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Evening at Combe House Devon
Link to image of Combe House Hotel in Devon Link to image of Combe House Hotel in Devon Food by the Master Chef's of Great Britain working at Combe House Hotel & Restaurant in Devon, UK Combe House's head gardener Link to Ken and Ruth Hunt Award winning staff at Combe House Country Hotel in the Southwest of England The Reception at Combe House Hotel, Devon Chopping wood at Combe House for the open fireplaces The Great Hall at Combe Hotel in Gittisham Food by the Master Chef's of Great Britain working at Combe House Hotel & Restaurant in Devon, UK The bell tower at Combe House, near Honiton Award winning staff at Combe House Country Hotel in the Southwest of England

‘In Top Best Foodie Hotels in SW England’

- voted by readers of FOOD magazine 2013

Somewhere Different, Somewhere Special

Combe House, Devon is a Green Tourism Business Scheme
accredited member with a silver award.

This means that we are committed to protecting and conserving
the natural environment and landscape in this beautiful part of Devon.

Green Policy
At Combe House Devon, we fully embrace our responsibility as an environmental steward and believe in developing sustainable practices as a leader in the industry. The hotel is thoroughly committed to reducing its environmental impact by actively participating in standards that are in harmony with the earth’s natural resources and direction through our green initiatives.

We recognise that our work may have a direct or indirect effect on the local, regional and global environment. We are committed to reducing any harmful effects on the environment and in working with reputable associations, we aim to understand, follow and implement best environmental practice where possible.

We encourage our employees, suppliers and guests to be environmentally aware through initiatives such as recycling and energy efficiency.

Our goal is to prevent landfill waste and improve recycling, by reviewing how supplies and equipment are purchased, packaged, delivered, used, and disposed of, whilst complying with all applicable environmental legislation.

Combe House Devon has a ‘Green Team’ which is responsible for moving forward with the ongoing action plan for the hotel.

Combe House Environmental Policy
• To provide a service which meets the needs of our guests
while striving to minimise the environmental impact of the hotel.
• To be considerate and fair employers to our loyal and hard working staff.
• To consider the wider impact of our operations on a local, national and global scale.
• To be equal opportunity employers.

Green Tourism Business Scheme LogoWhat is the Green Tourism Business Scheme?
The Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) is the largest and most successful Sustainable Tourism accreditation in the UK. By choosing to visit a GTBS business you are making a valuable contribution towards improving the local environment. You can also be assured of a high quality holiday experience.

What does this mean for you?
We are passionate about caring for the environment and ensuring that you have an enjoyable stay and experience. We'd like you to be aware that by choosing our business you are minimising your carbon footprint whilst on holiday and helping to conserve the natural and special environment here in East Devon.

Somewhere Different, Somewhere Special
2013 saw the 45th anniversary of Combe House as one of the UK’s first country house hotels and the 15th anniversary of our arrival at Combe House – a Grade 1 Elizabethan Manor set in 3,500 acres of Devon country estate.

For the past 15 years we have been committed to...'restore, revamp, re-introduce, repair, re-use, reduce & recycle', i.e. "Sustainability". Though when we arrived at Combe this was a word that was rarely reconised.

As an independent, privately run Grade 1 Elizabethan Country House Hotel & Restaurant in a spectacular natural environment that is so quintessentially English, we try our best to protect, enhance and cherish it to enable us to give to all who share it now and in the future.

However, we realise that sustainability is all about continuity - ideas and initiatives must never stop flowing.

The highlights of our recent ‘green’ initiatives include:

• Considerate Hoteliers Award 2011 - Best Green Marketing Initiative.

• Condé Nast Johansens National Award 2010 - Most Excellent Innovation in Sustainable Hospitality.

• Silver Award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

• Restoration of Victorian Kitchen Gardens to supply over 60% of produce required by Combe's Chefs.

• Creation of a Thatched Bath House alongside the Garden Folly in the woodland gardens.

• Refurbishment of all Master Bedrooms & Superior Rooms, Dining Rooms, Linen Suite Sitting Room & Great Hall.

• The upgraded fire regulation requirements on a Grade 1 Listed Building.

• Combe Cider-Making - re-introducing Tom Putt's Cider circa 1757, one of the staple industries of Devon
in those times using apples from Combe's ancient orchards.


Previous highlights include:

Lesser Horsehoe Bats

In 1999 we discovered other residents at Combe - Lesser Horseshoe Bats, a very rare species only found in the South West and Wales. As a consequence we installed bat dormer windows, bat doors, bat maps and Ken Hunt has a bat specialist who, along with her bat students, undertakes a count twice a year.

Numbers have risen and rare Greater Horseshoe bats have also joined the colony (even rarer). The Lesser Horseshoe Bat colony at Combe is now recorded as the ninth largest colony in the UK.

N.B. At that time Combe was in a sad and sorry state, both as a business and property. It was the discovery of the bats that gave us our first media and TV coverage and put us back on the media map.

Local, Seasonal Food

This really rose like a phoenix from the ashes after the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001. We were restoring the first kitchen garden at the time and unable to obtain any railway sleepers as they were being used for the animal funeral pyres.

Since ‘F&M’, the importance of tourism and rural industries working together has grown from strength to strength. We have always been strong supporters purchasing quality local produce wherever possible, but prior to this event supply and consistency were always a major hindrance.

Our two Master Chefs of Great Britain now take ‘local’ a step further. They seek out farmers nearby who believe in the ‘closed cycle system’ where the animals are born and bred on the farm and never leave until ready for the local abattoir.

Hadleigh Barrett and Stuart Brown purchase whole carcasses of lamb and pork, which they then butcher, using everything but the ‘nose and tail’; that’s real ‘farm-to-plate’ practice.


In 2008 we planted orchards and soft fruit gardens including the re-introduction of the ‘Putt’ apple, once hugely important as the basis of the Devon scrumpy industry in the 18th and 19th centuries. We make and sell Combe jams, chutneys and honey to guests.

2006 saw the beginnings of Combe's own apiary with two hives. This year there are eight three-storey hives which produce around 500 kilos of wildflower honey and of course the bees aid pollination on the estate.

Currently we are turning two large lawns into more kitchen gardens so the chefs can turn their food miles into 'food metres'.

We are major supporters of the annual Devon Celebration of Food and arrange a number of events at Combe during October and help to raise money for charities like 'Restaurants against Hunger'. We also support other charities both local and overseas throughout the year.

Combe has been awarded a number of restaurant and food and drink awards. Food and beverage income now makes up 75% of Combe's annual total revenue.

Kitchen Garden at Combe House Hotel and Restaurant in Gittisham, near Exeter, Devon
The Kitchen Garden at Combe House.
The 2 Master Chef's of Great Britain and their kitchen gardens at Combe House

The Georgian Kitchen

In 2003 we faithfully restored the derelict Georgian kitchen to its former glory including the old iron cooking range. There is no electric lighting, dining is by candlelight. It is regularly used for special celebrations for parties of 8–12 guests and is a prominent feature at Combe. Since its restoration, we’ve been able to increase our wedding party numbers from a maximum of 80 up to 150 guests by using it to plate-up dishes prior to service. We now generate around 24 weddings per annum on an exclusive use basis.

The Combe Bath House

In 2004, a derelict outside gardener’s washing facility was restored. It features a bath that provides guests with hot rainwater, collected from the roof into a water tank and heated by a wood fired boiler – Combe’s alternative to a hotel spa! Another unique feature of Combe House! Often used by guests and always of interest to visiting press who invariably request to be kept on our mailing list for news of latest events.

The Combe House Bath House

The Linen Suite

Once the totally derelict drying and ironing room at the back of the manor, in 2005, we faithfully restored the Linen Suite to become ‘our best room in the house’. We were very strict to ensure we complemented the old and historic with the new and contemporary style. We retained the huge drying rack, reintroduced shutters and old-style radiators, and commissioned a huge copper washtub which is now the six-foot-diameter bath. This room is a favourite for many regulars, honeymooners and brides and their entourage. It also generates interest in more contemporary lifestyle and women's media and has taken Combe press coverage to another level.

Combe Thatch Cottage

A romantic cottage for two with huge private walled garden, all of which were badly in need of restoration. This project was completed in 2006 and gives another strand to the


Combe brand. It provides our guests with a totally secluded hideaway where, if requested, a private chef can cook in the cottage itself. As well as for honeymooners and romantic breaks, it’s ideal for dog lovers with a safe and secure garden of their own. Another 'unique selling point' for Combe House that has generated a great deal of media coverage.

The House for Thinking &
The New Thatched Bath House

Hidden in the woodland garden, this totally natural construction is a wattle, cob and thatch folly. It was built by the Combe team and local artisan tradesmen in 2007, hand-in-hand with the ongoing restoration of the gardens, arboretum, greenhouses, compost pits, wood stores and wormeries. It provides a secluded hideaway with spectacular views for our guests to just sit and ponder, take tea or a G & T. We’ve also found it’s a perfect spot for couples to pop the question!

Combe's 'House for thinking'

Refurbishment, Restoration & the Rest

The Linen Suite and Thatch Cottage both have a detailed description of the materials and artisan tradesmen used.

This runs true of all restoration and refurbishment work undertaken at Combe House. We use natural products, wherever possible, despite the extra time, energy and investment required, ie natural fibres – wool, linen and cotton; wood, stone, slate, lime water and lime-based paint and distemper.

When we replaced the roof with slate for the first time in 200 years in 1999, we took the opportunity to lag the whole roof with up-to-date heat-loss prevention materials.

In 2008 the old inefficient storage tanks were replaced by a modern super-efficient boiler system which has seen our oil consumption reduce by over 30%.

Richard Adams & Combe Print Material

Richard Adams has been adopted as Combe’s very own artist. Over the last six years, he has created a pictorial history of our sustainable projects and each year we commission him to paint another story. We host an annual exhibition of his work in the Georgian kitchen and his pictures are on show on a regular basis around the house.

The ‘Picture of the Year’ also becomes our Christmas card, printed in the South West on 100% post-consumer recycled paper with vegetable based inks. The envelopes are also based on recycled paper, as is nearly all our print material, whenever a re-print is required. The posting of the Christmas card and hotel gift voucher brochure is now the only major mail-out of the year. This enables us to housekeep the database, generate goodwill (many now collect the pictures) and last, but not least, increase repeat business as well as generating new guests.

Incidentally, as a result of our insistence, our printer has now been converted to using recycled paper and print throughout his business, which includes a significant hotel chain and number of hospitality operations throughout the UK. This has also increased his revenue dramatically.

Richard Adams and his paintings of Combe House


Recent awards have included the following:

May 2011
Gold Award for Devon Hotel of the Year - Devon Tourism Awards

September 2010
Gold Award for Devon Hotel of the Year - Devon Tourism Awards

November 2009
Condé Nast Johansens National Award 2010 - Most Excellent Innovation in Sustainable Hospitality.

November 2008
Inclusion in 'The World's 100 Best Hotels' by the Sunday Times Travel Magazine.

October 2008
Inclusion in 'The UK's Top 100 Best Restaurants' by the Restaurant Magazine.

July 2008
Runner-up in 'The Readers' Awards Top Five Best Hotels in the UK' - Sunday Times Travel Magazine.

July 2008
Runner-up for the Best Website in the Hotel & Resorts Worldwide category for the Travel Mole website awards.

April 2008
Runner-up for 'The Small Hotel of the Year 2008' at the Enjoy England/Visit Britain Awards.

January 2008
'A Michelin Rising Star 2008' - for the second consecutive year.

October 2007
'The Small Hotel of the Year 2007/2008' - South West Tourism Awards of Excellence.



Our enthusiasm for history and restoring it to its rightful place for all to appreciate, while complementing it with a contemporary twist, has given Combe a very strong foundation from which to continue its development. To quote a headline from one of our very first press stories regarding the Georgian kitchen, “it has been a labour of love”. Sustainable projects have helped Combe House to grow naturally over the past ten years, born out of a love of hospitality and a genuine desire to offer guests “Somewhere Different, Somewhere Special”.


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