To reach this handsome early-19th-century residence in Southleigh, A-roads are exchanged for paths of legendary narrowness and street lights for stars. But careful navigation will reward you with a setting of such pastoral perfection you will pinch yourself. And here life in the slow lane comes with added culinary clout.
What’s the story?
Chef Hugo Guest and his artist wife Olive have renovated and refurbished the country B&B, taking over from Hugo’s parents. The copper beech is aglow and the glossy black double doors have been flung open by the ‘new management’.
What is this place?
A restaurant with rooms, or a guesthouse with chefs. Sandwiched between the Jurassic Coast’s red sandstone cliffs and the verdant Blackdown Hills, this late-Georgian manor on a 15-acre smallholding is made up of five bedrooms – there’s a twin room and camp beds for children – plus a separate, dog-friendly annex with its own terrace at the back. The honesty bar is under the stairs within convenient reach of a vine-strung sunroom, downstairs sitting room and another on the broad upstairs landing. From Thursday to Saturday, supper is bookable for up to 30 people (not just house guests), as is Sunday lunch, served in the dining room or on the lawn overlooking a tennis court and a herd of inquisitive cows beyond the ha-ha.
Behind the scenes
When the rigours of running the property began to weigh on Hugo’s parents, he and Olive stepped in. Leaving behind a career in the City, Hugo retrained as a chef – latterly working at South London’s Sorella – and Olive gave up her advertising job, then along the way Sam Lomas (ex-River Cottage and Anglesey’s Tide/Llanw) joined them. Produce is grown locally, butter and yogurt are made in a large kitchen in the cottage behind the main house, and a temperature-controlled ageing room yields pickles and charcuterie. Sam’s baking skills mean sour- dough, pastries and, on arrival, a tray of warm rye cookies oozing with chocolate.
Food and drink
A pre-dinner vermouth spritz is followed by an Italian-influenced set menu: antipasti of house-cured salami, peas and broad beans and fresh curds, then courgette and crab linguine and barbecued hogget rump with heritage tomatoes, rounded off with strawberry and elderflower custard tart. Early in the week, overnight guests are offered a simple supper such as chicken pie with the flakiest pastry and a just-picked salad, perhaps eaten in the kitchen around a generous cedar table.
Who comes here?
Slow-food devotees, families rediscovering the joy of gatherings, cocooning solo travellers and the urban- dwelling cognoscenti who never knowingly miss an arrival as individual as this.
The love of craft and embracing an English version of agriturismo, extending from Hugo’s food sourcing (dayboats from Beer, his own polytunnel) to tableware by Devon potter Michael Emmett and the assiduously restored interiors by Studio Alexandra. With its hand-painted lamps, geometric tiles and floral wallpapers, Glebe is a celebration of colour and adornment.
We don’t like
On hot summer nights the thick-walled annex will be cool but come autumn you’ll want the woodburner lit.
Out and about
Don’t miss fish and chips near the shore at Beer, pictured, the 14th-century Fountain Head pub in Branscomb and acclaimed chef Michael Caines’ latest venue, Mickeys Beach Bar and Restaurant in Exmouth.
Address: Glebe House, Southleigh, Colyton EX24 6SD
Price: Doubles from £129
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