Fancy a luxe lunch and a stroll around luscious paradise gardens? Here’s our hit list for some glorious days out
Gidleigh Park, Chagford, Devon (pictured above)
Set in 107 acres of gardens – including beautiful veg plots – and woodland on the banks of the North Teign River Gidleigh Park offers an escapist trip for garden lovers who appreciate fine food and wines.
Executive head chef Chris Eden brings a produce-led ethos to his smart menus. Refined plates, built around flavour, are skilfully laced with touches of adventure and invention. Experience Chris’ cooking at lunch or dinner, served in oak-panelled dining rooms with views out over the garden. In warm weather, dining on the terrace is an unmissable treat.
After lunch and a wander around the mature grounds which are just a stone’s throw from the wilds of Dartmoor, try your hand at a game of croquet, a round on the Peter Allis 18-hole putting course or a fly-fishing session.
Burleigh Court, Stroud, Gloucestershire
This intimate manor house hotel, with its three acres of lush gardens and panoramic views across the Golden Valley near Stroud, is a wonderful find for exquisite dining.
After the kind of warm welcome which makes you feel right at home, settle in for a spot of alfresco dining on the terrace or opt for a table on the patio which overlooks the Mediterranean-style garden. Chef Shaun Jones is on a mission to keep everything as local and authentic as possible and his two-AA rosette à la carte menus are built around produce plucked from the kitchen garden or sourced within a 30-mile radius of the house.
Post-gastronomic thrills include summertime games on the lawn, the chance to mosey around the grounds or simply the opportunity to lounge in a hammock in the garden.
Hotel Endsleigh, Tavistock, Devon
The Grade I-listed former residence of the Duke of Bedford enjoys unrivalled views over its stunning gardens across to Tamar Valley. The scenes from the restaurant and lounge windows are particularly lovely – especially when relished while sipping a glass of local Sharpham Estate wine.
Tempting diners’ attention away from the rolling countryside is clever cooking by head chef Thomas Ewings. Smart dishes such as venison ragu with baby turnips, pickled red cabbage and cavolo nero do justice to top-notch local ingredients. The wood-panelled dining room – complete with charming original features – makes a fitting backdrop to the splendid cooking.
After lunch, explore the acres of fairytale gardens and see if you stumble upon the little house paved floor to ceiling with shimmering shells.
Summer Lodge, Evershot, Dorset
Located in a postcard-perfect Dorset village and surrounded by lush lawns and rolling countryside, Summer Lodge offers a charming country house experience. We’d recommend taking a pre-lunch amble around the the hotel’s five acres of manicured gardens before heading in for the delights of refined cooking, care of head chef Steven Titman.
The seasoned chef uses only the finest locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to create classic British dishes with an international edge – think cured and scorched Cornish mackerel with Dorset wasabi, cucumber and crème fraîche. Complement your lunch with sommelier Eric Zwiebel’s pick of the cellar; the wine list is one of the most extensive in the South West and features 50 Champagnes and lots of wines by the glass.
The Horn of Plenty, Tavistock, Devon
Mature gardens, bucolic surrounds and attractive furnishings make The Horn of Plenty a thoroughly charming spot for a relaxing afternoon on the edge of Dartmoor. Yet guests aren’t only treated to spectacular views across the Tamar Valley, they’re also delighted by inspiring menus.
Dine in the airy restaurant, or outside on the spacious terrace, and drink in the luscious natural surroundings as you experience spot-on service and excellent cooking. The team have recently rolled out a flurry of renovations at the four-star hotel, including extensions of the bar, restaurant and alfresco dining areas, and a colourful Moroccan-inspired refurb of the drawing room.