Seductive, self-sufficient foodie hotel
Part aristocratic Arcadia, part self-sufficient foodie hotel, Combe House is an immediately enthralling prospect, with Arabian horses frolicking in the grounds, pheasants strutting their stuff and a lovely summerhouse beside the increasingly productive vegetable garden.
The owners of this Grade 1 listed Elizabethan manor have also turned the old kitchen into a bakery and started to rear chickens, pigs and sheep as part of their dedicated enterprise. It's seductively beguiling and guaranteed to summon up whimsical musings about the good life.
Chef Hadleigh Barrett is well up to the task, taking his cue from the land and exploiting as many local resources as possible. A modern sensibility is at work here, pairing rabbit confit with pickled carrots and cumin-roasted hazelnuts, matching roast loin of lamb with a braised neck suet pudding, fondant potato and crushed home-grown swede, and getting the best out of prime line-caught sea bass (perhaps with wild mushrooms, soured cabbage and Gewürztraminer velouté).
There's also no dumbing-down at lunchtime, judging by effusive reports of brill with chard, baby fennel and lobster sauce, quail ravioli and a whisky-spiked pannacotta with raspberry jelly, honeycomb crackle and oatmeal crisp.
The subterranean cellars are tailor-made for nurturing a tremendous assortment of inspired global wines, helpfully laid out for food matching. Seasonal house selections start at £20 (£5.50 a glass).
Reproduced courtesy of The Good Food Guide 2012