Orestone Manor hotel and restaurant on the edge of Maidencombe was previously the home of John Calcott Horsley, the artist commissioned in 1840 to design the very first Christmas card. Sitting in the manor’s cosy lounge with its impressive open fire, it’s easy to imagine Christmases past, such is the comfortable, homely setting. Festive links aside, this family-run two-AA-rosette-awarded country house is set in tropical gardens and has breathtaking sea views.
For dining, there is a relaxed conservatory area with panoramic views over the gardens to the sea, and also a main restaurant area, with tables bedecked with fresh white linen and dazzling cutlery. Our host and manager, Craig, made us feel most welcome and promptly arrived at our table to take our drinks order. The food we chose was faultless; starters of crab and prawn cocktail, and tomato and mozzarella salad with hazelnut pesto were bright and refreshing, while our main dishes of sea trout partnered with asparagus and doused in Hollandaise sauce, and duo of lamb accompanied by spinach, wild mushrooms and lamb jus were beautifully presented and cooked to perfection. Afterwards, we treated ourselves to an assiette of miniature desserts that consisted of lemon tart, Pavlova and homemade blackcurrant ice cream, and a cheeseboard of vintage organic Cheddar, Cornish Yarg and Sharpham Brie with biscuits, fresh fruit and chutney.
All produce is locally sourced, fruit and vegetables are picked from Orestone’s own garden, and there are plenty of vegetarian options available. Well-matched with the food menu is an extensive wine list featuring a white Sharpham Dart Valley Reserve and a full-bodied Mas Des Lauriers Coteaux de Narbonne, to name just two. There is also afternoon tea available, which can be taken on the terrace.
The hotel has 14 luxurious rooms and suites, all unique in character, and most with calming sea views. Several have private hot tubs and balconies or terraces. Orestone Manor also hosts a number of special themed dining evenings – check the website for details.
With Torquay just a few minutes’ drive away and Exeter, Plymouth and Dartmoor just a short jaunt, theatre, shopping and many other attractions are easily accessible from this charming enclave.