Craig takes a mini break in Devon at Glazebrook House, one of its most luxurious and quirky boutique Hotels.
Sometimes things in life happen for a reason. Often those reasons are unknown to us, and the journey there is beyond our control. We call it fate.
Hearing the story of how Glazebrook House Hotel turned from a tired country hotel, on it’s knees, in need of love and a new spirit to elevate it to the stunning boutique Hotel it is today is truly magical.
“Do you believe in fate?” I asked owner Pieter Hamman. “Yes” he replied, without hesitation. And it’s clear after talking to him why. People may think that Pieter chose Glazebrook House. No. Glazebrook House chose Pieter. He had absolutely no say in the matter, and it was always meant to be.
How Glazebrook house came to be
The original farmhouse, built in 1650 stood for over 200 years before being transformed into the manor house you see today. Privately owned, it later became a country Hotel. When Pieter made the decision to leave San Francisco and move to the UK he decided that he wanted a Hotel. Did he have any experience in the hotel industry? No, absolutely not. Was this the first indication that things were happening beyond his control?
Set deep in the countryside surrounded by a labyrinth of narrow winding roads and ancient twisted trees, Glazebrook House Hotel is an enchanted place, steeped in history and decorated by the incredible multi award winning Timothy Oulton.
Timothy’s unique style intensifies Glazebrook House’s incredibly distinctive ambience. Pieter told me that he and Architect Simon Laws of Anthill Constructions “wanted to make a statement and do something different”. Objective achieved.
The project to transform this delightful building into the marvellously eclectic space it is today took just 6 months. Pieter moved into the old servants quarters, Simon joined him for a couple of days and then walls were removed, long forgotten gems were being rediscovered and original cornice was once again introduced to daylight.
When Pieter bought the Hotel it had 12 bedrooms. After consulting with Simon and getting a ‘feel’ for the place, they decided to reduce this to 9. Shortly after this decision was made Pieter pulled down some stud walling only to discoverer the original servants bells. Can you guess how many bedroom bells there were, hiding and covered in years of dust? Yes, 9. Coincidence? I don’t think so!
The search for the right theme
With the hotel near to completion Pieter was wracking his brain for a theme for the bedrooms but nothing seemed to fit. Ideas came and went, but Pieter knew that when the right theme presented itself he’d know.
It was soon after that, during a visit to the Hotel, Pieter was discussing his frustration at a lack of a theme with his son. It was then that his son reminded him of a statement that Pieter’s wife Fran made during her first visit while she was walking the grounds “I feel just like Alice in Wonderland” she’d exclaimed. Immediately Pieter knew this was the theme that he needed to adopt. Timothy Oulton thought this was a wonderful idea, and so the Mad Hatter room, White Rabbit, Jabberwocky and The Cheshire Cat rooms were born, among others.
Hotel complete, it was time for the opening party. A date was set and Pieter shared his dream with guests and loved ones. During this event Pieter was asked why he chose that particular date. When he responded that he chose it at random he was told that it was the same date as Lewis Carroll’s birthday. Still think all this is coincidental?
If that wasn’t enough, a short time later Pieter held a mad hatters tea party at the Hotel to raise money for charity. During a successful party Pieter was made aware that he was holding the party on the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland. Not only that, but the same year was the 150th anniversary of Glazebrook House!
Our stay at Glazebrook House
We arrived at Glazebrook House on a sunny Tuesday evening and were immediately greeted by the super friendly staff. “Wow” is all I could say as I entered the main entrance hall. As I sat at a desk made from an old aircraft wing I signed the necessary paperwork and was given the key to the Mad Hatter room.
With a super comfy king size bed, enormous bathroom, and pre-programmed mood lighting we were very pleased with it. Made for two, the bathroom has a deep double ended bath and a walk in rain shower. All the better for getting reacquainted one feels.
Then it was time for dinner. Glazebrook House is as well known for its restaurant, and with a MasterChef finalist in the kitchen you know that the food is going to be first rate, and it rivalled anything I had ever eaten before.
When you visit, do try the 5 course taster menu. We took ours with the Wine Flight, where each course is perfectly matched with a complimentary wine.
Starting with the Burrata: a combination of macerated tomatoes, summer herbs and truffle, our host Oliver charged our glasses and introduced us to an Austrian white. Both dish and glass were a delight.
After this came the slow cooked Kennedon duck egg yolk and a German wine, before we enjoyed pan fried stone bass and a South African Viognier.
A lamb rump with spiced aubergine, feta and broccoli followed with a feisty Spanish Rioja. Beautifully cooked and presented, both were promptly dispatched.
Desert came in the form of a chocolate Parfait. With mascarpone, orange curd and caramelised orange it was welcome finish to a fine meal.
If we fancied, we could also add a cheese course but we were wonderfully full, and as much as I love cheese it would certainly have tipped me over the edge of the rabbit hole. However Toby took us on a tour of the cheese trolley. What he doesn’t know about these cheeses isn’t worth knowing, and it almost did tempt me! With a good Stinking Bishop, local Brie, Stilton and Goats cheeses among the mix I regretted eating so much earlier.
I can highly recommend Glazebrook House Hotel. With 50 weddings under its belt it’s the perfect venue. Parties are also very popular and the Glazebrook team see a lot of them.
The entire place can be privately rented to include all rooms, staff and food, so if you or someone you know has a special event coming up, take a look at Glazebrook House as it has so many things to offer. I don’t just mean the stunning decor, the beautiful surrounding and the incredible food, but the staff too who are all a credit to the Hotel. Maybe its Pieter’s never ending passion and enthusiasm which has rubbed off on them or maybe Glazebrook House itself chose the perfect people to work its rooms, just in the same way that it chose Pieter as it’s owner.