Three snuffling pigs trot as much as their fence to welcome me at Glebe House.
I must be gazing out over the rolling East Devon hills, admiring the tulips on the estate or gasping on the perfectly-clipped croquet lawn, however the pigs win my attention.
I spend more time than I’d wish to admit cooing over them of their woodland pen, but something tells me they aren’t kept as pets.
Lucy Lovell checks into Glebe House, which sits in a picturesque corner of East Devon. She says that checking in is ‘more like being welcomed into the house of a long-lost member of the family than checking right into a hotel’
Lucy visits the brand new food-led enterprise for a taste of East Devon’s food and drinks renaissance
The guest house is understood for making the whole lot from scratch for its 30-seater restaurant. Today, a four-course Sunday lunch awaits – and pork is on the menu.
Inside there’s a more formal welcome. Not less than, as formal because it gets at Glebe House, nestled within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
In a relaxed entrance room at the center of the home, muddy wellingtons sit on antique boot racks, wildflowers gather in mismatched vases and busy chefs bid a cheery ‘hello’.
An iPad tucked under the steps is the one clue that that is the reception. Other than that, it’s more like being welcomed into the house of a long-lost member of the family than checking right into a hotel.
The guest house is understood for making the whole lot from scratch for its 30-seater restaurant, and the smallholding includes three pigs within the neighbouring woods
Front-of-house staff – who’ve the knack of being each ‘on the ball’ and ‘totally relaxed’ – swoop over to greet and seat me.
Tables are dotted throughout the property, and I’m sitting where the motion is: on a chunky kitchen table overlooking the pass, along with my dining partner and one other relatively excited-looking couple. Glebe House has a fame that precedes it, in spite of everything.
The late-Georgian manor has been run as a B&B for the reason that 80s, led by current owner Hugo Guest’s parents. When talk began of selling the estate, Hugo and his partner, Olive, decided that something have to be done.
Hugo grew up here, and in March 2020 – an infamously difficult yr for hospitality – the London-based couple decided to jack of their jobs and move to the country with their three-month-old baby to save lots of the family home.
Inspired by the Italian agriturismo model, and armed with brilliant paint and lots of wallpaper, the couple accomplished a shocking refit of the property. The result’s a fresh tackle a British B&B, and since its launch in 2021 Glebe House has made waves on this sleepy corner of Devon.
Glebe Home is run by Hugo and Olive Guest, who were inspired by the Italian agriturismo model
Lucy describes the guest house as a ‘fresh tackle a British B&B’. Pictured on the left is The Tulip Room, with French antique double bed and Ottoline de Vries tulip wallpaper. The appropriate shows more interior mastery, with a peek inside certainly one of the five bedrooms
Antique silverware clatters because it’s set around us, and we crack open our first crisp cider. There’s only one on the menu, sadly, and it’s from Dorset. No offence Dorset, but just a few more Devonshire scrumpy options would go down brilliantly here.
Meanwhile, head chef Sam Lomas – Great British Menu finalist and graduate of the River Cottage Chefs’ School – is happily pottering around in front of an enormous red Aga. He’s accompanied by an equally jovial Hugo.
Their carefree air gives nothing away of the exquisite dishes we’re about to enjoy.
Bam: an ideal example of porridge sourdough. Boom: homemade charcuterie. We’re hit with entrees that make us realise: these chefs are serious.
Head chef Sam Lomas is a former Great British Menu finalist and graduate of the River Cottage Chefs’ School. The restaurant’s seating is found throughout the bottom floor. On the left is the principal dining room with views over the Devonshire hills, while the appropriate image shows the light-filled morning room
Once I ask the waitress where the pork got here from for the salami, she winces. I assume I’m not the just one adjusting to country life.
Next up, a wild garlic tagliatelle tastes like woodland walks, while grilled asparagus is served with an imaginative roasted pumpkin seed and boiled egg dip.
Porchetta is the principal event, served with cannellini beans and salsa verde. The butter-soft meat is slow-cooked overnight before being blasted in a hot oven to send the crackling into overdrive.
A fellow guest tells Lucy that ‘Devon is a foodie destination now’ and that he’s ‘amazed by the explosion in good food he’s seen previously five years’
It’s paired with a glass of Delmoro by La Comarcal – an enormous, bolshy Valencian red that squares as much as the salsa.
After we’re not engrossed by the food, the parents next to us give us just a little insight into East Devon’s food renaissance.
‘Devon is a foodie destination now,’ the local resident for over 25 years leans across the table to inform me – and I’m inclined to agree. He’s amazed by the explosion in good food he’s seen previously five years, he says.
He raises his eyebrows, looking around on the decor that made this hotel an overnight Instagram hit (16,000 followers and counting), adding: ‘But this one is a little more… “hip hop”.’
‘Armed with brilliant paint and lots of wallpaper, [owners Hugo and Olive] accomplished a shocking refit of the property,’ Lucy writes. Pictured here is the hotel’s sitting room, which Lucy describes as a ‘maximalist’s dream’
After lunch we’re shown to our rooms, and I get a likelihood to snoop around those Insta-famous interiors.
The sitting room is a maximalist’s dream, painted in dusty peach and furnished with a luxurious mustard sofa and sapphire-blue armchairs with William Morris-style print cushions.
My room, with views over the valley, is a bucolic den of embroidery, floral headboards and patterned throws. The lavatory is just as lovely: a flowery refuge of sunshine pinks, shiny brass finishes and a roll-top bath that guarantees some seriously relaxing soaks.
And while Hugo and Olive probably wouldn’t like me moving into my quarters permanently (comprehensible), perhaps they’d be happy with me organising home within the gorgeous downstairs loo, which has cute strawberry-patterned wallpaper, bunches of wildflowers and a marble-top sink with a ruffled gold fabric trim.
Peek contained in the downstairs loo for ‘cute strawberry-patterned wallpaper, bunches of wildflowers and a marble-top sink with a ruffled gold fabric trim’, Lucy advises
The room where Lucy stays (pictured above) is a ‘bucolic den of embroidery, floral headboards and patterned throws’
Because of Olive – a longtime artist in her own right – feisty, fun art underpins the Glebe House experience. Throughout the home there are artworks by genuinely exciting artists. Some are on the market, some the owners can’t bear to part with.
After exploring the home and testing out the croquet set, it’s time to eat… again. Thankfully, dinner is a straightforward affair: a collection of cold cuts and cheese served with a hunk of that joyous homemade bread, pickled raisins and fruit.
The evening is spent reading poetry from the library, soaking in the bathtub, and wondering whether I should pack all of it in and move to the country.
‘The evening is spent reading poetry from the library, soaking in the bathtub, and wondering whether I should pack all of it in and move to the country,’ Lucy concludes, adding: ‘By the top, I’ve fallen so hard for the home – and for the idealised slice of country life that it presents – that my partner has to practically drag me out of the dining room’
Front-of-house staff have the knack of being each ‘on the ball’ and ‘totally relaxed’, reveals Lucy
But before I can put my house in the marketplace, it’s time to depart. There’s barely enough time for yet one more food odyssey: breakfast. Stewed fruit and yoghurt with fresh apple juice and low are followed by a thick wedge of bacon, crispy fried eggs and homemade brown sauce.
By the top, I’ve fallen so hard for the home – and for the idealised slice of country life that it presents – that my partner has to practically drag me out of the dining room.
On my method to the automobile, I bid a tragic farewell to the pigs and ponder whether I’ll see them again – and in what form.
Poor pigs. Possibly I’m not cut out for the great life, in spite of everything. For now, an evening at Glebe Home is good enough.
Glebe House, Southleigh, EX24 6SD. Rooms cost from £165 per night. For more information visit glebehousedevon.co.uk.
PROS: A genuinely warm welcome, excellent food and blissfully tranquil surroundings.
CONS: It’s out within the sticks, so you’ll have a automobile to get there. More local beers and ciders could be an incredible addition, too.