This is a lovely hotel in a converted church on the border between Dorset & Somerset. There are beautiful views through stained glass windows over both counties from the well-furnished rooms, each of which is themed around a different English poet.
The hotel has a small restaurant with one evening sitting. We didn't eat there in the evening, but breakfasts were superb, offering a range of locally sourced food and smoked salmon, haddock & kippers from a Cornish smokehouse.
One of the owners, Neil, provided a friendly welcome and excellent service. However, one strange event overshadowed our stay.
We had a large bouquet of flowers in our room, including several beautiful lilies. I bought these for my wife to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary.
While we were out, one of the hotel staff cut all the stamens off the lilies. This seemed like a very odd and quite intrusive thing for someone to have done. My wife was very upset that her flowers had been vandalised like this.
Later, when we were checking out, the other owner asked if everything had been OK, so I mentioned the damage to the lilies.
Instead of apologising, she became very confrontational, and said we shouldn't have brought lilies into the hotel because the pollen might stain the hotel's fabrics. She seemed to think it was perfectly OK to take a pair of scissors to someone else's bouquet of flowers.
Of course we're aware of the staining risk from lilies, so we'd taken extra care to position the flowers well away from any fabrics.
Then, out of nowhere, she accused us of "trashing the room". All we had done in the room the previous evening was share a tray of cheese & biscuits & a bottle of wine. There was no mess or damage and the room wasn't even untidy.
We were very disappointed that our stay was marred by this incident, and the owner's attitude. She didn't seem to care about our experience at all.
If you do stay at the hotel, be sure to visit the pub over the road, the Yarcombe Inn. It's a community pub, run by volunteers from the village. Any profits are re-invested in community activities. The service there is a little slow, but the food and beer is first rate, and they have a good selection of under-priced wine.
There are also several beautiful walks which start & finish in the village, and a leaflet describing the walks is available from the hotel.
The location is very convenient for visiting the coast, Seaton, Sidmouth and Lyme Regis are all within easy reach. The beautiful Dart Valley is half an hour away, and Exeter is a similar distance.
Overall, it's a nice hotel in a lovely location with plenty to do and see, provided you stay on the right side of the owners. If being treated well as a hotel guest is important to you, you might want to look elsewhere in this beautiful area.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Relax and unwind in our beautiful boutique 4* Restaurant and Rooms hotel set within an historic grade II listed old school built in 1870. With stone mullioned & leaded stained glass windows, fabulous individually designed decor and L’Occitane bathroom products, The Belfry provides the quality & level of service you would normally expect from a much larger hotel. Just off the A303 & close to the dramatic Jurassic Coast and Antiques Galore in Honiton. ... more less
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