By Imogen Cox, Digital Marketing Executive

Our resident foodie, Imogen, spent a long birthday weekend eating her way around sunny Devon, where produce – from both land and sea – doesn’t get much fresher. Along the way, she stayed in a few of our favourite boutique B&Bs, from a striking architectural gem to a grand country house. If you want to taste the best of Devon, this is where to go.

Every once in a while, it’s refreshing to head out of the city in search of some salty sea air. We had planned a whistle-stop tour of south Devon, sampling a selection of boutique B&Bs I’d been eyeing up for a while. As it was my birthday, the trip was centred around two of my favourite things: food and the sea. We followed the recommendations of our hosts along the way, who were clearly fellow foodies and gave us a real insider feel for the area.

Stop 1: Weeke Barton

Our first stop was Weeke Barton, on the edge of Dartmoor. We were a little early, so when we saw a sign for neighbouring Swanaford Vineyard we decided to pop in and have a nosy around. It turned out to be a very happy accident as the owners were friends of Jo and Sam from Weeke Barton. We had a glass of English sparkling and walked around their charming vineyard.

We then arrived at Weeke Barton, met by the smell of freshly cut grass, and Jo gave us a quick tour of the place. The lounge area felt very relaxed, with a great selection of OS maps, games and books. The honesty bar was dinky and cosy, with very low ceilings and beams – tall guests take note! The dining room had a mix of tables for 2 and 4, which were assigned to you based on your room number and were yours for the duration of your stay. Here we met their two friendly spaniels, who also greeted us outside our bedroom door in the morning for belly rubs.

We were staying in Kota, their newest room, which was a lockdown project. It’s a self-contained unit that sits in the garden in front of the main house. The room was very quirky, with wonky walls that Sam had laboriously plastered during lockdown. There was a kingsize bed, a wood-burning stove with two armchairs, and a fab bathroom area.

Kota doesn’t have a TV in the room, but it does have a projector with a pull-down screen above the bed, which we found novel and great fun. The WiFi didn’t reach us in Kota, so it’s best to download anything you want to watch beforehand. The thing I loved most was the bathroom: very stylish, with a freestanding tub, a giant ornate mirror, gorgeous local toiletries, and a separate shower and toilet room. There was even a disco ball hanging above the bathtub – very apt for a birthday bathe!

Food-wise, Jo offers a seasonally changing menu each evening, using produce from a local community co-operative. Steak & stilton pies were on offer during our stay. But I fancied a bit of glam for my birthday, so we headed out to an amazing restaurant called Emilia in Ashburton, one of many recommendations from Jo and Sam – who were as big into food as me and my (ex-chef) partner. Before heading out for dinner, we sat in the garden and had a G&T, which was so relaxing and serene; the gardens really are lovely and very well kept.

Breakfast was great. Their contactless ordering system involves texting Jo your order 15 mins before you’re ready to eat, which we found a very smooth operation. We arrived at the dining room to find our coffee and juice order, and breakfast shortly followed. I had smoked salmon and eggs, and Max had the full herd (full English) – both were accompanied by toast which came out in a nifty bag to keep it warm. The juice was from a local supplier, as was most of the breakfast. It was all lovely and not too large of a portion. Weeke Barton also offers whole house rentals, and throughout our stay, I was thinking how fabulous it would be to have the space to ourselves for a getaway with friends or family.

Rooms from £190 per night.

Stop 2: Kaywana Hall

Our final port of call was Kaywana Hall, near Dartmouth. On the way over we drove past Slapton Sands and stopped off at Blackpool Sands, determined to enjoy the beach despite the rain. We were pleasantly surprised to find a beach sauna, and thought, why not? So we paid for an hour’s use of this quirky hut in the middle of the beach, running from there to the sea and then alternating every 10 mins or so – very Wim Hof meets Devonshire beach!

Arriving at Kaywana, I was struck by how different the place felt from how it looked in the pictures. I was expecting it to feel slightly cold and almost too architectural, but it was quite the opposite, with the perfect mix of soft curves, angular glass edges, and pops of colour, all of which were surrounded by a cloud of lush and vivid greenery. It really did feel like you were tucked away in a sanctuary of woodland bliss, despite being just off a relatively busy road.

Every room felt private and separate, with winding steps and cleverly used bamboo hedges as dividers, and each room’s little terrace gave a nice breakaway space from the communal pool area. Our room, Oak, was lovely, scented with a fragrance of orange, geranium and spearmint. There were yummy extras (homemade shortbread, fudge, jelly beans, fresh milk and a Nespresso machine) and thoughtful reading materials, including a guide to the local area, plenty of fiction, local maps and recommended walks. I loved that they had two different firmnesses of pillows in the room and a good selection of toiletries, including bath salts.

Owners Tony & Gordon were wonderful and very friendly. It seemed they were on hand instantly when you needed them but never in the way when you didn’t. It felt as though we were staying with family friends (but in a nicer way as we got some space and time to ourselves!). They provide an app for guests with a weather report and useful info about the local area. You get a hard copy of this, too, which was useful as my mobile signal was patchy and the WiFi struggled when lots of people were using it.

The poolside area was wonderful. A heated outdoor pool is a real luxury for a UK B&B, and it felt so peaceful reading my book after a swim. The sounds of birdsong and crickets were the background hum throughout our stay, and there were butterflies everywhere – lovely! There’s a firepit for the cooler months, and in the pool house, you can help yourself to soft drinks, chocolate bars, coffee, teas and freshly baked goods.

We nipped down to Kingswear, a short but steep 10-minute walk, and got the ferry over to Dartmouth, with a pre-loaded card from Kaywana offering discounted journeys for guests (avoids the need for carrying cash). We had fish & chips from Rockfish and bought a bottle of wine to take back and enjoy on our terrace, where we watched the sunset. Then we sunk into one of the comfiest beds I’ve slept in, and drifted off to the gentle sound of swaying trees.

Breakfast was great, a very casual affair with Tony & Gordon seamlessly gliding around the open-plan kitchen and chatting to guests. Their homemade granola was gorgeous, and my full English was all just as it should be, with 90% of produce coming from within a 5-mile radius of the house. The pool house is the venue for breakfast, and looking out onto the pool with blue skies above was a fab way to round off our stay.

Rooms from £288 per night.

Stop 3: Whitehouse

After breakfast, we drove down to Salcombe and had crab sandwiches at The Crab Shed, followed by a wander around the town, and then a swim at East Portlemouth beach. We then headed up to Whitehouse, which we found pretty easily despite warnings it was tricky to find. We went inside and met Chris, who showed us around the communal areas. It was all very well done, with lovely pops of colour throughout yet the whole place had a very calming air about it.

Our room, number 5, was obscenely large – in the best way possible. The bed was emperor-sized and looked comically big. I had never seen anything like it! The bathroom was gorgeous with a slate-cladded bathtub, his-and-hers sinks and a large walk-in shower. The REN toiletries were a pampering touch. The room had the same serene feel as downstairs, and I loved the gorgeous view out onto the gardens. I really felt relaxed here.

After getting settled, I was keen to get out into the garden to soak up the sunshine. I bumped into a lady who I overheard getting a rosé wine from the honesty bar, and I decided that sounded like a great idea! We got chatting: she was a returning guest and was bigging up Chris and Katie’s hospitality, saying nothing was too much trouble and that it felt pampering to be there. The garden was lovely, a real oasis, with beautiful plants around and a nice level of privacy, with little nooks that different guests could enjoy without feeling on top of one another.

There’s no dinner offering at Whitehouse (though they do offer charcuterie boards upon request), and not many restaurants within walking distance. So, based on another recommendation from Jo & Sam from Weeke Barton, we trekked to Riverford Field Kitchen, which was a great experience and worth the drive. They do one sitting, and all the produce is grown on-site. We arrived a little early and had a snoop around the fields and the greenhouse, then took our seats in the garden. It’s a set menu that changes regularly – a sort of ‘get what you’re given’ concept. It was all very fresh and good value. We finished the evening with a nightcap from the honesty bar at Whitehouse, then slept very well in the gigantic bed!

In the morning, we headed down for breakfast and met Katie, Chris’s partner, who was charming, friendly and warm. We had coffee and juice waiting for us and then were given the breakfast menu, which was more of a have-as-many-courses-as-you-want affair than a pick-one situation. We started with homemade bircher muesli topped with a plum compote, and homemade granola topped with fresh berries – all delicious and a treat to be offered before a cooked breakfast. Max then opted for a full English; I had avocado and fried eggs on toast. They also brought out freshly baked croissants with homemade jam (also scrummy). What a feast! We left feeling stuffed and very well looked after.

Before leaving, we had a peek at two of the other rooms (plus the children’s bunk room). All were lovely and very different from one another, though I must say I felt very smug about being allocated room 5, as it really was something special.

I really enjoyed my stay at Whitehouse. It felt very casual and calm, and Chris and Katie were so generous. I could tell this extended beyond us to paying guests too – I clocked Katie wrapping up half of the cake, which was labelled ‘help yourself’ on the check-in desk, and giving it to one of her guests to take home. I’d happily return.

Sadly Whitehouse has now closed. See our recommendations of other places to stay nearby below.

More places to stay in Devon

  • Hotel Endsleigh is an elegant country retreat set in 108 acres of fairy-tale parkland overlooking the winding River Tamar on the Devon-Cornwall border. Rooms from £288.
  •  Stargaze from your bed while enjoying woodland seclusion and stunning views at StarBed Hideaways, the ultimate romantic glamping escape. Shepherds’ huts from £184.