Glebe House, Devon: ‘The antithesis of big brand hotels’

Anna Prendergast pays a visit to Glebe House in Devon — and already can't wait to go back.

Inspired by Charleston in East Sussex, which poets and painters such as Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf and Duncan Grant treated as a live-in studio, the interiors of Glebe House are a serotonin-laced bounty of colour and joyful maximalism. It’s the antithesis of big-brand hotels everywhere.

‘My approach to design is similar to how I approach a painting,’ says artist Olive Chittenden, who owns the hotel with her husband, Hugo Guest. ‘Layering, adding, taking away until it’s just right.’

The age-old adage that you eat with your eyes first is true here: Olive and Ali Childs’ interiors invite you to knock back a shot of energy-boosting turmeric yellow in the kitchen, drink in the strawberry-milkshake pink of the cosy living room and feast on the ripened fruit of the William Morris wallpaper.

The real feast, however, is in the kitchen, where a postbox-red Aga is the heart of this seven-bedroom hotel in east Devon’s Coly Valley. Hugo grew up here; his mother was a cook and he took over the B&B from his parents in 2020, having spent three years training in culinary schools and kitchens around Italy and the UK.

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At Glebe House in Devon, guests may learn to make pasta with owner Hugo Guest.

Now, food is communal in the way that it’s sourced and served: shared tables are piled with seasonal, home-grown produce. At dinner, cook Amanda Acland proffers generous portions of piping-hot aubergine lasagne and profiteroles so big they might be mistaken for the petanque balls stacked up in the corner. Italian ingredients and cucina povera (‘the kitchen of the poor’) are a major inspiration for Mr Guest and his great passion is a Tuscan-style approach to curing meat.


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Behind the house is a potting-shed-turned-ageing-room and a ‘bakery’ lined with bread ovens and huge tables, where he hosts salami experiences and pasta-making classes. Despite being a lifelong vegetarian, when he tells me I must return for the mackerel-fishing experience at sunset, I can’t help but think I must.

Rooms from £169; four-course dinner £60pp — see to find out more.