Live Like A Gazillionaire With A Stay At Huntsham Court
Live like the Queen for the weekend, with none of the stuffiness...
Think of quintessential Englishness, and a few things immediately spring to mind.
Incessant politeness, Yorkshire puddings, buckets of tea, FENTON, Man’s Not Hot, and big-ass stately mansions.
And while the former are all relatively easy to replicate IRL, the whole Downton Abbey fantasy is a tad harder to experience without a blue blooded relative or a Lottery win.
That is, until now.
Because after a weekend at Devon’s Huntsham Court, spent celebrating its 150th birthday, we’re here to introduce you to your next staycation - a hilariously beautiful, ye olde time mansion that is also bafflingly affordable.
Here are six reasons why you need to get your Hunstham on…
1. It’s remarkably chilled out
From the moment you spot the Baronial mansion nestled amongst the leafy grounds, your jaw will be perma-stuck to the floor. Equal parts Downton, Atonement, and Pride & Prejudice IRL, it’s as grand as they come.
With 5000 acres, 35 bedrooms (most have en-suites, obvs), room for 82 overnight guests, and countless grand halls and dining rooms that seat up to 130 guests for weddings and banquets, it’s pretty much the biggest non-skyscraper you’ll have ever visited.
But the most impressive thing is the welcoming, anything-goes, unstuffy vibe that current owners Damian and Chris have imbued the home with. You’d think that having spent six years painstakingly renovating it that they’d be precious about every inch, but it’s the opposite.
Not only are they flexible with the reason for your hire (weddings, murder mysteries, birthday parties, and private members’ retreats are all catered for on sliding scales of poashness), but after a warm welcome and tour, you’re left entirely to your own devices.
If you want to crank up the fire, whack on the Spotify, and dance around the grand hall until 6am, have at it. If you want a refined dining experience with Nanna, and bed before 10pm, then go nuts.
A flexibility that relaxing in a property fit for the Queen is rather refreshing.
2. It has HISTORY
Even before Damian and Chris took over the reigns, the property has an illustriously interesting past.
Over the years it’s seen Russian spies (timely), Douglas Adams (who worked on his book ‘So Long and Thanks For All The Fish’ there), raucous music label weekenders stuffed full of rock stars, Liam Gallagher (who filmed Beady Eye’s ‘Shine A Light’ video there), and - most recently - the Made in Chelsea crew.
You don’t get THAT in your local Travelodge.
3. Live like the gentry (for a weekend)
Chances are, you’ve never got to live the big swanky millionaire lifestyle.
So while you’re staying at Huntsham Court, you may as well go ‘full Lord/Lady’, and thankfully there are a host of additional activities you can enjoy during your stay.
We tried our hand at Clay Pigeon Shooting and Archery, and - who knew - it turns out we’d be pretty handy in a zombie apocalypse/The Hunger Games. Strap on your wellies, grab your shotgun/bow and arrow, and traipse out into the nearby fields for a spot of (vegetarian-friendly) moving target practice.
For those who are a little less shoot-y, there’s tons to do, too. Horse riding, Swedish massage, hair and beauty, bouncy castles, sumo suits, wine tasting, falconry displays, dancing lessons, helicopter tours, art classes, murder mysteries, casino nights (and more) are all options that can be easily tacked onto your existing wedding/party/shindig.
4. You will eat yourself stupid
That flexibility extends to the food options, too. Upon arrival, we were greeted by drinks, and then a late evening curry smorgasbord. Not something you’d traditionally expect upon rocking up to a Jane Austen-ish country manor, but eminently tasty and enjoyably surprising.
Of course, there are traditional catering options aplenty, and you’ll be stuffed and satisfied no matter the cuisine. We had the swankiest of fine dining three course meals in the Grand Hall to celebrate the manor’s 150th birthday, and it was a literal extravaganza.
If you’re looking to venture outside the grounds, we heartily recommend The Ginger Peanut, which offers a homely local village pub/restaurant ambience, with food that is above and beyond. One guy at our table declared the lamb the best he’d ever eaten.
Unbuckle your belt, and have at it.
5. It’s gorgeous no matter the time of year
A building that beautiful is obviously going to look gorgeous during the Spring, Summer and Autumn, but what’s most surprising is how stunning it was in winter, too.
We were hunkered down during the infamous ‘Beast from the East’ snowstorm, and watching the snow lazily fall outside, as the fire roared within was one of the most ethereal, enchanting and downright magical things we’ve ever seen.
Traipsing around the snow-blanketed grounds was also a delight, and with interiors just as amazing, we can guarantee you’d be happy no matter the time of the year.
6. It’s surprisingly affordable
Here’s the kicker. While it offers incredible Grade II* listed country house realness, their rates are flexible and - shockingly - affordable.
While there are a host of options to cater to every situation (low/medium/high season, weekday/weekend options, and the ability to rent out 19/27/32/35 bedrooms), rates start from as little as £68 per night per person.
Sure, you need 81 mates to make that a reality, but when you’re considering your next big blowout birthday celebration, wedding and family get together, it’s an incredibly savvy option.
Additionally, if you wouldn’t pay for it at home, Huntsham Court won’t charge for it - there are no extra charges for corkage, storage, function or handling fees, and you’re also welcome to bring your own booze.
Affordable opulence with a super-relaxed vibe? Not so Downton-shabby.
MTV Travelled With… Huntsham Court, who offer a series of accommodation options. Each hire includes five hours of event planning with a dedicated Huntsham Court event planner. We ate at The Ginger Peanut, and courtesy of Ceylon Curry, Peter Mundy Catering, and The Devon Pantry. Our activities included Clay Pigeon Shooting at the Shalden Shooting School, and Archery from Birds Hill Days.