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Short stay: Paschoe House, Devon, UK

Michelin inspectors are keeping a close eye on Paschoe House’s stratospheric rise into foodie heaven. Since its opening in August 2017, Paschoe House has been on a soaring trajectory, awarded 5 stars by the AA for its discrete luxury and on the verge of a third AA rosette for its imaginative cuisine. It’s a phoenix from the ashes story. By 2010 Juan Amador had run out of funds in his attempt to revive a grand 19th century house built in Tudor Gothic style. The family home lay derelict for six years, until his daughter Tabitha, at the age of 26, revived a teenage dream. She raised the finance in 4 weeks, gained planning permission in 2 years and created an intimate 9 room boutique hotel. Meanwhile, on a separate page of history, Tabitha, now married as Mrs Fern, brought chef Craig Davies to Paschoe House. Having worked with a “Who’s Who” of great British chefs, Davies is eager to develop Paschoe House as one of the country’s top destinations for lovers of great food and wine. The welcome If you fly into Exeter Airport or roll into a local railway station, Robin Fern will happily collect you in Paschoe House’s Land Rover Discovery. There’s a friendly welcome from staff as they take your luggage and give you a wooden tagged old-fashioned key to one of the country themed rooms; Badger, Deer, Hedgehog, Rabbit etc. In the room there are home-made chocolates in a Treasure Island style mini-chest, a jar of Davies’ cookies and fresh milk for tea or coffee. The room This is country-living rewired for the 21st century. A mission-control panel opens and closes the curtains on a push of a button as well as managing the lighting. Under-floor heating infuses warmth through a neutral-tone carpet. Tabitha, who project-managed and designed every room, has brought Designers Guild wallpaper and a light touch to traditional country decor. Down a long, long rural drive, where even the birds are too relaxed for much of a dawn chorus, this is a place for deep restorative sleep immersed in a fluffy white cloud of pillows, sheets and duvet. The bathroom A separate thermostat, initially set for 23 centigrade, with warmth from below the light grey slate finish floor tiles, keeps the bathroom toasty. Vibrant floral wallpaper and original art work – “Running Hare” by Rachel Toll and “Boxing Hares” by Kat Lightfoot in our Rabbit room – give a relaxed lounge vibe to a room where guests are inclined to linger under the rainfall shower or relax in the roll-top bath. If you fall in love with the art work or the Bamford toiletries and their subtle aroma of geranium, lavender and peppermint – both are available to purchase as souvenirs to take home. Facilities Guests travel from afar for the restaurant. The seven course tasting menu begins with canapés and drinks in the Library Bar or amongst the Morning Room’s sumptuous sofas. A remarkable crunchy mini-haggis featuring Davies’ home-made succulent black pudding sets the tone. It sits alongside a smoked haddock brandade and a mini onion cappuccino. Moving through to the dining room, with a statement 13th century stone fireplace from the original Paschoe House, the tasting begins with a parsnip veloute: taleggio cheese bringing creamy flavours and parsnip crisps a contrasting crunch. Next up is a tender lobster tail, 10 minutes of sous-vide cooking seals in flavour, accompanied by Champagne in a wine-pairing that brings a glass for every course. A pig cheek – so soft, flaky and subtle that it’s best complemented by another white wine from the Rhone – has been sous vide cooked for significantly longer; 6 hours and 45 minutes at 85 C. It’s a consistent technique that preserves food’s molecular integrity. A Portuguese Dao is the only red amongst the pairings. It’s robust earthy flavours working well with the Christmas-on-a-plate course; a mini shoulder of red deer  en-croute, a medallion of red deer loin, chestnuts, red-currants and a venison jus. After the Snow Egg pre-dessert, there’s a decadent rich finish. A glistening fragment of gold-leaf tops a whisky jelly at the centre of a concentric creation of Manjari, the Grand Cru of Chocolate – and the final wine is a 10 year old Madeira. More informally, a Casual Dining Menu is available in the Library Bar and Morning Room. As well as the Tasting Menu there’s an A La Carte menu too. Other nice touches Paschoe House is a haven of experiences. The Clay Shooting days, beginning with breakfast, resting for elevenses and taking a leisurely lunch are popular. Many guests enjoy the chauffeur-driven Devon tours taking in sights such as Castle Drogo and the market town of Chagford. In summer there’s tennis and croquet on the lawn. And you can book spa treatments for the privacy of your own room. The best bit Paschoe House is foodie heaven. Tabitha has plans for a helipad so that culinary aficionados can fly in from distance. Nor will they just be there for dinner. Afternoon tea, with tasty twists, taken in the drawing room, is popular with both residents and visitors alike. Uniquely the breakfast buffet of cereals, fruit and morning pastries is brought to your table, accompanied by a miniature crate of bottles of fruit juices. Egg dishes, a full English breakfast or pancakes with bacon in maple syrup are cooked to order. Cost Rooms with B & B begin from £139 The Tasting Menu is £80 with the Wine Flight costing £55. Location Paschoe House is located on the Two Moors Walk, a long distance path of some 100 miles, through both Exmoor and Dartmoor. Just west of Crediton, it is about a 25 minute drive from Paschoe House to Exeter. The final verdict Paschoe House tweaks the country house concept with quirky taxidermy, there’s a cheeky ostrich keeping eyes on the bar, and considerable contemporary style. A vast antler chandelier, in the entrance hall, not only plays to Paschoe’s rural heritage but also the stag’s antler logo too. There’s a soft feminine touch to Tabitha’s makeover. By the logs crackling on the fire are sofas featuring delicate shades of aubergine, lovat and salmon. And Tabitha has thought of everything; a Boot Room full of wellies for country walks, popcorn to order for a movie night in your room, lavender bubble bath, chamomile tea bags to drift off to slip and jacketed mini hot water bottles. Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Paschoe House.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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  1. I’ve fallen in love with that antler chandelier and I’ve only seen a picture of it. I wonder if it was custom made to fit in to the space and decor. Whatever the answer there’s going to be a lot of people wanting one now.

  2. I get very confused with Devon. There’s the A30 and then hundreds of winding single track lanes. Can you give me any more ideas of where it is roughly? It looks like a very tempting place.

    1. Paschoe House is to the north-west of Exeter. It’s about half a dozen miles west of Crediton. It’s down a long private drive so it is a beautifully peaceful spot. It’s a lovely location where neither the moors nor the sea are ever too far away.

  3. Like the picture of the chef putting the final touches to his dish. From these pictures the food looks amazing. I don’t know whether it’s a result of all the TV food programmes but the quality of food in Britain is really very high nowadays.

  4. Good on Tabitha, she did a good job raising the money in such little time and she did amazingly well transforming this into such a gorgeous hotel. It’s little details that I always find so charming at hotels and you do tend to find them more at boutique places. Like the key fobs and the named, themed rooms. So sweet. Love the decor. Nice touch to have chauffeur driven tours too, you don’t find that too often. As for the food, brilliant presentation and it sounds like there’s ample choice too. I must admit, it’s far more reasonably priced than I’d expected as well considering the decor, the dining, the service, all of it.

    1. For those of us still in our 20s Tabitha really is some role model. She shows what you can achieve with determination and hard work. Though fair play to her chef too. From the photos of the food he obviously has a real flair for presentation. I’m guessing that it all tastes as good as it looks.

  5. I bet that Paschoe House does really well in the romantic break market. It must be a dream getaway destination, far enough away from towns and roads so that you can switch your phones off and escape from the world. As it’s so small it must be very intimate and not to difficult to go for a peaceful walk or find a secluded corner for a cosy drink.

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