“Stunning hotel and restaurant in the east Devon countryside. Imaginative food, incredible style”
Formerly Combe House, this is the latest brainchild from Robin Hutson, joining The Pig and The Pig near Bath, 2 of our favourite hotels. As with those, each revamp detail here was dreamt up by Judy, Robin's wife - antique furniture sourced from French brocantes, paired with rose-red sofas and muted hues of sage and grey. Though there are trademark Pig details (vintage crockery on bare wood tables in the conservatory-feel restaurant; an incredible kitchen garden, whose produce drives the daily menu), nothing has been duplicated exactly; everything is original and extraordinary. As for the setting, it's as beautiful as could be. Arabian horses gallop around the surrounding fields, which unfold into 3,500 acres of fresh green Devon countryside. Pure rejuvenation for the soul.
- The ambience: calm slips over you the moment you arrive
- Superb gastro food: pollock lollipops with salsa verde, glazed Featherblade steak, then a gin jelly softened by cucumber sorbet - we wished we'd stayed another night to sample more of the breakfast menu, too
- The bar team really knows its stuff; the whisky sommelier couldn't have been more useful
- Bikes and Hunter wellies for exploring the countryside - or drive to beaches and historic towns
- Clever pricing, which offers something for everyone. There are luxury Hideaways and champagne cocktails, or Cheap & Cheerful rooms and a garden pizzeria
- Super popular so you'll need to book well in advance (2-3 months for weekends) and there's a 2-night min stay over a Fri and Sat
- Breakfast is only included in the dinner, bed and breakfast rate
- Other restaurants are a drive away
- No swimming pool, the icing on the cake (do I sound spoilt?)
Best time to go
Our top tips
The local village Gittisham is enchanting, dating back further than the Doomsday book, with a Norman church, original lynch gate and ancient burial mounds. Its 85 dwellings are mostly thatched, with tiny windows and cob walls.”
- Boutique Hotel
- 27 rooms and 3 cottages
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
The 27 rooms are some of the most beautiful we've seen, with painstaking attention to detail. Those at the front have vast mullioned windows framing countryside views; the Big Comfy Luxe was one such room and perfectly named. The four-poster bed was deeply comfortable; the metro-tiled monsoon shower offered an ideal level of pummelling; and I loved lazing in the roll-top bath, watching the sunset and trying the fragrant Bramley products.
On our last visit, the Chicken Run Cottage (1 of 3 cottages tucked away off-site) offered an enviable amount of sleeping space with stunning en-suites for its 2 bedrooms. The kitchen and living room were a retreat from the main hotel's main restaurant and bar, allowing for lazy breakfasts at our own pace. Although it's only a 10-minute walk through beautiful meadows to get to the main house, the on-demand Land Rover transfers were really useful after a drink with dinner.
Regardless of size, all rooms have the same treats: Nespressos, fresh milk, Roberts radios, waffle dressing gowns, magazines (Stylist and Private Eye - a welcome change from the usual suspects). Hidden larders house posh popcorn and local ales.
If price is no object, the Hideaways are gorgeous: Laundry, with an oversized round copper bathtub and antique drying rack; Horsebox, a brilliantly conceived restoration of 'stalls' into little areas (bedroom, double sink area, lounge and so on). If you're here on a budget, the Cheap & Cheerful and Snug rooms offer great value for money.
- Central heating
- Coffee / tea making
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Satellite TV
The kitchen gardens with their Victorian greenhouses are the heart of the hotel, tended by 5 full-time gardeners. Menus are driven by what's perfect for plucking, and this commitment shines through everything you eat.
The informal Garden Restaurant is flooded with light and interesting detail: taxidermy butterfly collections, Kilner jars of colourful plant infusions, terracotta pots bursting with fragrant herbs. You can also dine on the terrace, looking over the valley.
Our dinner was full of flavour. Edible flowers added beauty to each plate, and even bread was elevated to the special, baked in house and served with sage-infused olive oil and sea salt. The leek, spinach and pine nut risotto was deliciously fresh. The stone bass faced stiff competition on the menu, but even while looking longingly at the other diners’ mains, we weren't left disappointed. It was some of the freshest fish we'd ever eaten. The sides deserve some praise, too, with even simple boiled potatoes oozing a rich earthiness.
The desserts equally blew us away: a tasting platter of lemon-balm strawberries, honey and lavender set cream with raspberry sorbet, a triple-mint chocolate tart and gin jelly with orange sorbet, all paired with dessert wines. The sommeliers couldn't be more helpful, or the wines more delicious.
With its constantly evolving seasonal menu, it's almost disappointing knowing you won’t order the same thing twice, even if you keep coming back time after time.
Breakfast was equally imaginative, the buffet including orange honey, plum compote to adorn creamy yoghurt, and poached pears with a hint of ginger. We loved our avocado and poached eggs on sourdough, and sneaked out granola squares for the drive home. If you just want something simple (a bacon sandwich, pastries, eggs on toast), there's a 'Smaller' menu.
Don't miss the Garden Folly for flatbread lunches or an easy pizza supper; a semi-restored old folly (derelict chic!) with a wood-fired oven and indoor/outdoor bar.
The teams at breakfast and dinner were equally clued up on dietary requirements - the kitchen was able to make changes easily as everything is cooked fresh (gluten-free bread with our evening meal and a whole host of coeliac-friendly dishes made for stress-free dining).
Look closely at your menu and you'll find that The Pig lists its regular produce suppliers that support its 25 mile ethos. From preserves to cider, there's a little history to lose yourself in at the table (and a rather delightfully illustrated map, too). The 25 mile menu sources an impressive 80% of its ingredients either from the kitchen garden itself or this gaggle of local, grassroots businesses.
- Children's meals
- Coffee / tea making
- Coffee maker
- Organic produce
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Borrow a pair of Hunters to explore the estate: discover the lost arboretum, follow the River Gitt, and enjoy sea mists rolling through the valley
- Treat yourself to sheer indulgence in the Potting Shed spa rooms. Opt for a jade hot and cold stone treatment; essential oil, deep tissue, shiatsu, Swedish and facial massages; or bespoke facials with tailormade elixirs (choose from Restore, Awaken or Purity)
- Further afield, find fossils on the Jurassic Coast and visit The Cobb at Lyme Regis (a dramatic sea wall featured in The French Lieutenant’s Woman)
- There are brilliant beaches 30 minutes away, including Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth and family-friendly Dawlish Warren. Most have watersports on offer
- Dartmoor is one of England’s most hauntingly beautiful landscapes; take hiking boots and ask reception to recommend a walking route with a pub for lunch
- There are 9 golf courses close by; the hotel can arrange fishing trips and horse riding, too
- The fishing village of Beer has pretty arts and crafts shops, and a number of quaint cafés
- Visit Topsham for Dart's Farm Shop, full of delicious local produce
- Historic Exeter is 25 minutes away; we love its Gothic cathedral and 900-year-old priory (St Nicholas) with Tudor interiors
- Back at Combe, take time to wander around the remarkable kitchen gardens, through mature orchards and Victorian greenhouses, and past the quail run (just for producing eggs)
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Museums / galleries
- Plantlife / flora
- Shopping / markets
- Well being
Families are welcome and though there are no special facilities for kids, they will enjoy roaming the estate. The atmosphere is very relaxed.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
The family suites each have 2 bedrooms (1 kingsize, 1 with bunkbeds), 2 bathrooms (1 shower, 1 tub) and space for a baby cot. The 3 cottages - a short drive or walk from the hotel - also each have 2 bedrooms (1 master double, 1 double/twin), as well as 2 bathrooms and a handy kitchenette. All other rooms, except the Cheap & Cheerful and Snug categories, can fit a baby cot or rollaway bed.
- Baby cots
- High chairs
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
A kids' menu (sausage and mash, free-range chicken and chips, apple jelly and ice cream), plus pizzas in the Garden Folly
Kids Activities on site:
A big swing in the garden and bikes to borrow
Kids Activities nearby:
Beaches and historic towns
Families Should Know:
Baby monitors probably won't reach from your room to the restaurant
- Airport: 25-minute drive (Exeter)
- Hospital: 25-minute drive (Exeter)
- Shops: 5-minute drive (Honiton)
The Pig at Combe is on the edge of the picturesque village of Gittisham, 5 minutes’ drive from Honiton, in south Devon.
Fly into Exeter (20km / 12 miles), Bristol (92km / 57 miles) or London Heathrow (238km / 148 miles). Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.
The hotel is near the M5, making the journey relatively easy. We recommend bringing your own vehicle or hiring a car in order to explore the surrounding countryside.
There is a direct line from London Waterloo to Honiton, and then it's a 5-minute taxi ride to The Pig at Combe. From Heathrow, connect at London Paddington to Tiverton Parkway. From the Eurostar at St Pancras, take the underground to London Paddington or Waterloo. See Seat 61 for more details.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to the UK and getting around
- Exeter 20.0 km EXE
- Bristol 92.0 km BRS
- Beach 20.0 km
- Shops 3.0 km
- Restaurant 3.0 km