The Stops To Make On A Road Trip From London To Cornwall This Summer

The Stops To Make On A Road Trip From London To Cornwall This Summer

If you're planning to escape the capital over the next few months, Emma Henderson rounds up the most enticing hotel, pub and restaurant stops to make enroute to the south of Cornwall and back.

/ Emma

For city dwellers, come summer time, towering buildings and masses of concrete, metal and tarmac can create what feels like an oppressive bubble of circulated heat. Instead, the best solution to beat the rising temperatures is to head to the south west and enjoy that cooling sea breeze.

Cornwall's coastline has long been the ultimate summer location, not only for its beautiful wide sandy beaches, but its excellent restaurants, extensive coastal walking path and laid back attitude. Its slightly lower temperatures and beaches make cooling off easy with a sea dip.

But the Cornish coast is on the opposite side of the country to the capital, and during the summer is the busiest time to visit, so roads can be busy and congested and public transport isn't the easiest way of getting around the county. So, breaking up the trip there and back not only means you get to see more of the beautiful south west, but makes it more relaxing too.

These are the stops to make on a circular road trip from London to Cornwall, taking in Somerset and Devon too.

The Three Horseshoes, Batcombe, Somerset

Chef Margot Henderson leaped her usual London location last year and opened The Three Horseshoes pub with rooms in the village of Batcombe in Somerset. The 17th-century inn has been completely refurbished and the five rooms upstairs feature the pub's original historic beams, a neutral color palette, and some well-placed freestanding baths that overlook the windows. The menu features her signature rustic dishes, like rabbit pie, and champions all that's produced in the nearby area too. It's still a local pub though, so as well as hotel guests, there are also those popping in for a quick pint, too.

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Glebe House, Southleigh Devon

Based on the Italian idea of agrotourismo, which is all about having a small restaurant to show off the great produce from your smallholding, and having a bed to stay in after eating, Hugo and his wife Olive turned Hugo's family farmhouse in east Devon into a beautifully welcoming B&B. But it's far beyond your average B&B. The interiors are a wonderful mismatch of handpainted wall wallpapers, vintage furniture, original artwork, and trinkets. Almost all of the food is either grown or reared on-site or comes from very nearby in Devon. Hugo trained as a chef and worked in London and is responsible for much of the food offering. Breakfast uses excellent bacon from pigs from the farm, and everything's cooked on the original farmhouse Aga. Aside from the farmhouse, there's a beautifully decorated little wood cabin, along with plenty of experiences from catching mackerel on the beach to pasta making.

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Hotel Endsleigh, Tavistock, Devon

Formerly an 18th-century hunting lodge, and the home of the 6th Earl of Bedford and his wife the Duchess of Bedford, Georgiana Russell, Hotel Endsleigh is set within 100 acres in the Tamar Valley and is a peaceful little snippet of enchanting English countryside. Brought back to life by hotelier Olga Polizzi – who also owns Tresanton Hotel in St Mawes – it is surrounded by woodlands and formal gardens created by Humphry Repton in the 19th century, which are Grade 1 listed, while there's also an arboretum, follies, a waterfall, rockeries, and a croquet lawn. Inside expect plenty of regency flair, along with original period design, including the great hall, plenty of dark wood paneling, huge fires, and a library. There's a real sense of stepping back in time but with all the modern luxuries.

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Coombeshead, Lewanick, Cornwall

Coombeshead is one of Cornwall’s best examples of field-to-fork eating. Set up by Tom Adams and April Bloomfield, formerly of the Spotted Pig in New York, provenance is truly at the heart of everything done here. Its famed sourdough bread – also made on-site, and is a must to take home – is used in restaurants around the southwest, as well as London. Of course, it features heavily in its restaurant too, set off the farm’s courtyard. Stay in the farmhouse or one of the other rooms for a stopover in the north of Cornwall, before heading further south in the county. Dinner is served in one of the converted barns and the menu is highly seasonal and depends on what's ready and in season on the farm, but their sourdough and incredibly Moorish Mangalitza ham will likely always feature. Lunch is only served on a Sunday, but whenever you're going, making a reservation ahead is a must.

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Trevibban Mill vineyard, near Padstow, Cornwall

Also in the north, but this time on the coast is Trevibban Mill vineyard. As well as making its excellent wine, including a rather fun pet nat, it also has apple trees and makes its cider. Book a guided wine tour then share some nibbles like Spanish olives and smoked almonds, or charcuterie and cheese boards over your favorite tipple. For something more filling after a glass or two, book a table for brunch or lunch at Barnaby’s restaurant also at the vineyard, which specializes in seafood and Middle Eastern flavors. It previously resided in the nearby town of Padstow and is owned by Rick and Katie Toogood, of Prawn on the Lawn restaurant fame (both in Padstow and Islington) so you know it's going to be good.

Idle Rocks, St Mawes, Cornwall

The picturesque village of St Mawes may be small, but it's mighty as it has some of the best hotels in Cornwall. Originally an Edwardian Inn, the Idle Rocks hotel is set just above the water and one of its best features is its south-facing terrace. Honoring the village's yachting history, many of the rooms overlook the harbor with its fishing and sailing boats, so guests can keep an eye on the waterside action. The hotel's restaurant has a seven-course tasting menu (as well as a la carte) showcasing the best seafood and local produce. If you're here more than one night, head to The Watch House for dinner, a minute's walk from Idle Rocks.

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Holm, South Petherton, Somerset

On the way back to London, break up the journey again by stopping in Somerset. If you've already done Bruton, then head to the nearby restaurant with rooms, Holm for lunch or dinner and somewhere to rest your head. Set in South Petherton, chef-owner Nicholas Balfe left London to return to his southwest roots and open Holm in a part of Somerset that didn't have anything like it. The honey-coloured building is a former bank and the old vault has been repurposed as the wine cellar. The food is excellent (the signature Westcombe cheddar fries are a must) and for the level of cooking Holm offers an affordable menu. There's a strong focus on sourcing locally, much of which is done between grower and owner. Upstairs, seven rooms opened late in 2023. Their decor replicates the restaurant's lime plaster and Mid-Century furniture, with calming neutral, and earthy tones making it a worthy stopover point in the journey.

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The Newt, Hadspen, Somerset

This countryside estate is something special and easily merits its trip as well as a stopover where you can easily spend more than a few nights. After a long drive, the spa with its glorious inside-outside pool should be the first port of call. The 17th-century Georgian manor house has been converted into a beautiful contemporary hotel which has kept its historic spirit. As well as staying in the main house, there are stable rooms and a self-contained gate house, plus the farmyard rooms just half a mile away.

Either dine in the Botanical Room restaurant (only for hotel guests), the Farmyard Kitchen, or the vegetable-led Garden Cafe. They all use much of their own grown produce including heritage varieties and their cider made on site. The impeccably manicured gardens are extensive with plenty of innovative designs to engage even the most reluctant of green-fingered people. Finish off by picking up your favorite goodies in the farm shop for the final leg home to round off a well-executed road trip.

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