Written by Yanna Papaioannou
For me, it’s not just about a luxurious stay in a B&B in the English countryside. You’ve got to earn it. Or at least, that’s what I believe. Perhaps it’s my German upbringing. Nothing’s for granted. You’ve got to work hard!
It’s my 3rd event with Endurance Life: my motivation for having a good weekend-break in a part of England that’s famed for its outstanding Natural Beauty. Yes,we are on National Trust territory. The company that came up with the idea while at a pub in South Devon, are on their 8th successful year. ‘Endurance Life’ organizes running events across the country ranging from coastal tracks to coast to coast and ultra-marathons as well as mixed events for those who are brave enough to swim (in the UK), cycle and run for miles.
I run. I decided off-road running is demanding so let’s start with 10K as opposed to Half Marathons which I have also done but on a flat surface. This time was South Devon and Beesands, where it all started. The event organizers always recommend B&Bs which are very nice but get often booked up early. They’re good value and close to the venue. In my 20+ years in the UK, I have come to realize that the English don’t like to overspend when it comes to accommodation. It could also be because of the whole ‘ethos’ around running, and being in nature which contradicts itself perhaps when indulging in luxury and spending £200 pounds on a room when you’re in the middle of nowhere. Why pay London prices when you are in Devon, you might ask.
I agree with all that but I think differently. I love interior design and architecture. One of my personal motivations behind Endurance Life Events is my hunt down of the best B&B the location can offer. Don’t misunderstand me. I love the simplicity of NZ mountain huts while at the same time appreciate top-notch accommodation. There is always a time and a place. When it comes to Beesands and South Devon I have to say it’s The WhiteHouse Hotel in Chillington.
When I first got here – my first time in the area – I went passed it. It was impossible to spot. Tiny lane, no sign. Turns out there was a sign but really, really small. The place looked grubby from the back. I thought to myself there and then: I’ve been taken for a ride here. This place sucks and I’ve just committed to £400. I rang the hotel and this very polite, Eastern European sounding lady (I shouldn’t been making assumptions), said it is the white building on the corner and if you really look closely it says ‘Whitehouse hotel’. She was right, I was parked just outside it. There was a tiny lane right next to it which looked big enough for a horse carriage but not a car. I was driving a Clio so let’s face it, it isn’t that much wider than a horse carriage. 🙂
Finally I got to the guest car park (a barn with gravel) and the magnificent Georgian villa made itself present. It was white all right and very grand with manicured gardens and beautiful, sculptural looking trees.
The woman at the bar was awesome. I felt at home straight away. No bullshitting. Just straight forward hospitality. And what a Pinot Noir she was serving; her personal favourite all the way from Austria!? Have you ever heard of a Pinot Noir from Austria? Well, neither had I but you’re in for a treat and it’s certified Organic too. For those who care as much as I do: MEINKLANG Pinot Noir 09. Estate bottled by Weingut Michlits W. GmbH.
Log fires going in both rooms, exquisite furniture and lighting everywhere; the chandelier by the staircase was one I marveled in Interior Design magazines while living in NZ but was never quite ready to spend that amount of money for a lamp. I was glad someone did so I could enjoy looking on my way to bed.
They have 6 beautiful country-inspired luxury rooms. I had room 4 and I chose it because it had a big, claw bath inside the bedroom and a beautiful 4-poster bed. I figured, before and after 10K a good soak and a decent night’s sleep are a must. I hear there is a bigger and even better room. Perhaps for that special night with someone (splitting the costs)!
The pictures speak for themselves. Both, Endurance life and Whitehouse Hotel come from an idea that has sparked off between friends while having a good time. I admire them both for making a success of that vision and by staying true to themselves. There’s no better recipe for success than offering something you’d like to experience yourself if only you had the drive, imagination, courage, discipline, business plan and money to make it a reality for others to enjoy and feel inspired by.
Photographs by Yanna Papaioannou