Five Devon hotels where your dog is a welcome guest
- Credit: Archant
Food editor Susan Clark packed a suitcase and an Australian Kelpie in the back of the car and set off to find Devon’s best dog-friendly foodie hotels
It’s not that I am so attached to my dog, Laika, I can’t leave her behind when I head off to one of Devon’s new foodie destinations. It’s more that – as most dog owners will tell you – it’s such a faff and a fuss to find reliable doggie day or overnight care that frankly, it’s just easier to bring her with me.
Plus, if my Devon foodie weekend away includes my husband and therefore is likely to feature a brisk pre dinner (and calorie counting) walk or two, then it just feels plain wrong to be doing that dog-less.
So if I can bring the pooch, then I happily pack her bag, as well as mine.
As it happens – and luckily for us dog owners - there are actually far more dog-friendly good food destinations in Devon than I had imagined. Here’s one for each part of the county – North, South, East and West, plus one for the romantics among you.
Each hotel offers something just a little bit different for you (and your four-legged companions) but what they all have in common is a love of dogs and a love of good food.
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The Hotel: The Seagate, Appledore
The Vibe: Flip flops and beach towels
The Food: Good gastro-pub style
How you’ll feel: You’ll Wake Up Thinking About The Surf
Owned by dog-friendly husband-and-wife, Phil and Jan Halls, the Seagate has cleverly captured that elusive North Devon beach vibe which is actually quite tricky to get right. Try too hard and you’re busted for missing the point of living, working or holiday-ing somewhere that is so difficult to get to – and ruggedly beautiful for being so unspoiled – but try too little and you’ll be stuck with empty rooms an empty restaurant and an empty bar. Luckily the Halls are no newcomers to North Devon. They had a holiday home in Appledore for a long time before taking the plunge last year and spending £500,000 to revamp the Seagate and bring it into the 21st century. They call their place a ‘pub with rooms’ and work hard to make it all look effortless. In fact, it feels like a small seaside boutique hotel which also likes dogs. Bliss! Expect gastro-pub food with generous portions, a good mix of locals, visitors and hotel guests on the premises and lots of happy wagging tails because the sign that says Muddy Paws Welcome turns out to be a genuine invitation to bring the dog along.
What We Liked
Laika liked: All the fuss she got in the bar. Chasing her ball on the vast expanse that is the dog-friendly beach at Westward Ho! when the tide it out.
I liked: The Vivienne Westward wallpaper (quietly chic); watching the gig rowers and buses from my bedroom window and being made so welcome.
*En-suite sea view dog-friendly room from £95; price is per room per night and includes breakfast.
Main course meal in the restaurant from £9.95
The Hotel: Salcombe Harbour Hotel, Salcombe
The Vibe: Contemporary chic with a dash of yachting thrown in; pack your deckshoes
The Food: Head chef, Alex ?? is a former trawlerman so you’d be nuts to not have the seafood
How You’ll Feel: Hips & Happening
You might want to actually borrow a dog if you plan to visit this newly refurbished hotel and spa in Devon’s own ‘Chelsea-on-Sea’ because between you and me, I think the dog-friendly rooms beat the rooms in the main hotel hands-down. There are four rooms that allow dogs and they are set to the right-hand side as your drive in to unload your luggage. And if you know Salcombe, or the hotel, you will know this must mean they have a fantastic river view. As you are slightly away from the hub of the hotel the room feels much more like an apartment and since you are also on the ground floor, it’s easy peasy going in and out with the dog. This is also the hotel where Laika found her sea-legs and my husband fell in love - sadly, not with me but with Salcombe and that yachting vibe the hotel has wrapped around itself. We were invited (with the dog) to take a two-hour champagne cruise over to Kingsbridge as the sun set and when Minne, the hotel group’s £250,000 yacht made her way back up to her Christchurch, Dorset base, the following day we simply hopped on the South Sands to Salcombe ferry which, as it turns out, was just as dog friendly. The only thing you may fret about on arrival is a distinct lack of green space to head to with Fido. Fear not, just a short walk on past the hotel and down towards the town you will find a generous patch of civic lawn which is perfect for the early morning and late night pit-stop. The directors sat down to thrash out details like fresh milk in the fridge and binoculars in your room and this care and attention shows. Loved this hotel.
What We Liked
Laika liked: Watching the boats sailing by as she sat in front of the huge picture window
I liked: Uber-fluffy bathrobes, complimentary Gin decanter, the chance to skip off to the spa for a facial whilst letting a sleeping dog lie and a dessert of salted honeycombe ice cream and roasted banana that I still go to bed thinking about.
*Summer Dog-friendly rooms from £210
Main course at The Jetty restaurant from £16.95
Half-day pre-booked champagne cruise is £950
The Hotel: Lewtrenchard Manor
The Vibe: Dark and brooding Jacobbean with roaring fires and hidden rooms
The Food: Head chef, Matthew Peyre is one to watch; this is modern British Cuisine and very, very good.
How You’ll Feel: Like Royalty, or at least the new Lord/Lady of the Manor
There are some Devon hotels who seduce you with the promise of a Vispring mattress and a So To Bed hand-carved bed. I have these at home (long story) so imagine then my shock at waking up in a bed that was even more comfortable than my own. I kid you not. I know my visit was about the food but I keep talking about the bed that was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. Ever. I have a sneaky feeling the sheets and pillow cases had been starched. Heaven! And yes, there were dinky four-posted curtains but there was something else. I felt like the Princess after the pea had been ejected. I opened one eye and saw Laika snoozing happily in her own bed next to her water bowl and emergency biscuits. I opened the other and thought about the delicious meal we had eaten the night before, much of made from produce now growing in Lewtrenchard’s recently restored walled garden. Head chef Matthew is fast gaining a reputation as one of our most noted chefs in the South West and if you plan to come here, why not opt for the Chef’s Menu for dinner one night and let him show you just how impressive his cooking really is. Expect foams and mousses. Expect to be dazzled. Expect to leave planning your next visit.
What We Liked
Laika liked: The beautifully landscaped seven-acre grounds to run and explore.
I liked: Everything. Especially the feeling of very, very old (the building and its history) butting up against screamingly new (Modern British food cooked with flair). Plus the fact ALL the rooms are dog-friendly.
*Dog-friendly rooms from £145 for B&B, plus £15 per stay charge for the pooch.
Set three-course dinner from £49.50
The Hotel: Deer Park Hotel, Weston, Honiton
The Vibe: Genteel
The Food: River Cottage meets Country Life with a twist of Devon Foodie
How You’ll feel: You’ll wake up thinking Mr Darcy might be outside the window
See, I think the clue is in the name. I can imagine Jane Austen taking tea with the vicar at Deer Park and I am sure she was in the room next door to mine tying the little herb posies with their delicately fraying ribbons that are left in the rooms to welcome guests on arrival. Jane liked little dogs and so does Deer Park. On our arrival there are treats and welcome letters for Laika (who is not little at all) and in the horrible eventuality of rain, there is even an outdoor doggie spa for pampered pooches to get nice and dry and un-smelly again before coming back to the room. Dogs are not allowed in the dining room here but they are allowed in the conservatory so if yours is a howler in strange places, you don’t have to leave him or her alone when you decamp for dinner. Deer Park exudes the elegance of bygone times. It made me think of those BBC1 Charles Dickens dramas they used to show on Sunday Teatimes, long before videos or boxed sets or Netflix or iPlayers. The ones you would wait all week for the next episode. In other words, there’s a sense of time slowed to a gentler pace. Deer Park is now playing host to outdoor wood oven cookery classes and so does have one foot in modern foodie times. The hotel is raising its own chickens and pigs, has its own beehives and is replanting the veg garden that got traashed when its walls came down in the winter 2013/14 storms.
What We Liked
Laika liked: The additive-free doggie treats
I liked: The genteel vibe makes this the perfect place to escape with a good book (not Kindle) for a few days. Make sure you have the delicious Afternoon Tea in the drawing room. I also loved the foodie welcome hamper of home-made apple juice, honey and the aforementioned herbal bouquet.
*Dog-friendly rooms from £95 b&b
Main course meal in the restaurant from £9.95
deerparkhotelcountryhotel.co.ukOne for Luck…and the dog-owning romantics amongst you…
The Hotel: Moorland Garden
The Vibe: Romantique with a good dollop of Vintage
The Food: Serious cooking and a menu devised by South African foodie and relocated chef, Bruce Cole, in an award-winning restaurant
How You’ll Feel: You’ll wake up thinking you must be on honeymoon (and if not, why not?)
This award-winning hotel located so conveniently for both Plymouth and Tavistock, has only ever been, well, a hotel and it shows. All the rooms are light and airy; with high ceilings and stunning views over the South-facing gardens. What this means is there are no bad rooms, not even when you arrive with the dog. Moorland garden was built in the 1934 and its charm lies in its prettiness. Pretty, not flouncy. The Wildflower restaurant - now under the auspices of South African-born head chef, Bruce Cole - won the Taste of the West best SW Restaurant in 2013. Bruce is passionate about food and provenance and, should you get the inclination, you can easily chat for half an hour with him about the merits of a primrose flower curd. Dogs are not allowed in the formal restaurant but are allowed in the bar so you can eat there or take the dog for a walk around the nine-acre grounds to wear them out and then scoot out for a delicious dinner down the corridor. He or she won’t even notice you have gone! And you can always make it up to the dog the following day by booking your spot for a summer picnic in the hotel’s wildflower meadow and share some of foodie hamper treats once you’ve found your allocated spot and your hamper has arrived. Divine!
What We Liked
Laika: The comfy bar (which she is allowed in) and the proximity to Dartmoor where she was born
I liked: The prettiness of the hotel and half expecting Miss Marple to pop her head around the door. All the rooms overlook the gorgeous South Facing-grounds and gardens and the carpets have been lifted in the revamped dog friendly ground-floor rooms so no need to worry about muddy paws and carpets.
*There are four ground-floor dog-friendly rooms included in a special (and excellent) summer price of £99 per room to incude a two-course dinner in the award-winning Wildflower restaurant. There is a £10 a night additional charge for the dog.
Three course dinner in the restaurant from £28.95
*Dog-friendly summer 2014 room prices as supplied by the hotels at the time of going to press. These do not include any special weekend or discounted offers. Check the websites for these.