In a word
With its tartan staircase and old English memorabilia, non-UK residents would find this a quintessential slice of Britain, served right in the rural countryside near Dartmoor.
Secondly – with its literary references and character themed rooms, Glazebrook is a writer’s haven.
In addition, anyone wishing to get a break and explore Dartmoor would enjoy this incredible hotel and its unique and boutique appearance. Couples can also have a wedding ceremony within the house, and it has a board room, which means all bases are covered by the hotel’s facilities. They’re even working on a spa!
The restaurant is worth travelling to from anywhere in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset or Somerset; Dan Ford is definitely one to watch on the restaurant scene, and with the Epicurean food evenings, locals should keep an eye on events at Glazebrook.
Named after characters from Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the rooms each had personality. We stayed in the White Rabbit Room, which featured giant playing cards above the enormous bed. Other rooms had cloches filled with artefacts, such as feathered hats, tobacco pipes and antiques to bring the theme alive. As such the house has a character that connects you to your past with each of its idiosyncrasies.
Designer Timothy Oulton has created an ambience in each room which is a contemporary take on the novel’s interesting characters, with the aim of connecting people. Having survived the Somme due to an overlong scarf, my grandfather was a prolific pipe smoker, who played in a brass band. My mother has a penchant for feathered hats and I am a writer, and interestingly the collection of objects held us all together within the Alice in Wonderland theme.
Other rooms; the Mad Hatter, Caterpillar, Jabberwocky, Tweedle Deez, Gryphon, Cheshire Cat and Bread and Butterflies, all have amazing wet rooms and an attention to detail in the furnishings. Each housed chandeliers, handmade velvet curtains, antique teak flooring with underfloor heating and large baths.
Not all hotel reviews include a breakdown of the bed, but Oulton’s ‘Baa-Baa’ bed is worthy of a paragraph of its own. Larger than queen size, the bed has about quarter of a meter of pure sheep’s wool surrounding it. Rather as Alice felt in Wonderland, it dwarfed me and the ‘tache, who are both not little people. Comfortable, enormous and cosy, this bed is chosen to represent the white rabbit, and gave one of the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had.
One of the most positive experiences I took from my stay at Glazebrook was how at ease the staff made me feel. Having been brought up in Boscastle in a converted barn, I’d not really experience this level of luxury, and yet felt completely looked after.
At dinner and breakfast, I never had to refill my glass, where the staff were so attentive, and in a non-threatening way. In my previous guises as waiting staff and front of house, I know just how tricky a line this is to navigate, and yet Pieter’s staff had the balance just right.
With such an inspirational and beautiful setting it was amazing to see that everyone took pride in being part of Glazebrook; largely due to the influence of owner Pieter. Like Mary Quicke, Pieter is a true philanthropist and enjoys seeing staff and guests become part of his vision when they set foot into his take on Wonderland.
Shit, I’ve just remembered the publication’s called TASTING Britain. So you’ll wanna know about the food, right? If I was doing a separate review for the restaurant, I would definitely keep the same rating. I kicked off with a zingy, Thai infused crab ravioli, which felt like it had been created with me in mind. Wherever I can I’ll eat seafood, and am a real fan of Asian fusion, as is the chef Dan Ford.
Overseen by his buddy Ben Palmer, who is the hotel’s executive head chef, Dan is making quite a name for himself. Paying particular attention to using all of the amazing produce the Devon countryside and beaches have to offer, game and seafood, as well as seasonal veg are all presented in keeping with the hotel’s unique atmosphere.
For mains, it was difficult to make a choice. Dan had created a venison rolled in cocoa, which was perfectly pink inside, and was served with local seasonal vegetables. The ‘tache put this at the forefront of food he’s had. I opted for a delicate turbot fillet, served with a crumbed langoustine and lobster bisque – which, again, could have been created for me. Every bite was to be savoured, and demonstrated a range in Dan’s cooking.
Even the desserts were first class, with the lightest brownie I have ever had, with an almost ganache-like softness under its crisp shell.
Breakfast was a very comfortable affair; again putting local produce to use. The ‘tache indulged in an eggs benedict, with bright pink local ham hock, expertly poached egg and fresh chives on top of Dan’s tasty hollandaise. I had a smoked salmon version of the same, which was created with as much attention as the meal the previous night.
Pieter was proud to talk about his Epicurean evenings, where Dan creates a menu in-keeping with a specific theme. For Burns’ Night, the theme was Scottish and a piper piped the haggis in. This month Dan has turned his hand to creating a Bavarian and Austrian menu, which Pieter expertly pairs with wines he has selected.
Oh yeah. And the booze. This needs a mention of its own for absolute sure!
Even the bar had oversized sweet jars, which furthered the allusion to Wonderland. Things are nto quite as they seem at Glazebrook, which means surprises hide around every corner.
With a mutherflippin’ wine room, Glazebrook takes its booze very seriously. Pieter, who was brought up in the hotel trade in South Africa, before travelling the world, takes pride in his extensive and broad wine list, as well as his select whiskies. He selected the wines to go with dinner, which ranged from light and crisp to full-bodied and chocolatey. Each one complemented the meals well, and led me one step further to nirvana!
The hotel’s strapline is surprise, delight, enrich, and after being treated to Pieter’s whisky tasting tips, I did feel enriched. Apparently to get the ‘nose’ of a whisky you hover your nose above the rim of the glass. At this point, it was easy to pick out each character and flavour: from butterscotch and vanilla to tobacco and peat.
With Peter’s generosity, the ‘tache and I made it up the tartan ‘apples and pears’ to bed, without having damaged anything apart from our morning heads! This alone was something of a triumph!
When I first started writing for Tasting Britain, Jack told me to hold back on EVER giving a 5 star review. These should be reserved “for events that involve hallucinogens and/or group sex with the Brazilian ladies volleyball team.” So this is my first EVER. And maybe ONLY full five star. Well, I mean since the 80s, when they were a band and I owned the vinyl. True story and actual fact.
The hotel is pretty close to the artery of Devon: the A38, which connects Plymouth and Exeter. This has compelled other reviewers to mention the noise. However, this means it is situated between to the cities and on the edge of Dartmoor, giving easy access to Devon. Also the included access to your own personal iPad, a Smart TV and conversation is enough to compensate for the sound of passing traffic.
More photos of the amazing hotel can be found by visiting their website http://www.glazebrookhouse.com/
To book a room call 01355 377102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org