Presidential Suite – The Whitehouse, Devon.

Posted on May 2, 2010


When one thinks of luxurious boutique hotels, Devon rarely springs to mind as the setting. However, tucked away in the aptly named village of Chillington, lies one of England’s best-kept secrets: The Whitehouse Hotel.

The Whitehouse is a little oasis of luxury hidden in Devon’s beautiful countryside, mere minutes from some of Britain’s most impressive coastline.

The emphasis here is on relaxed luxury. Everything is beautifully presented, but never reserved or stuffy. Owner Tamara greets you with the warmth of an old friend you really should see more often, and immediately you are put at ease. This is true of everyone who works at The Whitehouse. You feel suddenly as if you are a part of a family. Even the guests seem keen to make friends, full of advice on places to visit and things to do.

The Whitehouse is an eclectic mix of styles. Here is the traditional English country house, crammed with the best of contemporary design. Mid-Century furniture sits comfortably next to modern art and industrial oddities. There are roaring fireplaces surmounted by antlers, but also giant angle-poise lights, quirky screen prints and Rothko’s that lean jauntily against the walls.

This blurring of styles has been attempted before, but never so successfully, or with such panache. Everything is balanced effortlessly and none of these design decisions seem forced. The result is that these apparently disparate elements form their own cohesive style, creating a warm and welcoming environment that is at once comfortable and homely as well as modern and dynamic.

The rooms here are simply gorgeous. Room 5 is magnificent, dominated by a huge, bespoke bed and with a bathroom you could get lost in – complete with a range of exclusive Whitehouse bath products.

The walls are painted the softest of greys, like an overcast sky, whilst a feature wall hosts wallpaper patterned with galloping horses, like Escher illustrating a stampede. All the creature comforts you could expect are there, too: A bar fridge, with all the usual contents, in a cleverly designed cabinet; a bedside coffee-machine; a sound system with mp3 dock and large flat-screen television to watch Sky, or one of the DVDs from the hotel’s extensive collection.

Downstairs, (if you can drag yourself out of the room,) there is a well stocked bar where you can perch and have a chat with Tamara. However, if propping up the bar is not your style, why not take your drink and curl up on one of the battered leather sofas in the snug, or sit by the fireside in the spacious sitting room?

There are plenty of books to choose from, if you happened to forget your reading matter, or there is a rack of up to date magazines to flip through. Better yet, take your drink out on the terrace, where the long, South-facing garden stretches away into the evening sunshine.

Whilst you are sipping your evening drink you can contemplate The Whitehouse’s first class restaurant menu. The Whitehouse opens their restaurants to the public in the evening, but guests are automatically reserved a table. And a good thing too, as those in the know keep the restaurant busy, and the atmosphere is always inviting.

The food is extremely good. Whether you are just indulging in a share plate of Italian meats and a mozzarella as smooth as the Devonshire cream on your scones, or you are there for a full course extravaganza, The Whitehouse menu is intelligently thought out, the food beautifully cooked and presented, and the cellar well rounded to accommodate all palates.

Also, the spa facilities at the nearby Dart Marina Spa are made available to Whitehouse guests – Just the thing after a day exploring the beaches or the towns. There you can enjoy a soak in the hot tub, a swim in the pool, or rid yourself of the days excesses in the steam room.

Treatments are also available, however these need to be booked in advance to avoid disappointment. £65 for a for a full body massage is a small price to pay to be turned into quivering jelly, and if you’re feeling particularly indulgent, you can arrange for a treatment in your room at The Whitehouse for the same price. Heavenly.

Despite all of this, Tamara and her business partners Ally and Matt are not content to rest on their laurels. They are full of boundless enthusiasm for new projects and improvements. For example, The Whitehouse has just expanded to include the beach side café at South Milton, on of the areas finest beaches.

At present, the café is still very much as you would expect it to be, all weatherboard with simple food and drinks on the menu. However, this is set to change, and with the passion and creativity of The Whitehouse’s team behind it, it will soon be the beachside destination in Dorset.

It is important to remember that this is not an inexpensive place to stay. The rooms range from £180 to £250 per night, with mains on the menu from between £16 to £28, but this is honestly value for money and you get what you pay for and more. Worth remembering too is that a car is virtually essential. There really is no reason to leave the hotel, however, with so much of Devon’s towns and coast to explore, it would be a shame to miss it. And whilst you can always take a train to Totness and  from there take a taxi on to Chillington, part of the charm is navigating the twisting B roads that lead you there.

With the entire World at our fingertips, and a million and one new places to visit, it is telling that The Whitehouse inspires a swift return.


Posted in: Travel & Leisure