The party season – exhausting isn’t it? It barely seems a day’s gone by since we were chinking prosecco glasses at the launch of our Italy hotel guide, then there was the cocktail-swilling arty party at the launch of Scope Miami, and now we’re gearing up for our Christmas shindig tonight (the hairstylists of Chiswick have never been so busy). There’s no rest for the festive, it seems. It’s enough to make us long for a spot of cosy, countryside R&R. We know just the place…
Why this week? We’re dreaming of a Whitehouse Christmas this year, and not just because it’s one of Devon’s best boutique hotels. Throughout the month, afternoon tea at the Whitehouse is taking on an appropriately festive theme: warm mince pies (home-made, naturally), brandy butter and spicy mulled wine in front of the tree. It couldn’t be more Christmassy unless it were served by Santa himself. Oh, and the icing on the fruitcake is the fact the hotel’s offering two nights for the price of one until March, as long as you have dinner on one night (which you would do anyway, as the food is sublime).
Our favourite bits Chillington may indeed be chilly at this time of year, but when there’s a crackly log fire, and a sink-into-and-stay-there armchair to cosy up in, who cares? Throw in fabulously fresh, hearty country food (from the Aga, natch), chic urban style in a quaint coastal village setting, and a screening room with bean bags, and we’re hooked.
Mr & Mrs Smith say ‘Just a short meander from the South Devon shoreline, hidden away in the little village of Chillington, the Whitehouse is the perfect getaway for style-seasoned city types hankering for a rustic rest-stop. It is the opposite of a big, soulless corporate hotel. The people that work there are seldom enough and sufficiently sweet to make it impossible to distinguish between proprietor and employee. Its owners are in fact three friends, clearly passionate about their property, each playing a hands-on role in hotel operations, and all happy to address guests’ requirements personally.
There are only six individual rooms, and I speak only for the one we stayed in, the Attic. I assume the priorities are the same – ample space, comfortable pillow-laden beds, a showerhead comparable to the steering wheel of an articulated truck, and a colour scheme that echoes the name of the hotel. What grabbed me was the abundance of sofas and roaring fires that make every room a perfect place to kick back with a book or the Sunday papers after a coastal stroll. The headline act to this restaurateur though, is what they stick on my plate. And the White House is at its best when it adheres to my most beloved cooking philosophy – take great ingredients, and do as little as possible to mess them up. From the just-baked scones, loaded with clotted cream and local jam that were presented to us on arrival, through to the delicately salty Salcombe smokie that gave breakfast a kick, via the mussels and lobster delivered to the restaurant an hour and a half before supper – the fresh, local ingredients were always excellent.’
Read the anonymous review of Whitehouse in Devon by Hawksmoor’s Will Beckett