an outdoor terrace with patio heaters so you can watch Exmoor’s famous darks skies and shooting stars as you finish your espresso martinis.
If you manage to offload the kids, nights by one of their crackling fires with a hot date, er I mean toddy, could be tres romantic. On the other hand, if you really can’t bear to leave the family behind, it’s dog-friendly on request so the pooch (provided it’s well behaved) won’t miss out on the walkies.
Like I said, it’s boutique so there are just the four bedrooms to choose from, all impeccably tasteful and individually decorated and all with equally tasteful en-suites and Bramley toiletries, to boot. Take your pick from one either overlooking the valley or the pretty-as-a-picture garden. It’s all so fabulously laidback-posh and peaceful. I can’t wait to get my head down, can you?
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