Last updated on November 28th, 2016
Of all the hotels I’ve stayed in over the years, I have never felt as welcomed or as dazzled as at the Glazebrook House Hotel in Devon in the UK. The extremely well-curated design of the two-year-old hotel, combined with the inspired Alice in Wonderland-themed rooms, and the hospitality of the owners makes this not only a truly remarkable hotel, but a memorable one as well.
On our recent trip to the south west of England, hosted by VisitBritain, we were booked into the Glazebrook House for one night. Located just a few miles off the A38 motorway, the Glazebrook House is a perfect location for visiting the south west of England. Much to our relief, there were no tiny windy roads we had to navigate to get there. And when we pulled up to the fully-renovated house and saw the beautiful gardens, complete with extra-large teacups on the tables, we instantly knew that this wasn’t going to be an ordinary hotel stay.
And ordinary it was not. Exquisite and impeccably designed surprises reveal themselves around every corner of the house. There’s the incredible red marble bar in the lounge that was brought over from China. There’s the wall of drums above the grand staircase, the bird skeleton as a stairwell centerpiece, the vintage carousel horse and road signs on the landing: everywhere you turn is another enchanting piece of artwork.
The interior design for the house was led by London designer Timothy Oulton, whose inspiration and vision included British revival decor, complete with handmade furniture and antique curios. The whole place feels truly inspired. I could have poked around the house gawking at things for a week.
The theme of Alice in Wonderland was chosen for the rooms after most of the design work was complete, and it fits the feel of the house perfectly. There are eight uniquely designed rooms (White Rabbit, Jabberwacky, Tweedle Deez, Mad Hatter, Gryphon, Cheshire Cat, Catepiller, and Bread & Butterflies).
Each room is decked out in luxurious, yet whimsical decor, like the doll houses that are hung sideways above the bed in the Mad Hatter room, and the King & Queen of Hearts playing cards on the wall in the White Rabbit room. The beds are heavenly. The bathrooms are well appointed with 3-D marble heated floors (also brought over from China), full-sized soaking tub and shower.
After exploring the room, which included enjoying a glass of wine and a beer from the free mini-bar and eating the chocolates from the small box labeled “Eat Me”, we headed down to the lounge for a pre-dinner cocktail and a chance to flip through the picture book of the hotel renovation.
We were joined by the owner, Pieter, who sat down for a drink with us and shared the story of the renovation. As we spoke, he got up several times to greet other guests and make sure everyone in the room was comfortable and well taken care of. Never have I seen an owner who was so attentive to his guests. You could clearly see the dedication and love he has for the hotel and it shines through in every aspect of the place.
Hospitality is second nature for all of the employees at Glazebrook House. Each staff member we spoke with or were assisted by was happy to be there and equally happy to share this gem with us. It turned what might feel like customer service at a typical 5-star hotel into something much more personal – almost like we’d been invited to a friend’s house for the weekend – albeit a really stylish friend with impeccable taste.
As we were sitting in the lounge with our cocktails, we told Pieter that we hadn’t yet tried any wine from England, and he happily brought out a few of his favorites from Sharpham Winery for us to try. The first was a Dart Valley Reserve white blend and the second was a Barrel Fermented white. I really wish we’d had time for a tour at Sharpham, located only about 12 miles from Glazebrook House, where they make both wine and award-winning cheeses, but since we didn’t have the time, we were glad we at least had the opportunity to drink it with our dinner.
After a few samples of wine, our server, who by this point really did feel more like an old friend, came by the lounge for our dinner order. The restaurant at Glazebrook is overseen by Michelin Starred chef & Masterchef Professionals winner, Anton Piotrowski. His staff of talented chefs have designed a menu that is nearly impossible to choose from, given the many great options.
Normally, I would be swayed toward the Taster Menu, which includes 8 courses for £64 (£96 with wine flight), but we’d had a rather large lunch. So with the help of Pieter, I ordered the beef fillet carpaccio with horseradish ice cream as an appetizer and the Moroccan lamb as a main. Nick ordered the scallops with air bagged smoked eel, tempura squid, curry apple, and chorizo jam as an appetizer, and the Phillip Warren sirloin steak with braised oxtail, foie gras, king oyster mushroom, and triple cooked chips for a main.
The dining room is possibly my favorite room in the house. One wall is covered in commemorative plates, while the opposing wall is covered in antique serving trays. The wooden tables and chairs give a rustic feel that is juxtaposed by the modern tableware.
The scallops came out of the kitchen smoking – on purpose. Never have I seen scallops delivered with such flair. And they were delicious, as was the carpaccio. Ask me when was the last time I had horseradish ice cream. Sounded interesting, and it was, in a really good way. The Moroccan lamb was perfectly cooked and accompanied by a tasty couscous. The steak was also really well prepared and the tender braised oxtail and seared foie gras was the perfect addition.
Unfortunately, we had somewhere to be early the next morning so we weren’t able to stick around for breakfast, which judging by the menu would have been spectacular. Instead we had to dash out after a restful night in the extremely comfortable bed in the Mad Hatter room. The whole drive back to Wiltshire I was sad that we weren’t able to spend a second night there, and was hoping that we’d make it back again soon.
(As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own honest reflection on our travel experiences).