I bought a TravelZoo voucher and booked a night's stay with dinner to celebrate my husband's birthday. From the moment I booked the communication and customer service was faultless. I was offered a list of options, some complimentary (feather pillows, pillow spray), others for a charge. I decided against upgrading to a suite because I knew we wouldn't be spending much time in our room. In the event our room was just wonderful, overlooking the peaceful gardens at the front of the hotel. I did request a bucket of ice cold beers, and 3 bottles of local ale were waiting in our room on arrival, to my husband's delight.
As soon as our car pulled up outside the hotel entrance a young lady opened the door to greet us and to help us in with our bags. She gave us a quick tour of the public rooms, which was very helpful, then took us up to our room. We were thrilled with the room, Ashreigney, which was tastefully decorated and had lovely touches such as a bowl of apples, home made shortbread, good quality bottled water, toiletries, magazines, even a teddy bear. We also liked that our bedcovers were turned down and the towels folded onto the towel rail while we were at dinner. It all added up to feeling cared for.
Our dinner was the tasting menu, which started with canapés in the lounge, then continued at our table in the cosy restaurant with a succession of tasty dishes, beautifully presented and served by polite, friendly staff. Our aperitif wasn't included, but we enjoyed choosing from the interesting selection at the bar. Four wines were served to accompany the meal: a white, red, Prosecco and ruby port. They were generous glasses as well, so no need to order any more!
We thoroughly enjoyed the dinner. If there was one small criticism it would be that the panne cotta served as part of the dessert didn't need as much gelatine, as it was a little firm. But that didn't spoil the meal - how could it, when a chocolate brownie with clotted cream and caramelised banana was the pre-dessert?! And the pork main course was divine, really superbly cooked meat.
I had ordered a birthday cake for my husband, and had decided with the help of the staff to have it served after the meal rather than before. They brought it with our coffee, which we had in the bar. The chef had baked a lovely sponge filled with cream and strawberries and decorated with whipped cream, strawberry coulis and chocolate. I couldn't believe that I was charged only £5 for this! The chef kindly packaged the cake for us to take home with us the next day.
Breakfast is served in the oak conservatory, a modern extension, which is noisier because of the wooden floor, but which has great views over the garden. Service is fairly slow, probably because of the distance between the conservatory and kitchen, so allow enough time to relax and enjoy...and anticipate needing to request ketchup etc so that it comes when you want it, or you'll wait a little while for it to arrive. The coffee is very good, served in cafetieres, but it would be nice to be offered the equivalent in herbal tea instead of rather boring tea bags (sorry). Lovely smoked haddock with poached egg for me, and my husband loved his full English breakfast with fried bread. Nice to have very thick granary toast as well!
The weather wasn't too great while we were at the hotel or we would have loved to have explored the grounds. But we could see that this merits a return visit. The surrounding area offers many interesting places to explore, including National Trust properties (Knightshayes Court near Tiverton is simply beautiful at this time of year), Dartington Glass and the Great Western Canal, where we spent the afternoon on a horse-drawn barge.
Many thanks to all at Northcote Manor for making us so welcome and for not falling into the trap of treating people booking with a special offer as second class citizens. We received excellent attention at all times and would highly recommend this hotel to anyone seeking a relaxing stay in a peaceful location.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- 3 AA red starts, 2 AA Rosettes, AA notable wine list and 'Devon Venue' in the Westcountry Wedding Awards. Northcote manor is a cherished Country House Hotel set in the foothills of Exmoor National Park, Enjoy sweeping views over the Taw Valley, sundowners on the sun terrace and cream teas on the lawn or in front of crackling log fires. The perfect wedding venue or conference. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Northcote Manor Umberleigh
- Northcote Manor Hotel Umberleigh
- Northcote Manor Country House Hotel Devon/Burrington