Muddy stays at Whitehouse
A-listers, yes. But no sign of Trump at this sophisticated and stylish B&B in the South Hams.
Been to South Milton’s laidback Beachhouse? Managed to score a table yet at Mothecombe’s much talked-about Schoolhouse? Fancy going for a hat trick, then? The creative force behind these two quirky, hugely popular foodie spots, each revelling in their own patch of South Devon’s heavenly coastline, also does a rather grand job in boutique B&Bs, as it happens. I bring you Exhibit A: Whitehouse.
While the Whitehouse’s stylish sisters are the subject of lots of Instagramming, hashtags and press, (Giles Coren infamously described Schoolhouse in The Times as the best restaurant in Northern Europe last summer), this handsome 6 room house in a village setting, ten minutes away from Dartmouth, is a rather more exclusive offering and has been welcoming discerning guests for years; which is why I only let out a teeny-tiny squeak of childish excitement when manager Lynne, on showing us to our room, casually let slip that a certain, sexy Hollywood A-lister ‘slept in this bed for weeks while he was here’. If only I could tell…but I’d only make you insanely jealous, since we’ve technically slept together if we’ve shared the same pillows, right?
Whitehouse is special, even on a grey and blustery day in mid-winter when we visited. If it wasn’t for the fact that it’s shrouded in privacy, hidden from the main road through the village, it would have serious curb appeal.
Inside, elegance gives way to the cheeky and theatrical, as owner Tamara Costin’s signature style reveals itself. If you’ve been watching Netflix’s The Crown, then there’s definitely less of the stiff and righteous Elizabeth and more of party-gal Margaret about the place. Splashes of colour and statement features pop up where you least expect it; the style rulebook is ripped up (probably upcycled into something more interesting, somewhere) and you get an eclectic, unique mix of bespoke furniture, one-off artworks and playful detail, that really works.
As a B&B, with manager Lynne at the helm, it definitely feels geared up to roll out the red carpet service of a small, luxury hotel, should you need anything, while at the same time laidback enough to serve as a home from home…the home you’ve always dreamt of owning, admittedly. If you can only steal a day or two here, you’ll be in a quandary about how best to use your time. It’s the kind of place where you want to retreat away from the world, lounge around in front of the fire in one of the two sitting rooms and be completely looked after, but be warned; the guilt at being minutes away from a stunning strip of coastline will inevitably gnaw away at you.
Once you’ve got your head around the downstairs, which is arranged in such a way that invites you to wander around and perch where you like, inside (or out in the gardens during warmer months), upstairs the fun begins all over again in the bedrooms, with the comfort dialled up a notch more. There’s no cookie-cutter approach here, either, with each room completely different in shape, size and style.
We were treated to the “A-list” room, as it shall now be known, although I had a sneaky peek in some of the others and would certainly not have felt short-changed in any of them. The most enormous, plumpy bed we ever encountered commands the room – it literally dwarfed my husband who attempted a starfish on arrival and couldn’t reach either end.
Old-school character, from fireplaces to stripped oak floors, blends with unexpected accents (wild horses wallpaper, anyone?), taking you through to a beautiful and very roomy bathroom.
Nothing’s uniform here, apart from the standard of luxury, including plasma screen tvs with Sky and DVDs to entertain, Nespresso machines for coffee and iPod docking stations, as well as REN goodies.
My husband particularly loved the bumper fridge disguised in a wooden chest. Seriously, nothing is done by halves here.
We somehow had the place to ourselves and suffice to say we slumbered in complete and utter peace.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Of course, it may have been the Rioja that helped with the zzzz’s. Having arrived rather last-minute and late in the day, we didn’t need to worry about dinner, but we did prop up the honesty bar, small but well-stocked next to the lounge.
Had we been desperate to dine, while Whitehouse doesn’t offer a full restaurant service (only pop-up events throughout the year), they’ll happily put together a platter containing a selection of little bites for you to nosh on by the fire (given the calibre of those sister restaurants, it’ll be a step above Iceland’s finest frozen, of that you can be assured). If you’re staying longer, then you can always take a taxi or drive over to Schoolhouse for dinner, highly recommended.
You won’t need to go anywhere for breakfast, though, and the restaurant is a beaut of a setting for your morning coffee and whatever else takes your fancy.
You’ll find breakfast to be as pleasing and as relaxed as the rest of it, with top-notch ingredients cooked beautifully.
But back to the bar, where you’re free to help yourself, unless there’s help at the pumps, bringing me nicely on to the next part of my review.
Whitehouse welcomes children of all ages, but I’d say it’s better suited to older ones (teens, really), who will enjoy being as lazy as the parents. It’s not really geared up for baby bottle warmers and changing mats, in order to protect the chilled vibe. But the other small ones in your life are more than welcome in all bedrooms and the lounges (on leads in the restaurant). And they’ll be super-happy and super-pampered during their stay.
Manager Lynne’s dog, Bo was Lord of the Manor, to our delight.
OUT & ABOUT
You’ll be seriously tempted to stay put (and maybe pitch up for a beauty treatment or two at the little hut in the garden), but it would be a crime not to get out and explore the South West Coast Path and fab pubs en route to the nearby towns of Dartmouth and Salcombe. You’re spoilt for choice in these parts, with brilliant stretches of beach at Slapton Sands and Blackpool Sands, as well as Totnes and Kingsbridge not too far away, for keen shoppers partial to the odd boutique. It’s basically a holidaymaker’s playground.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: couples looking to catch up on sexy time; well-behaved families (and by that I mean those who know how to chill); those looking for peace and quiet, a stones throw from the sea.
Not for: those looking for all the bells and whistles of a hotel. It’s high-class, but it is still a B&B and the feel is definitely that of a relaxed house.
The damage: high-end prices for a B&B but worth it. Rooms in off-season months range from £180 – £230.
Whitehouse, Chillington, Nr Kingsbridge, Devon, TQ7 2JX, Tel: 01548 581196. whitehousedevon.com