Hotel Review: Buckland Tout Saints Hotel, Goveton nr Kingsbridge in Devon
South Devon has a lot to offer; seaside towns and villages – all with individual character – stunning beaches, fantastic local foods (seafood, meat, vegetables) and a gateway to the delightful Dartmoor landscape.
It offers a place to escape and relax, and what better place to stay while you try all of this, than Kingsbridge? Strategically placed within a 20 – 45 minute drive of Plymouth, Dartmouth, Dartmoor and the tips of the gorgeous South Devon coastlines, it is the ideal base from which to explore.
Buckland Tout Saints Hotel is a 17th century manor house with a 2AA Rosette holding restaurant and is situated in a secluded valley just minutes from Kingsbridge’s town centre. Offering up gorgeous views and fine dining, I was excited to spend a night there and even more so when I found that I was staying in one of the two master suites.
Fresh flowers, a chilled bottle of fizz and some fresh fruit welcomed my guest for the evening, Nick, and myself to our spacious suite. It consisted of a lounge and dining area set a few steps down from the door, a large bedroom with a king size four poster bed, chaise lounge and window seat and a separate shower room and bathroom. The elegant suite was decorated with pearly/white wallpaper, dark wood decorative furniture and sumptuous purple velvet furnishings, which oozed luxury and reflected the hotel’s classic feel and history. An espresso machine, two televisions and a double walk in shower kept the suite modern and the window seat could certainly offer a few hours of relaxation with a book overlooking some of the hotel’s 4 acres, including a large fountain and tidy lawns with the glorious South Hams hills beyond.
After a few glasses of bubbly (each!), we headed downstairs to the wood panelled bar to peruse the menu while resting against a red leather sofa. We enjoyed a drink here while we made our dinner choices and certainly felt the feel of a cosy, classic gentlemen’s bar.
Our friendly waitress, Mel, took our order and led us to the Russian pine-panelled, Queen Anne Restaurant. Bright white linen rested on the tables, while deep red luxurious curtains framed the windows matching the fabric of the chairs. Portraits sat on the high walls and a large fireplace finished the relaxed, low lit room.
For our starters Nick and I had both chosen seared Start Bay scallops, which were served with a parsley purée, Oakwood black pudding and crackling. The scallops were small but tasty as ever and the dish was very pretty with delicate presentation. The black pudding added a nice deeper flavour and the crunchy crackling was salty, crisp and a great contrast in texture to the plump, delicate scallops. The pesto was another warming element and the scallops handled all of the powerful flavours and textures well.
For my main course I stuck with seafood and opted for pan fried turbot with smoked bacon, peas, lettuce and shallot rings. The dish was light, sweet and fresh, reflecting the lightness of the spring season well. The turbot had a crispy side and, combined with the bacon, was quite meaty but both were complemented by a sweeter sauce, spring vegetables and beautifully light and crisp shallot rings. The plate looked really pretty and appetising and the crispy and soft, plump textures and mix in flavours made up a lovely dish. Nick opted for another traditionally spring dish of roast saddle of lamb, wild garlic risotto, braised shoulder and sweetbread cooking juices. He said the dish was rich and flavoursome with stronger flavours in the lamb and sweetbread, all well balanced out with lighter flavours in the creamy risotto and peas.
I had earlier spotted a dark chocolate Jaffa Cake fondant with blood orange salad and honeycomb ice cream on the menu and my mind had been made up then. The fondant was gorgeous and gooey in the middle with a delicate, light sponge on the base. A colourful orange salad complemented the heavier chocolatey tastes and, although I struggled to taste ‘Jaffa Cake,’ the right elements were there and it was a delicious dessert. Nick completed his meal with a banana pain perdu, ice cream, salted peanut and lime. It looked delicious upon arrival and he said the banana bread offered a nice airy texture and was full with flavour.
After a chat with some friendly fellow diners, we returned to our suite for a very restful night’s sleep in the large, comfortable bed with the sounds of the countryside our only lullaby. Breakfast was served in the Blue Room, which was littered with pictures of boats in golden frames and graced with a large fireplace, high ceilings and windows, and ornate plasterwork. I enjoyed the vegetarian breakfast while Nick had the full ‘Buckland Grill’ and we helped ourselves to buffet extras from a table in the neighbouring wood panelled lounge.
It is easy to see why this hotel is a popular choice for weddings. Each ground floor room (Queen Anne Restaurant, Blue Room, the lounge and bar) all own their own distinctive style with classic features and an elegant feel to mirror the grandeur of the manor house. On the lower ground floor ‘The Kestrel Suite’ is a dedicated events space that can accommodate up to 140 guests with its own bar and terrace leading to the lawns and fountain. I could certainly see myself waking up in the suite before utilising all that Buckland can offer for a big event.
Buckland Tout Saints Hotel is a member of the Eden Hotel Collection, which has seven other hotels across the South West and is holder of the AA small hotel group of the year award for 2014/15. It is also a member of Pride of Britain, which is an exclusive list – with an upper limit of 50 – of hotels “each dedicated to the pursuit of excellence” throughout England, Scotland and Wales.
In a nutshell
Stylish, classic décor mixed with the stunning surroundings of the South Hams offer an enchanting break from the norm.
Address: Goveton, Kingsbridge TQ7 2DS / 01548 853055