In fairness this should probably be three reviews rather than one as we have stayed with the enigmatic Sam and Huw three times now. The first was a long weekend away September 2012 on the overwhelming recommendation of previous guests. We stayed in Lawns room, which at the time had a lovely little balcony to sit out on in the morning drinking copious cups of tea. Huw had bounded out and was ready to welcome us even before we finished getting out of the car and though we had never been before we were greated as old friends and helped in with bags.
Check in was not so much perfunctory as an extension of the welcome, with Sam and Huw giving us a tour of the elegant country house (at which point I almost lost Lucy to the library space on the landing). To say the evening meal was good simply does not begin to do it justice, there are a range of options which change from day to day and include local produce and even home grown ingredients. Sam mans the front of house with his encyclopedic knowledge of their hand picked wine selection (at a range of prices but all of them reasonable) whilst Huw toils in the kitchen but do not fear, the fare is not simple "mom & pop" home cooking but far exceeds many restaurants we have been to and the level Huw elevates soups to is simply stunning (we're still telling people about them even now!). The room was cosy and comfy but having heard tale of Sam's breakfast skills we knew the best was yet to come. In the morning Huw resides front of house with his bubbly personality whilst Sam cooks up taste sensations in the kitchen (we particularly recommend the Exmoor breakfast & Blackstone eggs).
Needless to say the end of the weekend came all too soon and we said our farewells knowing we wouldn't be able to stay away for long.
Although at the time we had only been once, when we got engaged in Feb 2013 we could think of no place we would rather have our day but this intimate setting surrounded by stunning countryside and set about planning how to cajoule Sam & Huw into hosting it. Far from needing persuading they were their usual enthusiastic and helpful selves and soon it was all slotting into place.
Wedding preparations also gave us a handy excuse to throw in an extra trip down to Devon and needless to say we were not disappointed. Although the balcony of Lawns had now gone, the orangery which takes it place is a fantastic use of the space making the most of the garden views and a great place to meet other guests, enjoy both pre- & post- meal drinks or simply curl up and enjoy a good book. We were unsurprised to again find that most guests had visited before (including one couple who had been 14 times) and fully understand their urge to return again and again.
The food, welcome, staff & surroundings all stood up to the high expectations we had from our first visit and Paul and Gail, the latest additions to the team seem to have fitted in perfectly, matching the high standards of the rest of the team.
Throughout the wedding planning process Sam and Huw were always available either by phone or email to talk through options, ideas and details or even just to reassure and settle our wedding nerves.
The wedding was August 25th and all went to plan. We cannot express enough how easy and smoothly Sam, Huw and all the staff made this for us. We booked the whole hotel (which also gave us the opportunity to have a nosey at all the rooms and can vouch that, despite them having all been decorated differently, they are all in keeping with the decor of the hotel and we would happily stay in any of the rooms, although their latest addition, The Arlington Suite will always hold first place in our hearts with it's humongous bed and a bath you could lose an army in!). The food exceeded even their usual fantastic standards and the staff are truly a credit to both Sam & Huw and their wonderful boutique hotel.
Whether you are wanting a weekend away, an escape for a week with stunning scenery at your doorstep or a welcoming setting for a special occasion we would thoroughly recommend it heart & soul. Our only criticism is that they staunchly refuse to relocate to being just down the street from us so we could visit more often!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Old Rectory Hotel is a very special place. A wonderful mix of a stylish boutique country house coupled with an un stuffy relaxed atmosphere. Nestled on the stunning Exmoor coast in North Devon, The Old Rectory Hotel is a haven in which to unwind - no crowds, no traffic; just birdsong and jaw dropping scenery. This is somewhere magical to stop and smell the roses - so if you need to soothe the mind and replenish the soul, you couldn't choose a better place. At The Old Rectory Hotel you'll find the simple things done well; a warm welcome, thoughtful service, fabulous luxury rooms, fantastic local food from Exmoor and North Devon and, of course, an award winning wine list. If you were running away, this is where you would go! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Old Rectory Hotel
- Old Rectory Martinhoe
- The Old Rectory Hotel Martinhoe, Devon