We spend almost four hours at Hotel Endsleigh and it made obvious what an excellent country house hotel should be all about. It was miles ahead of any large chain hotel (including 5 star establishments like The Dorcester and The Grosvenor House Hotel) and was imbued with character and appreciations for its guests.
We booked for a birthday dinner on the strengths of its reviews and knowing that it occupies a wonderful location overlooking the Tamar Valley on the border between Devon and Cornwall. The 1810s fishing lodge (designed by Jeffry Wyattville) is a wonderful architectural folly with a deceptively ramshackle back elevation with tiny soffit windows poking through the peaked roof. On arrival and walking into the gorgeous entrance hall with its roaringly inviting fireplace the gorgeous smell of conifer wood burning is just wonderful. The 1930s accents (crystal uplighters, the pattern of the curtains) and the cooky assemblage of Greek antiquity statuary, with a prominent bust of Homer, gives the place an air of relaxed luxury. No need for garish marble floors and polished bronze and brass accents, just exposing the beautiful original floor boards of the Grade I listed building give it a look of a lived in home and not a run of the mill establishment.
The staff we got to talk to through the evening were all good humoured, sweet, efficient and above all discrete. Making it all to clear how important it is to have great staff when you are in a people centred industry. They added personal touches that most chains wouldn’t even train them to do, such as to rearrange the seating at the relaxed library for our aperitif and making us feel comfortable to walk around the beautiful building and gardens without feeling that we were under constant surveillance. Also many hotel restaurants would not bother make too much effort if warned in advance that it was a birthday dinner. At Endsleigh we got the best table, overlooking the Tamar valley and looked out at the croquet lawn with the amazing listed planting schemes by Humphry Repton and Cornish woods in the distance. The cooking was faultless (and heavily seasonal, using local ingredients/produce) and was a perfect match to the amazing setting. It was one of those rare times when everything comes together and makes up a perfect, unforgettable evening.
If you are in Devon or nearby do pop in, it is one of the most wonderful places I have ever been. Alex Polizzi should be very proud of her establishment and we will surely return in the near future.
Have a look: http://www.hotelendsleigh.com