Hotel Review: Orestone Manor, Maidencombe, Torquay in Devon
For a hotel owned by a couple of chefs, in the larder that is South Devon, you would hope that the resident restaurant would be pretty good. Luckily this is exactly what you get at Orestone Manor.
Sitting in the coast with views over Lyme Bay, the 4 star hotel holds a 2 AA Rosette awarded restaurant with a mouthwatering menu. I enjoyed a late autumn stay and struggled to choose from the autumnal menu – it all sounded so tantalising! Add in a stay in one of the newly appointed coach house suites with many modern fittings including a hot tub on the decking and I was a happy customer!
The Edwardian manor, built in 1830, was the former lodge of John Callcott Horsley, narrative painter and designer of the first Christmas card. His portrait of his brother in law, Isambard Kingdom Brunel was painted at Orestone Manor and now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.
In spring 2000 the hotel was refurbished and now offers 16 individually decorated rooms and suites, a bar, lounge, restaurant, conservatory, terrace and gardens. It is a short walk downhill to Maidencombe beach (a stop off in the local pub is recommended before you tackle the steep hill up!) and plenty of activities can be taken up nearby including fishing, coasteering, a trip on the South Devon Railway, cheese and wine tasting and Sharpham and more. If you prefer to stay in the hotel and relax, that’s fine too, afternoon tea is available and of course, if you’re lucky enough, you may even have your own hot tub!
Our room was in fact a semi detached new split level cottage with modern fittings and luxuries galore, which we made full use of. The ground floor held a king size bed, flat screen TV, wardrobe, dressing table and wet room with a double sink and the carpeted upstairs held a kitchenette with an espresso machine, patio doors leading out to a balcony, a larger flat screen TV, sofa and a bath, yes, a bath!
There’s mood lighting throughout so you can create any atmosphere you want and under floor heating is glorious at any time of year! We had an Espresso and put our up feet up when we first arrived before taking a dip in the hot tub. This also had mood lighting and varying jet speeds as well as three places to sit with jets targeted at different areas of the body, which offered some great massage for my shoulders, legs and back. The suite had all the mod cons I like and could have easily seen myself staying here comfortable for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t quite bring myself to have a bath in the open plan lounge/kitchen upstairs – I prefer my privacy – but the shower was fantastic with plenty of space and two powerful shower heads. Tartan blankets, cushions and curtains in the bedroom combined with all the wood was cosy and comfortable and I really enjoyed my stay here.
A good menu is on offer, showcasing plenty of local suppliers and offering lots of choices for the non meat eaters too. There’s a British focus with the availability of coast and country ingredients being well utilised.
For my starter I opted for smoked duck, avocado, pine nuts, crispy bacon, orange and cardamom, which looked fantastic all spread out on a black slate. Creamy, crunchy and delicate textures and salty, sweet and peppery flavours made for a lovely dish. Served in a Martini glass, Nick described his starter of Brixham crab Martini, avocado, mango ice and poppy seed straw as a ‘posh prawn cocktail.’ He liked the combination of the brown and white crab meat with the sweet mango and crunchy textures.
My main course was delicious, I opted for the pan roasted fillet of bass with Palourde clams, Serrano ham crisp, lobster bisque, saffron cocotte potato and fine beans. There was plenty of colour, texture and flavour on the plate; I loved the saffron potatoes and crispy ham with the meaty and crispy edged fish. I wasn’t too keen on the bisque but it was a nice dish overall. Nick went for the pan roasted sirloin of Fluder Farm Dexter beef with artichoke rosti, Chinese gingered mushrooms, puréed carrot, fine beans and a soy caramel sauce. He described is as a rich, earthy, hearty dish, full of autumnal flavours with the beef travelling just two miles to the plate.
We decided that sharing is caring so went for two desserts that caught our eyes and started with a chocolate fondant with peanut brittle and salted caramel ice cream followed by a cheese board. Our rich, sweet and delicious first dessert had all the elements of a Snickers and we loved it, while the great selection of West country cheeses were generous in size, ripe and tasty.
The décor of the restaurant reflects the rest of the hotel – with the exception of our cottage – trying to stay in keeping with the manor house’s roots. Dark woods, deep reds, large maps, ornate frames, decorative fireplaces and patterned rugs and curtains make up the décor of the main house with every room being low lit at night to aid that comforting atmosphere. In the morning we had breakfast in the conservatory, which had lovely views through tall trees out to the water.
In a nutshell
You do feel like you’re stepping back in time a little at Orestone Manor, which is lovely, even though our cottage didn’t quite fit with the theme (I don’t care, I loved it and I want to live there). The staff are absolutely lovely and the food is worth visiting for that alone.
Address: Rock House Ln, Maidencombe, Torquay TQ1 4SX
Phone: 01803 897511