If you’re a city dweller like the majority of #TeamCoco, the idea of leaving the rat race for a long weekend out in the sticks is an absolute dream. Here at House of Coco, we don’t check into just anywhere when we want to get away, we visit the most luxury locations around the world. When our Lifestyle writer Jenna heard about Huntsham Court, the ultimate house-for-hire in the Devonshire countryside, not even a brand new Range Rover could get her there fast enough…
“I love living in the city. The buzz, the nightlife, apartment living is 100% my thing. If there’s wifi and a bar within a five minute walk, I’m in my natural habitat. However, I actually come from much simpler beginnings, I was born in Devon right by the seaside. Therefore, the West Country has always felt like home to me even though I haven’t lived anywhere near the sea for years. When the opportunity came up to travel 270 miles from Leeds down to rural Devon, I jumped at the chance. When I heard it was going to involve staying at the ultimate house-for-hire which boasts 35 unique bedrooms and unmistakable grandeur…I had already packed my bags.
Now of course, I’d be silly to travel such a long way without a stop off in my favourite city – the Capital. Going on my plus one’s recommendation, we stopped off at Berner’s Tavern (London Edition, Soho) for a ridiculously good lunch – I’m talking fresh crab and fantastic wine. It was the perfect way to kick off what was set to be a very glamorous trip. After a quick whizz around Oxford Street for some last minute heels, we headed to Kings Cross to make our way down to the Countryside. With a Fortnum & Mason hamper for the journey paired with even more wine, we settled down in our seats for a few hours of gossiping and going over the itinerary for the weekend.
Arriving into Tiverton-Parkway we were picked up by a convoy that would rival The President. Five white Land Rovers with our own personal drivers loaded our cases up and we were on our way to the house. We naturally selected the brand new Range Rover Vogue SE for our ride, which was probably the comfiest journey around country roads i’ve had in a while. Our driver explained how The Range Rover Experience offer these rides for hire and also educates new owners on everything these vehicles can do. Perfect for if you’ve never driven a 4×4 before and need a bit of extra coaching when it comes to going off-road, which we definitely were!
Night had fallen so we could literally see nothing but winding roads. This was until we began to approach the house, and we were in AWE. Imagine Downton Abbey, but cooler. All phone signal had gone and the chance of Wi-Fi hadn’t been revealed yet, two feelings came over me: relaxation and slight fear. How an earth was I going to Instagram from HERE. This fear was short lived as soon as I stepped inside the house (there was wi-fi, yippee!) and the welcome was more than warm, it was like visiting your family. After having our bags taken up to our rooms, we were greeted with a glass of Champagne and told to take full advantage of our own personal Pizza Chefs The Travelling Pizzeria outside on the driveway. As Huntsham Court comes as a dry-hire (prices start from £10,300 for a two night stay) there is no internal catering, which meant our weekend feed was going to be provided by the very best in local produce. The Travelling Pizzeria did not disappoint , with a fully functioning stone pizza oven built right into their van. We tried an array of their offerings, including the very rare Dartmoor Taffety, which albeit different, was AMAZING.
After making ourselves acquainted with the very hospitable Chris, who bought the house back in 2012 with his partner Damian after 13 years in the Big Smoke, we were taken to our rooms. We were staying in the very charming Tidswell Suite which had beautiful views over the gardens of the house, where you could see the cutest little bandstand which was Wedding GOALS.
Our name was placed on the front door (surely incase any suitors came searching for us in the night?) and we were left to enjoy the room. Needless to say, the beds could rival any 5* hotel. Best nights sleep in a while.
Waking up from a tremendous night, the only sound was birds and a stream nearby. Heading downstairs for breakfast we were greeted by our fellow guests and The Devon Pantry offering smoked salmon scrambled eggs and french style croissants with ham & cheese. As I’m attempting to diet for my summer body, the eggs were an obvious choice & were delicious. Sat there having breakfast, I began to really love the concept. No intrusive staff (unless you want them) and the ability to pick every single element of your event. If you want crepes for breakfast, you can hire somebody to come in and make you & your party the best crepes for every morning of your stay. Did you have an amazing hot dog back at Glastonbury ’08? Why not hire that exact vendor to provide the midnight munchies to your guests. As a person who likes things how I like them, this would be the ideal venue for an amazing party – exactly how I want it.
After breakfast it was a tour of the house. Now this part I was MAJORLY excited about. With 35 bedrooms that can house around 84 guests including a private Cottage, there was a lot to see. All I’ll say is this – Chris & Damian have impeccable taste and have thought of everything. The majority of rooms have four poster beds with beautiful drapes and there’s almost a roll top bath to match every bed. Some of the rooms gave me serious ENVY as they were so romantic, my favourite being The Flower Room which had a beautiful bath on a marble platform. We may of snuck in there later on, but shh! Each bedroom is uniquely designed and the real job would be deciding which of your friends are best suited to each room. One tip: Reserve the rooms in the Atrium for your best friends as this is the coolest area of the house.
Another thing that makes this house really special is the thought that’s gone into it from the owners. Each room is named after memories with friends, friends names and even their beloved dogs. The house is still a work in progress with some rooms being renovated, but the entire place is stunning.
After the tour we went for a walk around the expansive grounds, getting totally lost in the country side and putting the world to rights. It’s amazing how the fresh air can make you look at things in a new perspective, I would definitely recommend it if you’ve got an ex trying to get to you via text (no signal + beautiful surroundings = boy, bye.) We walked back into the main grounds to find some of the group shooting some arrows and shooting some pistols – very country-esque. We chose a bottle of Champagne and hanging out in the amazing rooms before Afternoon Tea instead….no regrets.
Now when I say Afternoon Tea, I don’t mean a few stale sandwiches and Tetley tea. This was almost a show itself with the largest cake stand I’ve ever seen in my life and the finest bone China. They had even considered some of the guests dietary requirements with a Vegan and Gluten Free Afternoon Tea stand, which just shows how custom you can make your experience at Huntsham Court. We hung out in the Diamond Room eating the fabulous offering (prepared by Peter Mundy Catering) and drinking until we almost couldn’t eat anymore, then it was time to get ready.
I mean this wouldn’t be a luxury break without getting my hair and makeup done, surely? After having my hair suitably curled and a contour rivalling Kimmy K, it was time to slip into something a little more formal for the evenings proceedings. As some may know, I like to think of myself as a little bit of a wine and Champagne connoisseur, so a wine tasting was the perfect way to kick off the evening. The guys from Majestic hooked us up with a few glasses of fizz, several different wines and some fabulous Yorkshire gin.
After drinks came the black tie event for Save The Children, a fantastic cause that all proceeds of the event went to including casino winnings and any take from the bar.
The sit-down dinner was fantastic and lovingly prepared by Save The Children volunteers, which shows the commitment this charity has to their cause. The setting was quintessentially English in the beautiful library of the house, dressed with chandeliers and drapes. We had so much fun devouring the food and chatting away – yet the evening was just getting started. The Diamond room had been transformed into a Monte Carlo style Casino with croupiers and games such as Roulette and BlackJack to name a few. Armed with 20K in ‘fun money’ I headed to the roulette table and won 100K between three rounds, that good nights sleep must of had me feeling lucky.
The night ended with dancing and a tour of Chris & Damian’s ridiculous wine cellar, which has EVERYTHING, a few drinks later and the party had really begun. All I’m going to say is shots of Patron XO in the Butlers Pantry, croquet mallets, getting stuck in the bath and a photoshoot to rival Vogue.
If you’re looking for a weekend escape, but you want to party like it’s 1864, grab a ton of friends and hire out Huntsham Court. Their dedicated party planners (Petra really knows her stuff!) will help you build an event that possibly Elton John’s White Party couldn’t match. This house may be the perfect wedding venue, but it’s so much more than that.”
Tel: 01398 361 277 (anytime)