A large dose of imagination and creativity has been injected into Broomhill Estate, making this retreat a go-to sensory experience and destination in its own right.
Broomhill Estate is located in deep Devon, making it an adventure from the get-go. A five hour drive (or 1 hour helicopter ride for those with deeper pockets) from London, or ten minute drive from the nearest train station (Barnstaple), will take you to this magical land of film, art and culinary delight.
The hotel has been renovated by the current owners – who also own a record label producing up-and-coming artists, Frictionless Music – transforming a somewhat idiosyncratic retreat into a visual feast and sanctuary for the arts. Art is imbued in every corner of the hotel: from the film-themed bedrooms, to the quirky taxidermy bar area, to the dining area and salon which ooze art and design. The cinema room needs special mention, as it is decorated with memorabilia from myriad blockbuster films, including a full-size Alien queen from the famous film franchise, a soap bar from Fight Club, and the iconic sword from highlander. All of the works of art are authentic and unique – and all for sale – creating a living space gallery (something which is, perhaps, the envy of many Mayfair galleries!).
There are six bedrooms, with each inspired by a different film, theatre performance or mood. These inspirations are the musical Velvet Goldmine (and 1975 hit by the same name by David Bowie), Lost In Translation, Moonrise, Betty Blue, Grey Garden, Amelie and A Clockwork Orange. We loved the sultry ambiance created by colour-coordinated furnishings and oh-so comfortable linen. The theatricality of the rooms, with a touch of the whimsical, is somehow perfectly balanced with the view over the lush and bucolic gardens. The two lounge chairs in our Amelie room, for instance, retain the drama of the curated interior, all the while providing a space of repose and quiet looking over the front of the house and the fantastical sculpture gardens.
Attention to detail permeates Broomhill Estate. The relaxing salon area, with various coffee table books and games beckons you to take a moment of respite….probably before or after having visited Canvas Restaurant, the pearl (or one of many) at this hotel.
Canvas Restaurant combines the elements of art and cuisine – and does this to perfection. A rotating exhibition adorns the walls of the restaurant, with local artist John Hurford’s ‘Psychedelic trailblazer’ showcasing during our stay. The atmosphere is exciting and stimulating – paving the way for the cornucopian feast that awaits you.
In the case of breakfast, guests are offered a ‘set’ menu which is an extravagant version of the full English and essentially offers a little bit of everything. The concept is a nod to the old English, aristocratic way of breakfasting: feasting until tea time. Think: fruits galore, a bread basket laden with warm breads, coconut porridge, smoked fish, a cheese and meat platter and of course, what has become known as the quintessential full English – bacon, sausage, eggs and tomatoes – this is the making of Broomhill Estate’s moreish breakfast. The quality of ingredients is superb, with many of these being hyperlocal (either produced on site or bought from local producers). Out of all of the 5 star breakfasts that we have reviewed, Broomhill Estate’s concept is undoubtedly at the top of the list as much for its uniqueness and for its outstanding quality.
Canvas Restaurant does not stop here. The dinner offering is so excellent that we are sure it is just a matter of time before it is awarded a Michelin star. We tried the Signature Palette Menu, a tasting course of 7 dishes.
This included: an assortment of warm breads and homemade butter; a moreish Ceviche Bass in a citrus sauce; the light and whimsical artichoke a la barigoule; a sensuous and textured miso ramen with duck yolk and celeriac; a robust cured bass framed delicately with fennel peas and tagetes; the tender hogget with aubergine, foraged garum and sardine; summer pudding with lemon thyme and rye; and the outstanding ice cream sandwich with cider cake and a curious but fantastically delicious hay ice cream.
The owners are incredibly proud of Canvas Restaurant, and rightly so. The quality of ingredients, presentation and ultimately taste is inspired and aspirational. Whispers of a pop-up in London were heard and no doubt, the restaurant would be fully booked every night.
Lastly, the sculpture gardens at Broomhill Estate are a local (and not-so-local) attraction.
The exhibition features over 150 works from established and emerging artists such as Ronald Westerhuis, Giles Penny, Tim Shaw, Carol Peace and Antonia Spowers.
The garden itself – more like a forest – is an absolute delight with nature’s art featuring everywhere: a gentle stream running throughout, a pond, and endless greenery, creating an outing for the perfect Summer day. Coupled with the intrigue and beauty of the art on display, there are perhaps few more blissful moments in this life than a stay at Broomhill Estate.