The perfect corporate getaway? Home from home at Huntsham Court
Devon in the sunshine, a louche, rather fabulous country house, Taittinger on stream and huge roaring fires. Can there be a better way to spend a weekend?
Well, perhaps not a weekend for a corporate event, as Huntsham Court is booked solid with wedding parties as you might expect. But only available for exclusive use, this gorgeous eccentric pile is mostly sitting empty during the week and so they’re keen to fill it by attracting the events market. And with five lovely reception rooms catering for up to 130 guests, five acres of pretty grounds and 40 bedrooms, this lovely Victorian gothic house could be just what you’re looking for.
Douglas Adams spent a lot of time here writing – or not writing – while Liam Gallagher used the house as a backdrop to a music video and Made in Chelsea has filmed on location here.
Situated very close to Tiverton Parkway, for guests arriving from London it really is under two hours from Paddington. If you’re looking for Ritz-Carlton type finishes , you’ll be disappointed. This is all about big comfy sofas, creaking worn floorboards and making yourself feel at home – the owners, Christopher Badham and Damian Llambias, are proud to point out that there are no ‘Do not touch’ signs anywhere and you are positively encouraged to wander at the small hours clutching a nightcap.
There are, however, brightly coloured cushions, lush fabrics, scented candles, carpets and chandeliers. There are some beautiful wallpapers, the rooms are huge and the bathroom fittings are stylish and modern. They’ve also invested heavily in the Wi-Fi. Designed to work as a country home from home, the Butler’s Pantry is kept stocked with snacks and drinks so that guests can help themselves.
And the food on my visit was great. A lovely home-cooked buffet lunch of soups, quiches and salads was laid on for an informal arrival and a similarly hearty cooked breakfast in the morning provided by The Devon Pantry. Our gala dinner was provided by local chef Peter Munday and was fabulous. The lunch boxes provided to sustain us on our journeys home contained tasty pies and scotch eggs from Bampton Game to be swilled down with Luscombe Drinks.
Rather unusually, Huntsham Court is available for a fixed inclusive fee and you add on whatever level or style of catering you want. As the owners say: “Our principle is: if you wouldn’t pay for it at home why would you pay for it here? So no corkage charges or other hidden facilitation fees or charges for the likes of cutlery or friends to visit.” There are no packages – except what’s included – instead a network of suppliers can be brought in to achieve whatever level of service, activity or catering your group requires.
“The most important thing is that we are not trying to be a hotel but instead we are simply your giant yet intimate home from home, with all the quirks and oddities of a big old country house. So feel free to come to breakfast in your PJs, curl up by a fire or go for a walk outside,” says Badham.
My room, Monica, was lovely. Beautiful views over the nearby church, gardens and distant hills from a curved window, from which, I was told, the last Baron used to shoot at servants arriving via the main entrance and not as instructed through the hidden tunnel. A four-poster very comfy bed, Rennie Mackintosh fireplace and slightly naïve yellow chinoiserie wallpaper of birds and butterflies add to the glamour.
Huntsham Court could just be the perfect corporate getaway for a group looking to kick back and relax in a venue offering few rules.
Published Date: 05/06/2019