As with so much of the local history of the area, it is not easy to establish Combe House's precise origins. No matter. Whether Saxon or Elizabethan, what is certain is that this delightful small country hotel set in 3,500 acres of beech wood and parkland represents quiet country living at its best.
The many regular visitors to Combe House know what to expect: not liveried doormen or glittering chandeliers, but a haven of real tranquility and genuine hospitality. Ken and Ruth Hunt's ambition is to make every guest feel like a member of an especially well-favoured family, and the huge log fires, guest rooms with supremely comfortable beds, hot water bottles, and luxurious bathrooms, friendly attentive staff, and above all superb food perfectly achieve this aim. The building itself makes no small contribution to this relaxing ambience. The magnificent ground floor rooms include the grandeur of the Elizabethan entrance hall and the panelled drawing room, with the house's 2 AA rosette-winning cuisine and exceptional wines (the latter from ancient underground cellars) enjoyed in the two candlelit dining rooms. The drawing rooms, and indeed the entire house and lovely gardens, can be set aside for completely exclusive and utterly focused corporate awaydays or board meetings.
Described by Prince Charles as "the ideal English village", Gittisham itself is an idyllic cluster of cob and thatch cottages around a Saxon church amid some of England's most unspoilt pastoral scenery.
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Combe House at Gittisham
Honiton, nr Exeter, Devon EX14 3AD
Location: 4 miles south west of Honiton off the A30
Tel: +44 (0)1404 540400
Fax: +44 (0)1404 46004