Xenia Taliotis stays at a Jacobean beauty in the southwest of England.


Okehampton, in lovely Devon, southwest England.

Check-in experience? A gracious welcome from the receptionist who had our bags taken to our room while we filled in a two-second form on newspaper choices and whether we wanted an alarm call (no thanks). A look around the reception area and the walk up a grand staircase gave us an indication of what to expect — history and English quirkiness brought together in an immaculate country house hotel.

What's so special? Everything. For a start Lewtrenchard sits in a secluded, lush valley with the River Lew running through parkland and beech-tree avenues that wind through ancient woodland. Then there's its age: it's a Jacobean beauty, built in the 1630s for the Gould family — the initials of the first owners, Henry and Ann, are carved in the overmantel above the original fireplace. The place is crammed with antiques, but the fact that it was a greatly loved home for centuries — right up until it became a hotel in 1949 - means that it is also full of individuality and personality. The most notable of its owners was Sabine Baring-Gould who brought whatever took his fancy back home. His eccentric and eclectic embellishments include a riotous fireplace extracted from a German castle, and an internal folly.


Room: An immaculate king-size double with views of the parkland. There are 15 rooms, some modern, others furnished with antiques and four-poster beds. If you book "Melton", you'll be sleeping in a bed that belonged to Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I.

Pillow talk: Why bother when the beds are this comfy? The mattresses are so deep even the Princess and the Pea would soon be snoring her head off.

Spend a penny: Fabulous bathroom with snuggly towels and dressing gowns and, best of all, quality toiletries by prestige company Noble Isle.

Wine and dine: Local game, meat and fish and vegetables from the hotel's walled kitchen garden appear in one stellar dish after another.

Noise: As quiet as the graveyard at St Peter's Church, a few minutes along the lane.

Exercise: no gym or pool but you are minutes away from Dartmoor National Park, the right place for loads of outdoor activity.

What's in the neighbourhood? You can reach the 90ft White Lady Waterfall at Lydford Gorge and Dartmoor National Park — Britain's largest expanse of unglaciated upland — within minutes, the historic city of Exeter in 45 minutes and the beaches and bays of the English Riviera in an hour.

Would I return: What do you think?

Lewtrenchard Manor is at Lewdown, near Okehampton in Devon. Phone: +44 1566 783 222.