Hotel Endsleigh is a historic former fishing and hunting lodge set in 100 acres of magical woodland and gardens just outside the Dartmoor, England’s largest national park. In 2005, well-known English interior designer and hotelier Olga Polizzi bought and restored it with modern touches while preserving its heritage.
The property is perfect for families who like nature and quiet surroundings off the beaten track. This lovely country retreat makes for a nice stopover between Cornwall and London, or a weekend getaway of pure relaxation with kids.
The hotel has 17 rooms and suites, each individually decorated. Many have magnificent views of the gardens or the river Tamar and beyond into Cornwall. The suites can easily accommodate families and have a separate sitting area and walk-in showers.
We stayed in a suite that had French doors opening to a lovely view over the gardens. My daughters loved that they could walk right outside and do cartwheels on the beautiful lawn. Our bathroom was huge, with a clawfoot tub and a walk-in shower.
The old stable building, which was being renovated during our stay, will have seven additional suites, one of which will be a two-bedroom apartment ideal for families.
The restaurant at Hotel Endsleigh serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The decor of the dining room was quite simple but cozy, though we preferred having dinner on the lovely terrace overlooking the gardens. It was a bit chilly in the evening, but the manager brought us lap blankets and a heat lamp, which made it quite comfortable. The stars were incredible — there is absolutely no light pollution and the complete silence was such a treat. We never experience this living outside of New York City.
A very traditional afternoon tea is served daily in the library, in the parlor or outside on the terrace overlooking the gardens. For guests who want to leave the property, there is a nice pub in the town of Tavistock, about 20 minutes away.
Our favorite was relaxing in the parlor after dinner — having a drink by the fire, talking with other guests, reading a book or playing a board game. Many guests had dogs with them, which was wonderful but made us homesick for our dog.
Exploring the grounds, gardens and arboretum is a must. Simon, the head gardener, is happy to take guests on a tour, but there are so many nooks and crannies that it might be more fun to explore on your own. It rained one day during our stay, so we did as the British do: put on Wellington boots that we borrowed from the hotel and ventured out.
There is a nice, flat trail that runs alongside the Tamar River, which divides Devon and Cornwall. If the weather cooperates, I suggest having the hotel prepare a picnic to take on your walk. There are many picturesque spots to enjoy an alfresco meal.
After lunch, take a walk through the rose pergola (stunning both in flower and scent) to discover the Shell House. Have a family table tennis competition in the gardens; afterward, parents can relax on the lounge chairs with a beer from the local Dartmoor Brewery while the kids try croquet on the beautiful lawn.
Hotel Endsleigh’s location is fairly remote, so a car is a must. There are stables nearby that can accommodate all skill levels and take guests for a ride on the edge of the moor. The staff can also arrange canoeing, archery or fishing in the former duchess’ swimming pool, which is stocked with fish. Bicycles can be delivered for familes to explore the miles of off-road bike paths.
Hotel Endsleigh’s sister property, Hotel Tresanton, is an hour and a half drive away on the coast. The two offer completely different experiences but are both special in their own way.
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Editor’s Note: Sandy was provided a media rate to review the property for Ciao Bambino. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Sandy Pappas.
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