Adrian Mourby

Back to Inspirations
With so many chains of “cookie-cutter” hotels around the British Isles it’s worth celebrating the idiosyncrasy of our unique places to stay. Idiosyncrasy is something the British do particularly well, whether it’s a hotel in a vineyard or disguised as medieval village, a room above an East End pub or in the middle of a Georgian terrace. So this summer book into somewhere a bit different for that special weekend away. 

For sheer Jane Austen charm it is difficult to beat the Peak District town of Buxton, particularly its Crescent Hotel.

The BBC’s much-beloved 1992 dramatization of  Pride and Prejudice was shot within a few miles of  this Derbyshire spa town.  In 1780, twenty years before the publication of Austen's much-loved novel, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, commissioned one of these new French-style “hotels” in the shape of a crescent opposite the thermal springs of St Ann's Well.  William Cavendish could see health tourism might make him money, particularly if it exploited thermal springs that had been famous since Roman times. 
A popular story runs that the 5th Duke had an ulterior motive. His wife, the fabulous Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (played by Keira Knightly in the film The Duchess (2008)) was forever running off to London and Bath for the delights of the "season" and losing fortunes at the gaming tables. 

His Grace decided to bring some of the charm of both cities to Derbyshire where his family seat was based nearby at the palatial -but isolated- Chatsworth House. Here in Buxton Georgiana’s radical set might play cards all night under his watchful eye. 
So the celebrated architect, John Carr of York was dispatched by the Duke to Bath to study the Royal Crescent (1774). This, still one of the most famous buildings in Britain had been designed by John Wood Jnr as a unified sweep of 30 town house facades.  In Buxton, Carr created only eight houses, but his design incorporated a thermal bath at one end of the crescent and assembly rooms at the other.  This neo classical sweep was Bath in miniature, brought to the chilly Peak District. 
Known variously as St Ann's Hotel and The Great Hotel, what is now The Crescent Hotel created the basis of tourism in Buxton. Other hotels sprang up nearby and the Duke built a luxurious stable for 120 carriage horses on the slopes behind his hotel. 

Carr’s magnificent terrace of boarding houses cost £38,000 to complete, a huge amount of money in the 1780s. The headstrong Georgiana, on visiting the building site in 1783, wrote to her mother, "I never saw anything so magnificent as the Crescent though it must half ruin me.”
Fortunately William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire was making plenty of money from his copper mines in Staffordshire. The Royal Navy had recently taken to copper-bottoming their fleet as the metal protected hulls and allowed British warships to sail faster.

Once opened, The Crescent became the flagship of Buxton tourism and remained so throughout the nineteenth century. It can be argued that, at a third of the width of Bath's Royal Crescent, its proportions are more pleasing to the eye. Wood’s Royal Crescent is just too big - whereas Carr's Crescent is clearly a work of beauty on a human scale. This fact is obvious to anyone walking their dog at 7am or, in my case,  stumbling back from the nearby opera house at 11pm. 
Sadly by the end of the twentieth century parts of this superb building lay derelict, while others were  repurposed into council offices. The gracious assembly room -whose painted ceiling outshone anything offered in Bath-  had been turned into the town's public library. 
Reviving the Crescent was a major twenty-first century, with investment from two local councils, input from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Historic England and the Ensana Group, which runs many spas in Europe.  The total refurbishment cost was £67,500,000 of which two million alone went into the removal of pigeons and other vermin from the decaying structure. 
Today the resulting accommodation is breath-takingly  harmonious. The eight doors of the original eight hotel lodging houses have been retained (making it difficult to find the main door of the hotel, which has no obvious signage!). And there are  eight original staircases to the first and second floors -rather than one grand floating staircase leading off reception. Every shade of paint is strictly drawn from what would have been available in the 1780s.
The newly revamped Ensana Crescent Hotel managed to open in 2020 for just 34 days before Covid lockdowns in Britain shut it down again. However since the end of the pandemic it has thriven with guests coming from across the north of England, the Midlands,  as well as the Peak District. Crow's original thermal pool at the west end of the terrace has been restored with the very same iron canopy that the Victorians added, now beautifully glazed in blue stained glass. The spa’s naturally warm water arrives 5,000 years after raining down on Derbyshire. It has been boiling below Buxton for millennia before bubbling up in the spa town today. Because the water is untreated, the hotel pool must be drained every night and its tiles scrubbed clean of mineral deposits. Only then can it be refilled. This process takes eight hours before this very special facility can reopen at 8.30 the next morning. It costs a lot of money to visit the spa if you are not a guest of the hotel so make the most of it while staying.

Nowadays the Assembly Rooms at the east end of The Crescent is let out for functions. Its grand curving staircase leads past portraits of Duchess Georgiana, the 5th Duke, and John Carr, architect up to the splendid former public library. It's a lofty room with an exquisite ceiling moulded in pale pink, blue and yellow. James Turner, the Operations Manager, says that he only has to get a prospective bride and groom to view this room to guarantee its booking.

Opposite the curve of the hotel's gracious colonnade stands the original St Ann's Well, which was given a nineteenth-century makeover and is now a visitor centre. Next to it is a small fountain flowing with warm Buxton mineral water from the spring.  Although this water is bottled these days by the Nestlé company and sold worldwide, here it is freely available to anyone who cares to fill a receptacle.  
Around the corner of The Terrace is Buxton's Opera House, which was built in 1903 to designs by the great English theatre architect, Frank Macham. It's a fine Edwardian building flanked by two impressive cupolas. The opera house hosts an annual Gilbert & Sullivan Festival every summer, along with a diverse programme that ranges from An Evening with Joan Collins to a Ukrainian Rock Symphony Orchestra.  

There is no doubt it was the 5th Duke's Terrace Hotel that put Buxton on the map of fashionable England, when it opened in 1789 and no doubt that its restoration has returned Buxton to the tourist map over 230 years later.

Less than ten minutes south of Buxton stands the Forest Distillery  where one of England's best artisanal gins is created at the former Cat and the Fiddle pub. For £15 you are served a lot of this excellent spirit and learn even more. You then get a discount on any purchases. 

On Climping Street, a narrow country road running down from the A259 to the Sussex coast, there stands a white-washed pub with a low-tiled red roof. Its age is uncertain, but it’s likely from the seventeenth century. Over the years this historic inn has been known as The Black Horse, The White Horse and the White Swan. Then for several years at the beginning of the twenty-first century, it lay derelict. Indeed, according to a local story its interior resembled the Marie Celeste with unfinished pints on the bar and unfinished plates on old wooden tables. During the Covid lockdowns of 2020-21 Historic Sussex Hotels bought and refurbished The Black Horse at considerable cost. It reopened in March 2024, offering seven delightful dog-friendly bedrooms.

The new Black Horse has a pink-panelled private dining room where there used to be public lavatories plus a new public dining room in what used to be the pub’s bowling alley.

It also has an impressive new  pewter-topped bar (said to be the longest in West Sussex) and lots of cozy nooks around two log-burning stoves. On alternate Fridays there is live music when the bar is absolutely full. (It certainly was when we stayed for an evening with singer Emma Stevens.)

The seven bedrooms on the first floor are named after the Fiona Howard wallpapers that decorate them: Fern, Orchard, Woodland, Wild Rose, Rockpools, Birdsong, and Celandine with cushions and throws in complementary or contrasting colours. Fiona Howard is a highly successful designer who works in a few colours through lino-block printing. Remarkably – and wholly coincidentally - she actually lives just a few doors down the lane from The Black Horse. Two of her rooms even have terraces facing east for morning sunlight. 

Food is served in The Ryebarn, a glassy extension supported by huge oak beams. Mains include sirloin steak, beer battered fish and chips, burgers with Brighton blue cheese and Climping Beach fish pie. There’s a wide selection of puddings too.
In a short space of time The Black Horse has re-established itself as an excellent local pub. This is a great place to spend the night when you are exploring West Sussex. Arundel Castle is five miles north. Brighton 25 miles east and Chichester Harbour 25 miles to the west.

Since the 11th century, Arundel Castle has been the seat of the Earls of Arundel and the Dukes of Norfolk. Today the castle often doubles for Windsor Castle (where filming is not allowed) in movies such as The Madness of King George (1994) and The Young Victoria (2009).

Oxford is a hugely popular city for tourists but it doesn’t have enough five star hotels. Most visitors arrive by car or coach from London  – and disappear back there by the evening. A new luxury option has recently emerged however at Rhodes House. This remarkable 1920s building is part of Oxford University but only inasmuch as it doubles as a home for Rhodes Scholars. 
In 1902 the terms of Cecil Rhodes’ will created an Oxford scholarship programme for postgraduate English speakers from all round the world.  Bill Clinton, astronomer Edwin Hubble, author Naomi Wolf and musician Kris Kristofferson have been alumni. Rhodes House was designed as a home for these exemplary students.  It was completed in 1928 and mixes English country-house dimensions with a neoclassical portico. These days there are 35 very comfortable ensuite bedrooms offered within this remarkable building with its rotunda-like entrance hall, collegiate style dining room and modern-day café within the garden. The dining room is graced with a modern cascading chandelier of thousands of white porcelain botanical shapes.

Hotel guests register in the East Lodge and are given a pass that lets them into most of the facilities. There is so much to see, including the plaques to former Rhodes scholars who died in both world wars. Two of the German scholars were executed for participating in the bomb plot to kill Adolf Hitler. 

Rhodes House provides room-only accommodation and no parking (but then Oxford is a city to which only the fool-hardly would bring a car). Its subsidised garden café operates between 8am and 5pm and just around two corners is the cafe of the New Bodleian Library, the Kings Arms and The White Hart, a tiny, semi-subterranean pub that often featured in episodes of TV’s Inspector Morse.
The location is wonderfully central if you are in Oxford to shop, to check out the world-famous Ashmolean Museum with its Egyptian antiquities or attend a concert by the Oxford Philharmonic at the Sheldonian Theatre. Everything is in walking distance which – unless you own a bike – is how you get around in Oxford these days.
Rhodes House is a much-needed addition to the hotel scene in this beautiful city. The staff are amiable and the quality of décor in the rooms is first as befits future presidents and Nobel prize winners. 

The Pitt Rivers Museum is just across South Parks Road from Rhodes House. Founded in 1844 it is an anthropological museum belonging to the university that exhibits up to half a million objects curated  by subject. Thus, you will see shoes from earliest human times right up to the present day from all around the world.
Sadly during Covid the museum’s collection of shrunken heads was removed.

On a stretch of almost totally undeveloped beach west of Little Hampton, the roaring English Channel eats away at Climping Beach annually, taking out great mouthfuls of low cliffs in the winter as its munches its way towards the mock medieval village of Bailiffscourt. 

Like Portmeirion in North Wales, Bailiffscourt is a hotel in disguise. This one was built by Lord Moyne and his wife Lady Evelyn in the 1920s. In 1927 they bought a huge section of the Sussex coast to inhibit further development between Brighton and Bognor. The project was a great success. If you stand on Climping Beach today only one regrettable block of flats near Littlehampton spoils a timeless view east.
The creator of Bailffscourt was Lord John Moyne, third son and heir to the Guinness family fortune. He was a successful soldier and Conservative politician. He and his wife held weekend house parties on the estate which they fashioned into a low-lying village.

The old manor house was turned into a quasi mediaeval abbot’s dwelling. A matching new building, The Thatch House was constructed nearby. Both had lots of bedrooms with highly individual names like Maunsbroke, Stroodland and Wylmcroft, all named after local fields on ancient maps. An underground tunnel was built between the two houses so guests could come and go effortlessly between each other’s bedrooms. British aristocrats knew how to party between the wars.
There is plenty to do at Bailiffscourt: croquet in the summer, an outdoor spa pool, and tennis in summer. (This is one of the few English country-house hotels to maintain its tennis courts.) You can also walk the grounds and see the remarkable buildings that the Guiness family had taken from all over the south of England and reconstructed here. Some of the structures were really just bits of buildings that their amateur architect, Amyas Phillips found and reworked into quasi-medieval structures. Seven of them have  working fireplaces however which are delightful when the sea spray beating down on the coast or rain is hammering down on your roof. (I have to admit I am a real sucker for a real fire.)

Food, in the hands of head chef Russell Williams, is stylishly  presented in the high-vaulted dining room and at breakfast time there is a free-pour bottle of Bells Whisky to augment your porridge – a nice touch on colder mornings. Or just a nice way to start the day.

Once settled, it is difficult to stir beyond Bailffscourt but the seaside town of Littlehampton is worth visiting.  It was here that the poison pen letters scandal of 1920 erupted.  The author Emily Cockayne recorded this in Penning Poison: A History of Anonymous Letters (OUP) and in 2024  a film Wicked Little Letters (starring Olivia Coleman and Jessie Buckley) based on the book was released.

In Surrey, just north of Dorking stands Denbies, a vineyard that is home to more varietals (18) than are grown in any other single estate in Britain.  Its hotel is much, much more than a place to stay; it is an English wine experience. In a good year – and there have been quite a few recently – Denbies can produce nearly half a million bottles of wine: red, white, rosé, orange, plus a Whitedowns fizz from  Seyval, Reichensteiner and Pinot Noir grapes - or the award-winning Surrey Gold using Müller-Thurgau, Ortega and Bacchus grapes.

In the middle of this busy vineyard stands an old farmhouse which has been converted into a 17-bedroom hotel. With London only an hour away by train it is not unusual for family parties - and even wedding parties-  to be held at the hotel. It’s a small white-washed building from the outside but inside expands in all directions like a Tardis. And from the foot of your bed you will see grapes growing across the 265 acres.  

You’ll also see early-morning dogs being walked by their owners, because the Denbies Estate is wonderfully open to the public. Pooches and their two-legged friends stroll up and down the pathways and then call in for coffee at the Visitor Centre. This towering building, faced with Dorking flint, contains a farm shop, an art gallery, souvenir shop and first-class restaurant at its very top. Meanwhile, behind the shop, wine is being made daily in massive stainless-steel tanks.
Christopher White, who took over running Denbies from his father in 2004, recognised early on that such a large vineyard, which is dependent on the British climate and some vulnerable grapes, needed a solid source of income, independent of grape production. So Denbies has also developed as a tourist attraction. It even has a tractor train to guide people round the estate, which is a lot of fun. 

For the more serious wine connoisseur it is possible to arrange a private tasting here. In winter these happen in the hotel’s indoor “wine library”. In the summer there are tastings on the terrace, a charming deck built around a large oak tree in the middle of the vines. For a 90-minute tasting of five premium wines with a selection of cheeses, hosted by a Denbies expert, the cost is £85 per person.

Less than two miles east from Denbies on an imposing escarpment stands Box Hill Fort, which was carved out of rock to be one of the London Defence Positions. Constructed in the 1890s Box Hill was intended to repel a putative French invasion should our old enemy cross the Channel successfully and march north and east towards London.  

Box Hitll, Surrey

Edgbaston lies on high ground close to the old city centre of Birmingham. In the nineteenth century, two land-owning  families, the Gough-Calthorpes and the Gillotti agreed to prevent the development of any factories or warehouses on their land, making this village an attractive place for the more successful residents of the city to build their town houses. Thus Edgbaston came to be known as the land "where the trees begin". In 1832 Birmingham’s 18-acre Botanical Gardens were opened on Calthorpe land and their layout is very little changed nearly 200 years later.  
In the 1860s a substantial Victorian villa was constructed  on one of the leafy lanes that connected Edgbaston village to the Botanical Gardens. Today this typical nineteenth-century white stuccoed mansion is known as the High Field Town House Hotel. It offers twelve suites, some with freestanding baths in the bedroom, ideal for those of us who feel we have bodies to flaunt. The décor throughout is eclectic with antique wardrobes, contemporary cushions and framed posters on the theme of the Dean Martin song, Relaxez Vous. 

The reception desk is not always staffed. Guests are sent a code by email that lets them into the building on the day of arrival and a variant on that code lets them into their room. In the room a pass for car park will be waiting (essential, as the car park is not owned by the hotel). Tea and coffee facilities are also available in the room but there is also a sturdy Nespresso machine in the hotel’s sitting room downstairs. It is possible to stay at High Field Town House without seeing another person, but also unlikely as the hotel is good value, central and therefore super busy.
Meals are served nearby in The High Field which is a 1930s building owned by Peach Pubs. Jo Eames, the co-owner of Peach oversaw the revamp of both buildings. Peach Pubs is a small and cheery chain in the middle of England whose motto is “Make Life Peachy”. A large scale model of a pig sits outside this gastro-pub for no other reason than he looks good there. There is a certain quirk about Peach.
It is fitting that the company should have taken over this building as the hotel’s dining room because it was originally built by Francis W B Yorke who in the 1940s wrote a book on the designing of pubs in the post war era.
The Peach wine list is a touch more ambitious than that found at the average UK pub and their cheese list is entirely English. I have no idea why the staff enjoy their work so much but they really do make your meal. When we stayed recently our waitress at breakfast greatly admired my wife’s necklace and my cufflinks and we had a big discussion about travelling to Greece and Jordan where each was purchased. However if you have any problems with your bedroom you only have to ring the pub for them to sort everything for you.
Birmingham is very much a business person’s city with all the major hotel chains in evidence so to find somewhere quite so friendly and so much fun so close to the centre is delightful.

Birmingham City owns one of the best collections of Pre-Raphaelite art and artefacts in the country and – while the city’s art gallery remains closed for restoration – some lovely items may be viewed at the nearby imposing Gas Hall. The exhibition is entitled Victorian Radicals and costs £11.

Gas Hall

The Old Ship Inn is a traditional English pub, situated in trendy Hackney and just a few doors down from the famous Hackney Empire where Charlie Chaplin, W. C. Fields, Stan Laurel and Julie Andrews all performed. More recently Jo Brand, John Cleese, Ben Elton, Harry Enfield and Jennifer Saunders have also entertained at the Empire. The Old Ship Inn is a perfect place to stay if you’re here for a performance or visiting the nightlife of nearby Hoxton Square or just
getting an early flight from City Airport.

This nineteenth-century pub-with-rooms has a genuine East End feel to it. Downstairs there’s a bar for drinking, a few tables for eating and quite a lot of distressed brick work. Guests sit on old school chairs marvelling at the list of beers etched in white chalk on the walls.

The pub’s nine rooms are accessed up a very steep staircase and contain the basics: tea/coffee, bed, shower. The décor is streamlined and understated apart from one room with an entire wall given over to a black and white photo of a donkey being given a pint of beer to sup (well, why not?).

The hotel element is run on a room-only basis by the amiable Rayone Marshall. However there are some great breakfast places in walking distance including Mess Café on Amherst Road. Here the endless breakfast combinations of pancakes, eggs, breakfast meats and vegetables make for a great start to the day.

The Hackney Empire deserves its legendary status for belt-it-out entertainment. This coming Christmas it will feature Dick Wittington and His Cat starring Clive Rowe “the doyenne of dames” according to the theatrical bible, Whats On Stage.

The Hackney Empire

Not many hotels, even in Cornwall, own their own 38-foot motor launch. At The Nare, a family-run “country house by the sea” the Alice Rose is available to guests three times a week in spring and summer.
Guests board the Alice Rose eight miles from the hotel at a jetty in Tolverne.  The cruise begins down the beautiful River Fal with lush vegetation on either side.  Hugging the coast the Alice Rose passes Falmouth and Pendennis Castle before turning up the Helford River to moor for lunch. The captain even invites you to a pre-prandial swim if you’re feeling hearty. The round trip costs £130 per person and includes drinks, house wine and lunch. Guests are back at the hotel in time for its famous afternoon tea.
Much about The Nare is remarkable. Every Tuesday evening the Proprietor and MD,  Toby Ashworth hosts a champagne reception for all guests and everyone is welcome to sample those Cornish Cream teas at 4pm daily. 

The Nare takes its name from the Nare Headland which stands to the east of this hotel on Cornwall’s Heritage Coast. These days the hotel has 40 rooms, but at its centre it feels like a big, comfortable holiday home, with a long sequence of rooms facing south on to the bay. Scattered throughout the ground floor are drawing rooms with coffee-table books, jigsaw puzzles, games, and a lot of modern art owned by the Gray/Ashworth family. There is a library for quiet reading with a varied collection of books that are genuinely worth picking off the shelves. Outside there is a heated swimming pool surrounded by subtropical gardens.  There is also an indoor pool for whenever the Cornish weather turns rough.

The hotel was built in 1929 with guest rooms facing the sea and servants’ rooms facing inland. In 1989 it was purchased by Mrs Bettye Gray, a famous hotelier in the area whose portrait still hangs in reception. Mrs Gray set The Nare’s high standards of customer service, and its commitment to original art. She famously claimed that she didn’t understand modern art at all, but she knew what she liked. Indeed she built a small gallery on the eastern end of the hotel to display her early purchases.
In 1996 Mrs Gray brought in her grandson, Toby Ashworth to run the hotel, and he has wisely retained many of Mrs Bettye’s famous idiosyncrasies. No one is asked for credit card pre-authorisation on arrival. No one signs for drinks either – the staff know who you are and keep their own tally.  Although tea and coffee facilities are available in each room, it’s best to order morning tea which will be  brought up to your room with the papers.

Bedrooms are still divided between those that face the sea and those that face inland. These days the ‘country-view’ rooms are an excellent budget option and are also useful as an overspill for a big family. Do whatever you can to get a sea-view room however, especially one with a terrace where you can spend an entire day admiring the view and possibly working on your tan. You can even arrange for a room service lunch to be brought up so you never need to leave. 

Trelissick Garden is west across the River Fal from Tolverne where you board the Alice Rose. It’s a National Trust property accessed by ferry. Various owners of the house have developed its luscious banks of rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, camellias, palms and flowering cherries. Trelissick is testimony to Cornwall’s super mild climate.

Trelissick Garden

In a narrow lane running off from Liverpool Street Station there’s a typical London pub called The Bull. It’s a tall, red-bricked building whose sign, beneath the golden head of a ringed bull proclaims that it offers “Pub, Dining & Rooms”. The bar, in stripped-back brick with leather banquettes, heaves amiably with local office workers on weekday evenings. If you’re staying in one of the ten boutique bedrooms above, you have to squeeze through the merry throng to receive your keys.
Guests have their own front door and their own very steep staircase which takes you up three floors with cheery signs written on the landings like “Nearly There” and “Take A Breather”. Someone from the bar may well offer to help you up with your luggage. My advice is to accept their assistance. Once in your room you’ll find a modern spacious suite in muted colours with windows overlooking Devonshire Row below. Some even have small terraces so you can sit outside and listen to the merry clatter and chatter of late night London.

You can get snacks of sorts from the bar, but the Bishopsgate area teems with eateries so it’s worth taking a walk if you want a meal.
The bar staff will advise you on where is best to try depending on your preferences. Anything is possible at any time of day in this part of London. It’s one of those areas for which the term “vibrant” was coined.
Back in your room there is no mini-bar but there is an open-doored pantry on each floor which has a kettle, coffees, teas, snacks and a fridge full of soft drinks and water. Just help yourself.
Rooms are named after local sights such as Bedlam, St Bodolph and The Church of Bishopsgate Without - as well as a Devonshire Suite and another named after the Hush Heath Estate in Kent. This vineyard provides the grapes for wines made by Balfour which owns a fleet of public houses across the south of England, including the Bull and Hide.

I always love this kind of traditional London pub. There is a good chance you’ll be woken at 2am by someone below declaring her love for a useless boyfriend who’s never treated her right, or the sound of bottles being collected on an industrial scale at 5am. But when you are finally awake, showered and dressed, coffee is available downstairs in the bar and there is a lot to go and see in this part of London, including the beautiful Leadenhall Market (a great place for breakfast) and the Tower of London.

Half a mile south of The Bull & The Hide stands Leadenhall Market. In theory this site dates to Roman times when it was an important intersection in ancient Londinium. Its current form as a covered market is dates to the fourteenth century (with some superb roofing added by the Victorians). Featured in many  films (including the odd Harry Potter film as Diagon Alley) Leadenhall contains a range of idiosyncratic shops but also many pubs and cafés.

Leadenhall Market

In Woolacombe on the dramatic North Devon coast the Watersmeet Hotel has recently won the Best Waterside Hotel Award from Condé Nast Johansen. Watersmeet itself is a famous Devon beauty spot where two rivers converge near the coast, but this the hotel is actually twenty miles to the west of Watersmeet overlooking Coombesgate Beach.

The hotel was originally built in 1907, possibly as a private residence, but by 1914 “Watersmeet House” was operating commercially. In the 1920s an east wing was added with a sprung oak floored ballroom on the ground floor and six extra single bedrooms – none of them ensuite - on the first floor. The second and third floors were added in the mid-1930s, giving a total of 40 bedrooms.

The subsequent story of the Watersmeet Hotel reflects that of many rural homes in England during the twentieth century. During the Second World War, the hotel was requisitioned for a Kent-based girl’s school, whose members were relocated on the safer west coast of Britain. In 1974 an outdoor pool was built, one of the first in the area. An octagonal restaurant was added in 1986. From then on the hotel remained virtually unchanged except that the number of bedrooms was steadily reduced to 24, as ensuite bathrooms became a prerequisite and smaller bedrooms were amalgamated into more spacious ones.
In the 1990s the ballroom was converted into an indoor pool now that the hotel also stayed open over winter months. Today the Watersmeet Hotel is a luxury four-star hotel with sea views across the waters of Woolacombe Bay. It also has its own private steps down to Combesgate Beach and is slap bang in the middle of the North Devon National Landscape.

Morte Point is a 16-minute walk to the North Devon cliff edges where
many ships were deliberately wrecked by coastal dwellers so they could pillage the sinking ship.
Its name translates literally as Death Point. These days tractor and trailer rides operate from the Mortehoe Heritage Centre to the point for visitors to view the Atlantic seals that live on the northern side of the peninsula.

Morte Point
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