What’s the draw?
Originally a vicarage, Glebe House is now a 15-acre smallholding and seven-bedroom guesthouse laced with Japanese wisteria and perched proudly on a hilltop in Southleigh. It’s the perfect bolthole for off-grid hospitality, positioned in the protected East Devon Area of Natural Beauty, a vast patchwork of fields stitched together by country lanes and hedgerows, where bright constellations take the place of streetlights. Glebe is the brainchild of husband-and-wife duo Hugo and Olive Guest, who took over from Hugo’s parents after they ran the property for 18 years.
Its interiors are what you’d expect the innards of Wes Anderson to resemble if he were dissected: a kitsch cacophony of hand-painted tiles, Ottoline de Vries wallpaper, and curtained sinks that Olive has painstakingly co-curated with Studio Alexander. Hypnotised, you can’t help but ogle every dressed nook and corner, mouth agape.
What to eat?
The enchanting decor is sufficient to seduce any guest from their city dwellings, but it’s the food offering at Glebe that elevates it head and shoulders above its peers. Hugo put his back into creating a world-class epicurean retreat, having learned the trade in the kitchens of Sorella and The Marksman in London as well as from the norcini pork butchers of Italy. Glebe harnesses the agricultural prowess and rich soils of the Southwest, growing much of the ingredients in the kitchen garden and polytunnel, butchering on-site and preparing the legendary porridge bread, salumi, and other delights on the premises in the bakery, temperature-controlled ageing room and AGA-equipped kitchen. Forget farm to fork – this is garden to gob, and Hugo has a talent for making you feel genuinely connected to the land we live on.
But why stop at land? Visit from May to September, and you can catch your own supper on a fishing boat in the rugged village of Beer, celebrated for its delicious mackerel. You’ll eat the fruits of your labour on a table several meters from the sea, flashed on a searing hot grill and doused in lemon, salt and smatterings of aioli. To accompany the feast are Lyme Bay scallops grilled in brown butter and slurped from their shells, as well as Glebe walnut salami, fermented carrots, grilled asparagus, and peppery leaf-topped radishes on thick clouds of hung yoghurt.
It’s all washed down with wine from Castlewood – a boutique vineyard in East Devon owned and run by the Corbett family with a philosophy grounded in small-scale production, zero filtration and no fining chemicals. Despite being dairy farmers by trade, it’s clear that these guys know as much about grapes as they do udders, the sparkling is very much top-shelf.
What to do?
Swap that Rab gilet for an apron and get ready to hone your craft. There’s a throng of creative classes available at Glebe, from salami and pasta-making to paper collage and bread baking.
If you choose to leave the grounds of Glebe (it takes persuading), Southleigh provides excellent walking territory, and the hand-illustrated walking bible in each room offers the perfect blueprint to plan any adventure, including plenty of routes with foraging, swoonsome vistas and pub pitstops.
Need to know
Address: Glebe House, Southleigh, Colyton, Devon, EX24 6SD
Venues: Hotel dining room, mackerel fishing and twilight dinner at Beer (£95), workshop space for cooking classes
Getting there: Trains to Honiton take 2h50 from London, followed by a 15-minute drive
For more information, or to book your stay visit glebehousedevon.co.uk