Location: Tavistock, Devon
Perfect for: Food lovers, rolling hills and the coast
Farmers’ markets, rugged coastlines, and sun-drenched beaches; rock pools, Dartmoor ponies, and pretty little villages – Devon is a county full of Old English charm. Home to Britain’s oldest known settlement, a 400 million year old UNESCO Global Geopark, and one of Europe’s top
Neanderthal ice age caves, it also hosts the stunning English Riviera and part of the Jurassic Coast.
The Horn of Plenty is an independently owned 4-star country house hotel with 3 AA rosette restaurant. It is situated in the Tamar Valley, an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that borders Dartmoor National Park. It is also set within the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape UNESCO World Heritage site – and the views are spectacular.
Horn of Plenty Review
“Isn’t that the White Horse?” enquires Monsieur 2 as he points out of our train window to a chalky-white figure carved into the hills near Westbury. He’s right, of course. It’s the Westbury White Horse, said to be one of the oldest of Wiltshire’s several carved white horses and close to an old Iron Age fort.
We have swapped sat-nav stresses for lounge-loving comfort, gorgeous views, gin and tonics by taking the train from London to Devon, and we’re glad we did – the scenery has been spectacular, particularly the views of the Devon countryside and coastline. And it only gets better when we arrive at our destination.
“You weren’t wrong about the view!” says Monsieur 2 as our taxi sweeps onto the forecourt of The Horn of Plenty. I have to agree: the vista of the Tamar Valley is even more spectacular than it had looked on the website. We’re wowed.
Reception is inside the main house, an old manor tastefully restored to give a sense of relaxed grandeur. “Your room’s in the coach house” the super-friendly receptionist chirps; we follow her out of the house and up a short drive to it.
Here the décor is much more contemporary; we’re in Room 16, a deluxe, well-appointed with a large bed, a lounge area and – an instant favourite feature – a tiny terrace just big enough for two chairs, looking out onto rolling green countryside. Bucolic bliss!
To go with the lovely welcome gesture of home-made muffins, we make tea – there’s a good selection, and fresh milk in the fridge – and take it on the terrace, enjoying the complete silence (we’re a long way from any roads) bar from the bleating of sheep. “It’s the definition of ‘escaping it all’, isn’t it?” my beloved muses, sipping his tea.
After taking it in turns to have a soak in the free-standing bath in the generously-sized bathroom – which has full-size products from Duck Island, a new one on us but very nice – it’s time to head down for dinner.
We’re warmly greeted. The elegant lounge is packed with diners who’ve travelled from afar to visit the award-winning restaurant, so we decide to go straight to our table.
We’re the youngest and most casually dressed couple (all but one of the tables are taken by couples!) by some way, but we don’t feel uncomfortable and we have a great corner table looking out at the view – even more beautiful as night falls and lights twinkle in the distance.
“Now that’s what I call a G & T!” I exclaim as practically a goldfish-bowl brimming with local Plymouth gin and tonic is placed in front of a wide-eyed Monsieur 2. My Negroni is smaller but excellent, and the cocktails slip down a treat as we browse the menu and enjoy some delicate canapés. There’s a seven-course tasting menu for £65 but we like to have different things so go for the more modest three-course option.
Starters, rose veal sweetbreads with beer-pickled onions and roasted onion consommé for me; hand-picked Cornish crab and crayfish salad with curry spiced mayonnaise for Monsieur 2, suffer respectively from being a little too rich and rather light on flavour, but they’re elegant dishes which awaken our palates nicely.
Our main courses – Monsieur 2 chooses pork belly with squid, while I decide on fallow deer with Muscat grapes and baby vegetables – are more robust, and great combinations of textures and tastes. We finish with a selection of fantastic local cheeses and ‘peanut and dulce textures with malted milk ice-cream’ which isn’t as sweet as we’re expecting, quite welcome after all the richness before it.
Back in our room we snuggle up in bed and watch some late night TV on the large wall-mounted flatscreen. The bed’s super-comfy and we’re soon fast asleep.
After reviving ourselves in the rainfall shower, it’s time for breakfast. The greeting’s as warm as ever and the menu covers all the usual bases but with one very welcome addition: “Look, you can choose to have a complimentary glass of Prosecco!” says Monsieur 2 delightedly – so, of course, we do.
We both order the ‘Full English’ and although there’s no faulting the quality of the cooking and all-local produce, it’s a little on the dainty side – one egg, one rasher of bacon, one sausage – so we’re glad to also be offered plenty of toast, as well as being able to help ourselves from a buffet of cereals, pastries and fruit, and don’t leave hungry.
It’s time to leave – we’re heading off for a day at the beach with our gorgeous godson – but not before we’ve taken a long stroll around the beautifully-maintained gardens. As with check-in, and indeed the service we’ve received from everyone here, checking out is friendly, warm and efficient.
“This is a really great place for a peaceful retreat, isn’t it?” Monsieur 2 sighs contentedly. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
We travelled with Great Western Railway from London to Plymouth, and changed onto a different train from Plymouth to Gunnislake, the nearest train station to Horn of Plenty.Not what you’re looking for. Discover other amazing UK cultural destinations and city breaks here
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