Muddy review: Heasley House, Exmoor
Go wild in the country! Pack your walking boots and high expectations - we're off to a 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 Muddy, and don’t much like roughing it.
So tadaaaa! We think we’ve found the perfect place for when you want to go wild in the country, but also want style, class, amazing food and a cosmopolitan feel – hello, 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.
Exmoor (yes, one third of it is in Devon, the rest is in Somerset) is a unique landscape of moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland, shaped by nature over thousands of years.
It’s comfortable yet plush, the sort of place you wished your friends owned so you could outstay your welcome on a regular basis. Although 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.
Despite the undeniably ‘hunting, shooting, fishing’ location it’s a stuffed-partridge-free zone. 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.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Muddy ticks abound: Melly is an incredible cook (drool here) with home-baked bread and homemade Mediterranean dishes on the HH menu – all made using ingredients of local provenance, while hubby Jamie will happily talk you into trying one of the many lovely wines they have on their extensive list.
And you don’t need to be a resident of the hotel to enjoy it: the restaurant is open evenings from Tuesday to Saturday, and you can hire it out for private parties and special dos.
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.
We recommend you offload the kids, as 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, this is a great place to detach them from their screens with all the biking, walking and fresh air.
It’s also dog-friendly on request so the pooch (provided it’s well behaved) won’t miss out on the walkies. Plus, electric bike hire is available for when you get blisters.
Outdoorsy types will be in heaven here with everything from walking along the dramatic South West Coast Path, to watching the deer rut in the grey mists of an approaching dawn, to horse riding with the sun and wind on your face, or for £40 a day you can hire an electric bike and charge through the lanes on ‘turbo’.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: peace and quiet (there’s zero road noise); a defrazzle; communing with nature; a gastro break; bonding with the family; working on those glutes (walking and biking); star-spotting (the astronomical kind).
Not for: urbanites who break out in a sweat at 360 degree fields and tractors.
The damage: very reasonable with rooms starting at £150 per night including brekkie.
Heasley House, Heasley Mill, South Molton EX36 3LE. Tel: 01598 740213; firstname.lastname@example.org