Roaring inglenook fireplaces, grand gardens and chandelier-lit entrance halls: visiting a country house for lunch is an absolute must build for any West country winter break. Whilst the region’s beautiful beaches might be blustery at this time of year, its country house restaurants are warm and welcoming, with excellent food and acres of grounds to explore afterwards too.
Here are five of our favourite country houses to visit for lunch, plus details of our nearest Travelodge hotels.
Combe House Devon, Gittisham, Devon
Set in 3,500 acres of country estate on the edge of a pretty cob and thatch Devon village, Combe House is one of the finest Elizabethan houses in the region. The fabulous sweeping drive that passes free-roaming Arabian horses and pheasants (go slow!) is a good indication that you’re entering a different world – and everything after confirms it. From the grand entrance hall with open fire, to the drawing and dining rooms with period décor and furniture, this is one place where, thanks to the down-to-earth and friendly staff, you can really pretend that you’re to the manor born. Lunch in the award-winning restaurant won’t disappoint either – the food is beautifully presented and delicious and often includes meat, game and vegetables from the estate.
Stay at: Travelodge hotel Exeter M5
Tredethy House, near Bodmin, Cornwall
This beautiful Cornish country house originates back to Tudor times and in more recent years was the home of a Thai prince. Standing in acres of its own grounds in an area of outstanding beauty, inside the atmosphere is elegant but relaxed; everything looks as a country house should but you don’t need to have any concerns about knocking over the priceless Ming vase. when it comes to lunch things are a little more laid-back than you might expect, too. Tredethy’s restaurant, Trattoria, serves very authentic, simple but excellent Italian food using lots of seasonal and local produce.
Stay at: Travelodge hotel Wadebridge
Endsleigh, Milton Abbot, Devon
Crunching up the gravel drive of this country house restaurant set in 108 acres of gardens, woodlands, follies and grottos, you can half imagine that you’re returning to the family seat for the weekend … if only! Endsleigh was built as the Duke of Bedford’s very own hunting and fishing lodge, but now welcomes visitors to the house and grounds. Arrive with enough time to wander the grounds before lunch, then sit in one of the elegant reception rooms with a glass of something relaxing before lunching with views of the valley spread before you. The menu offers lots of choice and is well priced – try a club sandwich with fries for £12.
Stay at: Okehampton Sourton Cross hotel
The Mount Somerset, near Taunton, Somerset
Light, airy and elegant, The Mount Somerset is a clever blend of old and new, country and town. A beautiful Regency country house, it has high ceilings and sweeping staircases, but has recently been refurbished with elegant but modern furnishings. It’s also very conveniently located, being just 2 miles from the M5 yet at the foot at the Quantock and Blackdown Hills. Once you’re within its grounds you feel miles from anywhere. The restaurant continues the theme, too: though there are thoroughly modern dishes such as goat’s cheese Caesar salad with pickled quail eggs on the menu, there are also old favourites such as fish and chips, too.
Stay at: Travelodge hotel Taunton
Lewtrenchard Manor, near Okehampton, Devon
This imposing but beautiful Jacobean manor house was built in the 1600s and has acres of grounds and maintained gardens that are worth the visit alone. Sitting on the edge of dramatic Dartmoor it’s swathed in stories, with secret passageways and ghosts too – ask the staff to tell you about them but be warned, you may lose the nerve to visit the powder room. The mysterious, wood-panelled rooms add to the atmosphere, though there are also plenty of ornate and elegant touches too. Lewtrenchard’s three AA rosette food is the biggest draw here and you can expect excellent fine dining in dishes such as Devon crab risotto with curry essence.
Stay at: Okehampton Sourton Cross hotel