Member of 80’s chart-topping band, the Housemartins, English Musician and journalist, Stan Cullimore, heads to the South Hams for a one-of-a- kind boutique experience, and takes in some seaside air
If there is one thing you need to know about South Hams, it is this; it’s a heavenly part of the world. Outstanding. Most of it has been declared an area of outstanding natural beauty. It’s the place south of Dartmoor where Devon rolls down to the coastline and gives itself a pat on the back for being just so gorgeous. A land of rolling countryside, charming river- side towns and secret sandy coves built for adventures. It’s glorious – but the strange thing is, I haven’t been there for years. The area is a bit like one of those old friends you lose touch with when you stop exchanging Christmas cards – which is why my wife, Mabel the dog and I decided to go down there for a few days, just to remind ourselves what we were missing.
Luckily, we chose Brightham House B&B as our base, situated in the sleepy village of Malborough, perfectly placed to explore the entire area. I say, “luckily,” because this really is no ordinary B&B. It’s more of a bustling boutique beauty. The first clue that you are in for some- thing special is when you roll into the village and immediately spot your destination. Mainly because it is wearing a fresh coat of warm grey paint with a helter- skelter themed mural on the side, along with the name in big letters.
The second clue you have found yourself a B&B winner is when you step inside to discover a carnival themed wonderland – the place has neon lights, Dorothy’s shiny red shoes and the front half of a fairground carousel horse stuck to the wall.
At this point, one of the owners arrived to give us the grand tour. After the fun of the foyer there is a light and airy lounge for guests to relax in – next to which is the breakfast room, a standard issue conservatory which has been trans- formed into an oasis of tropical tranquility. Hipster style. Last of all is the self-serve bar, beyond which lie the bedrooms.
If it sounds like I was blown away by the place, that’s because I was. Obviously, I’m not the only one; it recently won the AA Unique B&B Award 2019 and is about to be featured on Channel 4’s Four in a Bed.
There are eight rooms to choose from, twin, double or king. And some of them are dog friendly, so canine companions are welcome. Our room, ‘Dartmoor,’ had all the trimmings you would expect at an upmarket boutique hotel, as well as a
collection of curios. The owners, Alistair and Scott, are avid collectors of cool furnishings and kitsch knick- knacks.
Later we got chatting to them. Alistair is a designer and Scott is a chef, which probably explains why the place looks so amazing and why the breakfasts are, quite simply, the best. I have been to private clubs in Brighton and Soho that aren’t this cool,
calm or collected.
Of course, the whole point of our trip was to explore the charms of the South Hams, so I got online in search of local tourist information. Armed with newfound knowledge of our destinations, we set off.
Nearby Salcombe is drop dead gorgeous, and sits on the edge of a picture perfect estuary and is just the right size to wander around. After mooching round some very lovely shops, we popped to North Sands, the beach next door, so Mabel and I could have a swim.
Later on, we drove the few miles over to Hope Cove, where we had a delightful supper of mackerel while watching the sunset. Next morning to went to Dartmouth, another nearby picture perfect estuary town. Complete with steam trains, a collection of ferries and enough cute cobbled streets to warm the cockles of any tourist’s heart. After Dartmouth we headed back to the B&B, taking the scenic seaside route past Slapton Sands. Here we stopped for a brew with a view at a friendly beach cafe.
Just when we thought the trip could not get any better, we returned to Salcombe for fish and chips and bumped into an old friend who we haven’t seen for years. Turns out, she also thinks South Hams is heavenly. Better still, they were huge fans of our B&B, so we all met up there for a breakfast the next day.
If you are ever in the mood to explore this part of the world, I can thoroughly recommend Brightham House – it’s truly heavenly. But, be warned, it will change your view of the B&B experience forever. There’s no place like it. Oh, and did I mention the breakfasts?
» Double en suite rooms at Brightham House start from £100 per night.
» Rooms range from the forest-themed ‘Dartmoor’ luxury premier King en suite (which can be booked from £115 per night), to the vibrant ‘Preston Circus’ double premier en suite (From £105 per night).
» All rooms include breakfast and free wifi » For more information visit www.
brighthamhouse.co.uk or call 01548 560111.