Upcott Farm

near Braunton, Devon, United Kingdom Book from

Two contemporary yet comfy barn conversions, hidden on an idyllic farm near the beaches of North Devon (each sleeps 2-6)
“Oh, look, rabbits!” I follow my friend’s gaze through the arched, glass kitchen doors to our pebbled courtyard, where 2 wild bunnies are frolicking amongst the lavender and rosemary beds. It’s breakfast time - strawberries and croissants from the nearby village - and we’re growing accustomed to the idyllic sights and sounds of Upcott Farm. Our cottage borders a little stream in a meadow; last night we heard nothing but the gentle bleating of sheep in the valley, and today the farm’s kitchen garden is ripe for exploring.

A charming North Devon setting such as this can make any accommodation appealing, but what elevates Upcott Farm’s converted barns to outstanding is their design. With interiors so cool they appeared in The White Company’s spring 2013 collection, this is no ordinary rural retreat. Owners Ben and Sarah Lambert have curated a stunning combination of white walls, muted grey furnishings and polished concrete floors, cleverly avoiding the 'cold museum' look with luxurious texture combinations and a shrewd appreciation for high-quality pieces. We arrived to find Sarah’s homemade lemon cake and fresh peonies waiting on the table, the underfloor heating already on, and a corner sofa inviting us to sink in. We were happy to comply.

Highs

  • We couldn't have wished for a more inviting home- from-home, and despite being in close proximity, both cottages are remarkably private
  • Families will love it here. There are outdoor games, toy boxes and baby cots, plus heaps of safe outside space to explore. You're an easy drive from beaches
  • Great value for a group: Calfshed sleeps 4 and Lambshed sleeps 6, both feel spacious
  • Ben and Sarah live on-site and are there if you need them (they were immensely helpful when our car broke down!). Ben grew up in the area and is a mine of local information
  • North Devon is brilliant: you can surf at Croyde Bay, ramble through Exmoor National Park, and take a boat trip to Lundy Island to see puffins

Lows

  • A car is essential and you'll need to drive down some seriously narrow country lanes
  • No meals are provided. Instead, you get a well-equipped kitchen and there are shops in Braunton and local pubs a short drive away
  • Sound travels and light pours into the bedrooms through lofty skylights - there are blinds in your dresser drawer
  • A 3/4-night minimum stay, and 7-night minimum in High, Peak and Half Term seasons
  • Each bedroom has a chest of drawers and some hanging space, but there’s no wardrobe storage

Best time to go

This is a fantastic place to enjoy Britain's dramatic seasons. Spend sunny days on the beach, spot bluebells and snowdrops in spring, or come for a cosy break during the winter months - thanks to underfloor heating and woodburners you'll be snug. This would be a very special place to celebrate Christmas, New Year or even Easter.

Our top tips

On Friday and Saturday nights, a little hut sells Sri Lankan curries on Barracaine beach. Bring a blanket and some wine; they'll dish up on china plates and bring it to you.

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 2 cottages, sleeping 2-6
  • Self-catering (restaurants a drive away)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 22 Dec 2017 - 26 Dec 2017
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Laundry Service
  • Washing machine & dryer
  • Books
  • Games & toys
Room:

Rooms

Cast aside your expectations of what rural living should look like; this is country charm for the 21st century. Polished concrete floors run the length of the ground floors, mimicking the barns’ functional beginnings, while neutral white walls reflect light, enhancing a simple layout loyal to the barns' history. If this is all sounds a little too stark, worry not. Soft woven rugs compartmentalise the spaces, woollen blankets dress the beds, and underfloor heating warms every room. Ben masterminded the technology in the cottages, choosing individual temperature controls for each room, high-spec gadgets for the kitchen and Original BTC lights above the dining tables. Just don’t expect phones or flawless WiFi, people come here to escape all that business.

We stayed in Calfshed (sleeps 4), and loved the quartet of glass archways along the beautiful open-plan kitchen-diner, which floods the interiors with light. There's also a cosier raised living space with sofas and a wood-burner. Upstairs, 2 large ensuite bedrooms are dressed with organic super-kingsize beds, White Company linens, neutral drapes and smooth wood floorboards. The master has a shower room and a large square window where the original hay door would have been. The second has a bathtub with overhead shower and can be made up as a twin, with a wooden chest hiding Lego and toys for smaller guests.

The Lambshed (sleeps 6) is of a similar ilk but on a larger scale (and a bit darker inside). You get 3 ensuite bedrooms and a large kitchen leading into a vast single-story living space. The dining table seats 10, there’s an enormous corner sofa facing the woodburner. Every bedroom could be the master, but one is particularly lovely (though it lacks a bathtub to accompany the ensuite shower). The second can convert into a twin, and the third sits on the ground floor with direct access to the barn’s private courtyard.

All the monochrome bathrooms have heated towel rails, thick bath sheets and Somerset-made Bramley handwash; bring your own shower toiletries. Bedrooms have painted chests in muted shades of green and grey, as well as nooks with hooks for clothes (but no wardrobes). Look out for classy nods to the coastal setting - jars of shells, a vintage seascape above the bed.

Features include:

  • Barbeque
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Microwave
  • Outdoor space
  • Oven
  • Radio
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Tumble dryer
  • Tv
  • Underfloor heating
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi
  • Woodburner + logs

Eating

You’ll arrive to find a delicious homemade cake waiting for you, as well as tea, coffee and fresh milk. After a 2-hour drive, we tucked straight in.

Each cottage has a stunning, amazingly equipped kitchen - no scrambling around looking for a decent bread knife here. Expect a full quota of cutlery, crockery, glassware and cooking utensils - we even spotted mixing bowls. Again, modern and traditional elements have been beautifully merged. A Belfast sink and wooden surfaces sit atop sleek white cupboards, and there's plenty of high-spec equipment: a Smeg cooker, dishwasher and Dualit toaster and kettle. Ecover products (washing-up liquid, dishwasher tablets etc) are hidden under the sink.

This is the kind of place where a night in feels like a treat. Cook up a feast then allow the weather to dictate your dining room. If it’s warm you can dress a table (napkins and candles provided) outside; the Calfshed leads out to a large open courtyard with a table for 6, while the Lambshed has an intimate courtyard garden (table for 10). If the weather’s less accommodating (this is England, after all) congregate the group around your indoor table.

You’re a mile outside the village of Braunton, where there are a few little delis and food shops, as well as a superstore. Basic ingredients like olive oil, salt and pepper are already in the kitchen. If you fancy a change of scene, follow the winding lanes an equal distance in the opposite direction to leafy Georgeham. This sleepy village has 2 lovely pubs, both of which serve up tasty suppers in welcoming surroundings.

Features include:

  • Coffee tea making
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Toaster
  • Homemade cake
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The beautiful uncrowded beaches at Putsborough and Saunton are great for lounging in the sun and paddling in the shallows (especially lovely for families, with tiny natural seapools). For something a little more intimate, seek one of the smaller coves like Barracaine beach
  • Hit the waves at Woolacombe and Croyde Bay; the latter has countless surf schools; the former an enormous sandy beach (busy and windy though)
  • Have lunch in the charming Sandleigh Tea Rooms by Croyde, then walk the stunning coastal path to Baggy Point (2 miles)
  • Take the short drive to Exmoor and start exploring. It’s famous for pony trekking and popular with walkers, too
  • Ilfracombe is a pretty seaside town with Damien Hurst’s dramatic Verity sculpture presiding over the harbour, and Tunnels Beaches offers a unique insight into Victorian life
  • Broomhill Sculpture Garden is a hidden wonderland of contemporary sculptures
  • Two of the region’s top golf courses are within a short drive of the cottages. Saunton East runs on the edge of Bideford Bay, and the Royal North Devon Golf Club on Northam Burrows
  • Take a boat trip to Lundy Island; the largest island in the British Channel and a nature lover's paradise, with wild puffins
  • If surfing’s your passion, you won’t want to miss the Museum of British Surfing, which is just a mile or so away in Braunton and includes photography exhibits and classic surf memorabilia
  • Relax at Upcott Farm. Hidden in a quiet valley with only sheep to disturb the peace, it really is the perfect place to unwind: sit in the courtyard garden with a good book, explore the kitchen garden and let kids run wild in the meadow

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Kitesurfing
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Walking
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing

Kids

This is a great place for a family holiday; our Editor Liz came with her 2-year-old daughter and loved it. Ben and Sarah live on-site with their 2 daughters, and they naturally considered families' needs when designing the cottages.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Calfshed has 2 double bedrooms, 1 of which can be made up as a twin. The Lambshed is larger with 3 double bedrooms (again, 1 can be set up with twin beds). Both cottages have space for 2 baby cots, and larger groups can book both properties (sleeping 10 plus 4 babies).

Baby equipment:

  • Full-size baby cots
  • High chairs
  • Baby changing mats
  • Potties
  • Simple first-aid kits
  • Microwaves
  • Hand-held blenders
  • Baby carrier

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities on site:

  • Toy box (Lego, train tracks etc)
  • Children's books
  • Vintage badminton and tennis rackets
  • Fishing nets
  • Cricket bats
  • Boules
  • Gardens and meadow
  • Shared trampoline

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beaches
  • Arlington Court
  • Ilfracombe Aquarium
  • Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park

Families Should Know:

No stair gates, and stairs are steep

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour 20 minutes (Exeter)
  • Hospital: 20 minutes (Barnstaple)
  • Shop: 5 minutes' drive (Braunton)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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