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“Beautiful Georgian Townhouse”

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Southernhay House Hotel
Ranked #19 of 31 Hotels in Exeter
Certificate of Excellence
High Wycombe, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
276 reviews
73 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 142 helpful votes
“Beautiful Georgian Townhouse”
Reviewed May 7, 2014

Let me start by saying that I like this comfortable hotel very much, the room that we had was lovely and the restaurant very good indeed. However the thoughtful décor of the building, the quiet position close to the cathedral and the restaurant deserved a 5* excellent and the reason that it was a 4* is down to being let down by a few minor but disappointing details. On arrival we were greeted by one of the staff about to go off duty and without hesitation he obtained the key and showed us to our room, carrying our luggage there too. A good start. After a stroll around the interesting historic centre of old Exeter we returned to the hotel and found the smart cocktail bar was buzzing and literally full of people enjoying a 'Friday' drink on the way home. The atmosphere was great and we joined in. After a shower in the very expensively equipped marble tiled shower room, we returned to the restaurant to find that we were the only table booked in and on a Friday night that is disconcerting. We feared the worst. To the contrary the meal was excellent, the three tomato and whipped English mozzarella starter was a brilliant twist to the Italian classic and the dressed crab that followed was fresh and cleverly presented. This was a very good meal unfortunately served in the solitude and silence of ourselves, atmosphere lacking. Breakfast the following morning was good too, the perfectly cooked boiled eggs a rare treat served around a huge Victorian walnut dining table, ourselves at one end and the other end laid up for the only other guests that night. The hotel has been exquisitely renovated and decorated with Indian silks and very interesting pictures and filled with a mixture of antique and deco furniture, everything is in excellent condition. Our large bedroom was likewise expensively decorated along with a large and very comfortable bed and a large high-tech television mounted on the wall. So what was my problem then? It seems that many reviews do not take into account the cost element. The more that it costs, the greater the expectation. There were a few too many small things that reduced the enjoyment level a few notches to be able to award the highest accolade. For example, there was no cupboard to hang clothes in the bedroom, just five smart wooden pegs on the wall along with only four smart hangers that left us having to drape jackets and dresses on chairs. When I raised this issue on booking out, I was informed too late that a mobile hanging rail was available. The shower was excellent with masses of hot water flowing but the washbasin had only a dribble of warm water and I for the first time in many years I had to shave using cold water, a small technical hitch that is fixable. One of the lamps in the shower room annoyingly flickered too, only worth mentioning with the other matters. The second night in the cocktail bar required a bottle of champagne to celebrate an amazing and rare victory by our football team so a rose champagne was chosen. This was not in stock so we were offered an equivalent from a previous wine list that was a few pounds more expensive and we were charged the higher price. Perhaps I am being picky here but the 'new' lower price would have been nice gesture especially when paying over £70 a bottle. The second breakfast was served in the dining room with the many other guests that had appeared on Saturday night and was a more leisurely affair being on a Sunday. Perhaps I took more that the allotted time scanning the football results in the paper and caused a problem. When the waitress appeared ahead of my schedule with the plates of magnificent scrambled egg and bacon, the unfinished muesli and fruit was unceremoniously removed from before me, the cooked breakfast put in its place leaving me with a spoon in hand and the muesli the other side of the table where it was impossible for me to reach it with any style. Quite extraordinary. Eventually the breakfast plates were removed and warm toast served, but the muesli was still on the table when we left! I liked nearly everything about this hotel, it has style, presence, great location and is away from the hubbub of the town centre while being close to it. It just does not quite get to where it should be for the money. We visit many hotels around the world, some more expensive and some less so I would like to think that we have a reasonable expectations on value. However I am fully aware that on another day some of these little deficiencies might not have occurred, that I would have been allowed to finish my muesli in peace and I then would now be joyously recording, 'great hotel, wonderful restaurant, fantastic value, five star'. Perhaps next time as I would return.

Room Tip: Ask for one with adequate wardrobe facilities!
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Graham P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
southernhayhouse, Owner at Southernhay House Hotel, responded to this review, June 14, 2014
Thank you for your very generous review. I have certainly taken your niggles on board; I was there on checkout and you spoke to me in person. It's really refreshing and kind of you to appreciate the design and thought that has gone into this project - it is a labour of love on my part and that of our dedicated and professional staff. I trust we'll see you again in the future, when you return to further explore the alleyways of Exeter.
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269 reviews from our community

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English first
Berkhamsted, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
39 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed April 30, 2014

We stayed here a while ago now, but loved the experience. The Staff were brilliant (we did recognise a few from Burgh Island which helped) as they are at Burgh island. This hotel has a very different feel from its sister hotel but is well worth the visit. The room was perfect as were the pre-dinner cocktails and dinner itself. We will be back i am sure.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank garethgreig
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
southernhayhouse, Owner at Southernhay House Hotel, responded to this review, May 6, 2014
Thank you for your generous review and we all appreciate your comments about the staff - most have been trained at (and some still work part time/swap locations with) Burgh. We don't aspire to the Burgh black tie glamour but we do hope to achieve similar standards of customer service, quality and design. Let alone food and drink......we hope to welcome you many time in future for cocktails and that sneaky city break.
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Devon England
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed April 27, 2014 via mobile

I took my wife to this hotel as a birthday suprise and we were delighted with its location 2 or 3 minutes walk from the Princess Hay shopping. The service is second to none and cleanliness superb. Only slight criticism is the glass door on the toilet in the room which I thought was a step too far. Apart from that,o complaints. Did not try the restaurant as there is a brilliant italian restaurant 5 minutes walk away. Will definitely return

  • Stayed January 2014
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    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank TerryAnneMarie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
southernhayhouse, Owner at Southernhay House Hotel, responded to this review, May 6, 2014
Thank you for your kind review and I'm pleased that you enjoyed your stay. Glass door .... don't get me started on this one ;). It was our pleasure to welcome you to central Exeter and Southernhay. Please do try our risotto on your next stay; it might even beat Carluccio's!
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Torquay, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed April 27, 2014

Me and my wife were on our way to the exeter food festival when we popped in for a drink. We Felt very welcomed from the moment we arrived to the moment we left. So instead of eating at the food festival we came back and they managed to find us a table. It's a great menu which has been carefully thought out. It is not so large that you don't know what to choose. The food was presented superbly and tasted as good as it looked. The strawberries and cream are something of a masterpiece for something which sounds so simple to being served in only what can be described as a goldfish bowl the flavours are out of this world . The chef popped out throughout the meal to make sure all was good. We left there feeling thoroughly looked after and will definitely return again. Thanks for a great evening

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Trevor L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
southernhayhouse, Owner at Southernhay House Hotel, responded to this review, May 6, 2014
Thank you for stopping by....and for your lovely comments. It was our pleasure to serve you (and more so in that we had just changed to our summer menu, so we were all quite excited by the new dishes on offer). Our strawberries and cream is a major success - and I'm pleased you were able to meet Chef Rob1 (we have 2 Robs in the kitchen, thus....). While Exeter Food Festival is a fabulous showcase for our local producers, customers often miss the fact that we use them all year round so it's really gratifying to read your kind comments and understanding of our menu.
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Kingsbridge, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed April 14, 2014

We went for a valentines treat and we're not disappointed. Our room was lovely although there was nowhere to store clothes - for a longer stay this would be a real issue. Also not so keen on the toilet with no door scenario but the roll top bath was amazing. Bed comfy and general facilities good. We had a meal and the food was lovely, staff attentive and overall it felt special. I would definitely go back.

Room Tip: You need to book dinner ASAP as they get fully booked very quickly
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank louise D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
southernhayhouse, Owner at Southernhay House Hotel, responded to this review, April 24, 2014
Thank you for your review and your lovely comments. Couple of things: we do have antique clothes rails, in addition to the hangers, in two of our rooms - Sugar and Tulip - which can easily be moved to other rooms for longer stays or people with a lot of social engagements. Do just ask us if you need extra space for clothes. You'll know my views on the "loo with no door" thing - arrrgh; all of our showers and loos have full length glass doors! (I'm beginning to feel a bit "out there" on this one but will persist!). But, most sincerely, I appreciate and we all value your generous comments and are very happy that you enjoyed your stay with us - do come back and let us look after you for many happy escapes in Exeter in the future.
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Aylesbury, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed April 13, 2014

We were enticed to Southernhay Hotel because it claims to be the sister hotel to the wonderful Burgh Island Hotel. We were expecting style, good food and excellent service to match its sister. Unfortunately it failed on all three counts. These sisters do not talk to each other.

Our room, Wilberforce, was unusually designed. The toilet was actually in the bedroom, housed behind a wall with a see through glass door at one end with a large gap above the door to the ceiling. One could feel constipation coming on immediately. At the other end of this wall was the shower, also housed behind a clear glass door. The bed was very comfortable, but there was very little room between it and the TV wall. There was no wardrobe or shelving to store clothes.

Dinner was average in standard, but small in quantity. The beetroot starter was more like art on a plate with less than half a beetroot distributed around the plate. The bread basket eventually arrived with two tiny rolls far too small for the basket.

Breakfast was particularly disappointing. The buffet was exceptionally poor, with only one choice of cereal and a selection of dried fruit and nuts. Fresh fruit was brought on request, but you had to be quick, because it vanished after a few minutes! Pancakes ordered with fresh fruit topping arrived with bacon, not very good for a vegetarian. The porridge ordered to be made half milk and water, came with cream!

Room Tip: Go to a different hotel!
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank bikingbarnett
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
southernhayhouse, Owner at Southernhay House Hotel, responded to this review, April 22, 2014
I am truly sorry that your stay in our Wilberforce Room induced constipation; a most uncomfortable state to be in although I am not clear whether you mean this literally or metaphorically. I'm now really going to go for it on the loo/shower front and say, "if you are worried about your partner craning his/her neck around 90 degrees into the gap between a blank wall and the (full length) closed door of our loo or shower to watch you at your ablutions, please don't book in Ambergris, Opium, Wilberforce or Chai." I have said before in this forum and will say again, for the record, this is a Grade II* building and we worked with the Planners internally and externally to achieve design solutions appropriate to and sympathic with the building. A lego box in the corner of a Georgian room was never going to be the answer to en suite, although we have several different bathroom configurations. If you had mentioned this on check in, you would have had the option to upgrade to a different room.
I apologise, also, in advance for my next comment but what, exactly, do you mean by "claims to be the sister hotel of Burgh Island"? We are two hotels in the same ownership and we are passionate and personal about our levels of service, which are appropriate in each location. I am surprised after that that you didn't enjoy the breakfast as you did eat two of them, including the porridge which had a small dollop of cream to finish - Chef's habit - and which we would happily have re-made for you if asked. In all, I am really sorry that we couldn't be made aware of your concerns at the start of your stay (including the fact you are vegetarian) and addressed them there and then or and referred to you one of Exeter's other excellent establishments.
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Devon
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed April 13, 2014

We decided to book a room for the night after our wedding on Friday 11th April.
We were warmly welcomed and shown to our room (Tulip) which was truly incredible. Once unpacked, we decided to pop out for dinner and on our return to the hotel, we decided to have some cocktails in the bar. My partner and I do not drink, so we asked for some recommendations. The barman was incredibly helpful and asked us what flavours we liked and proceeded to make two lovely 'mock-tails.'

The service was second to none and this was evident at breakfast today.
The food at breakfast was vast and fresh. The pancakes with maple syrup and bacon are highly recommended and the full English was delightful too.

The room, as mentioned earlier, was romantic and highly comfortable. The bath and bed were enormous and a real luxury after a busy wedding day.

We rate this hotel highly and certainly intend to return.
Thank you for such a fabulous stay!

Room Tip: The Tulip room is perfect for couples as the bathroom is incorporated into the room. The toilet and...
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  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank LeahDevon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
southernhayhouse, Owner at Southernhay House Hotel, responded to this review, April 22, 2014
Thank you for your lovely review; we were delighted to welcome you here for your wedding night and Tulip (our largest room, with a quite sumptuous bath) was an excellent choice. It's refreshing to have a review featuring our mocktails - Paulie, our Bar Manager, is assiduous in making sure all tastes are catered for and is rightly proud of his recipes. We all sincerely hope you'll retreat back to us whenever you feel a complete break is needed - or just as a romantic treat for a night.
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Additional Information about Southernhay House Hotel

Property: Southernhay House Hotel
Address: 36 Southernhay East, Exeter EX1 1NX, England
Location: United Kingdom > England > Devon > Exeter
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
#4 Luxury Hotel in Exeter
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Southernhay House Hotel 4.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Charming boutique townhouse hotel with 10 individual bedrooms, chic cocktail bar, private dining room for parties and informal Club Room for casual dining and meeting. Al fresco eating and drinking on our terraces and secluded garden. Food is modern, local and highly seasonal with daily changing menus. Southernhay House is located in the centre of Exeter just yards from the Cathedral and within easy reach of the University and Quayside. Staff are long-term, friendly and live locally so are able to recommend seasonal and regional activities during your stay. Languages spoken: English, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Hebrew. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Southernhay House Hotel Exeter, Devon

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