29 Hip Hotel Bars in Devon
PUBLISHED: 14:21 18 August 2015 | UPDATED: 13:37 09 September 2015
Whether it’s a rose cocktail sipped in a deckchair on the lawn at Exeter’s chic Magdalen Chapter, a smoked creation at Tigermilk in Plymouth or a chilled en rama sherry propping up the pewter bar at buzzing Browns in Dartmouth, our guide guarantees you will be drinking at the county’s coolest bars this summer.
Its weekly Friday Fizz evening has marked out Exeter’s chic contemporary Magdalen Chapter as THE place to start the weekend and on a hot summer’s evening it’s easy to see why. The combination of deck chair covered lawn, large alfresco terrace and several indoor spaces, including the cosy bar and library, makes this an ideal choice for a rendezvous. Head bar tender Ben White regularly changes up the cocktail menu and this season he’s created some sensational summer sippers, including the pink Pitcher Perfect, gin-based Glen Meadow, as well as the return of the Pimms Martini, which was last year’s most popular cocktail. “We are tipping the Pitcher Perfect this summer which uses Lillet Rose and comes in a tiny water jug for one person, or you can get a sharing jug for up to four people,” says Ben. We’ll drink to that.
Magdalen Chapter Pitcher Perfect
50ml Lillet Rose, 25ml Strawberry liquor, 12.5ml fresh lemon juice, Shake with ice and top with a splash of Fever Tree lemonade.
Devon’s newest uber-chic boutique hideaway boasts a bar experience to rival any upscale London hotel. Owner Pieter Hamman has extended the Victorian collectibles theme running through the Glazebrook decor into the sumptuous bar area where an international array of premium spirits lines the shelves, ably used by resident mixologist Aidan. The hotel also offers tasting evenings in its wine room hosted by sommelier and Devon Life columnist Rebecca Mitchell and has an outstanding collection of single malt whiskies. Pieter says gin-based cocktails are still popular with guests and the raspberry rascal and cucumber and basil gimlet are two Glazebrook specialities. Some old favourites are also being rediscovered: “Sherry is making quite a comeback, there’s a trend for white port on ice and rum is seeing a revival.”
Glazebrook House Cucumber and Basil Gimlet
20mls sugar syrup with a dash of fresh lime, Freshly cut cucumber and basil muddled with the syrup, 50ml gin, Stir for 30 seconds and serve over ice in old fashioned glass.
With its pewter bar, relaxed seating and lengthy wine list, Browns Hotel has succeeded in creating a buzzy urban vibe down a Dartmouth side street. Owner James Brown has three cool thirst quenching tips this season. His first mission is to persuade customers to look beyond Prosecco to Method Champanois wines, such as Jansz rose. He’s also serving Brown’s killer cocktail the Muscato Cooler, a blend of muscato wine, lime and golden syrup served over ice with a mint garnish. “It’s served in a 250ml glass like a Mojito and is the best cocktail we’ve ever had, especially on a hot day.” Brown is also a big fan of en rama sherry, which is essentially an unfiltered “raw” version of the drink best served chilled with a tapas accompaniment.
Press the buzzer for entry to a twenties style speakeasy in the basement of this Plymouth hotel. Tigermilk has been running for just over a year and is packing in the punters through a combination of innovative mixology, live music and word-of-mouth cool. Co-founder Eric Chan says that smoked drinks are proving hot stuff this year with customers able to enjoy the scent as well as the taste of their tipple. A smoky flavour is imparted by putting woodchips in a bell jar or casket along with the cocktail. “We like to customise drinks and cocktails using molecular mixology so we make our own syrups and cocktails. A lot of research goes into the old classics, but we like to bring them up to date.”
Favoured by the A-list, especially local model Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley who filmed her Rosie for Autograph fragrance campaign here, Hotel Endsleigh occupies a supremely romantic position in the Tamar Valley. Hotelier Olga Polizzi designed the luxurious lounge and library in this Grade 1 listed former hunting lodge to emphasis the glorious views over Humphry Repton’s gardens running down to the river. With a well stocked dispensing bar off the library guest can take drinks on the terrace and parterre in the summer and snuggle in front of cosy fires in the winter. General manager Adam Cornish says Champagne and martinis are year-round requests, while the Endsleigh cucumber vodka cocktail and Sipsmith’s summer cup (as an alternative to Pimms) are refreshing sunshine favourites.
At the heart of historic and magical Dartington Estate sits The White Hart, recently renovated to include an impressive new bar area. Sip Pimms alongside famous authors during the annual Way With Words festival, which runs from July 3 to 13 this year, when drinking spills out onto the lawns, deckchairs and picnic rugs.
Known as a family friendly idyll in a chocolate box coastal setting, it’s certainly surprising to stumble across the sleek Bolly Bar in this hotel. “It’s an antidote to the rural Devon surroundings when you come into the bar. It’s an evening environment, urban, chic and sophisticated,” says owner Keith Makepeace. This summer grown-ups are enjoying European classic cocktails, particularly the Negroni.
Sister hotel of Art Deco classic Burgh Island, Southernhay House aims for a more relaxed younger vibe and has created a fabulous retro bar area which has become a Friday night favourite in Exeter. Owner Deborah Clark says they are seeing a trend for personal, signature cocktails. “Regulars may like their Caipirinha with a twist or their Sling with a tang of fresh lime.”
Pimms by the pool? Check into Woolacombe Bay’s Lido Bar, open during the summer months, and perfect for those who just want to laze on a lounger. And just off the beach is the Bay Brasserie, with a terrace overlooking the lawns and out to Lundy Island.
Drink in the expansive estuary views from this luxury hotel’s terrace while enjoying Champagne or classic cocktails. The Jetty bar and restaurant area has a laid back, beachy vibe, and the menu offers tasty seafood snacks to accompany drinks.
This award-winning boutique hotel and restaurant has updated its cocktail menu this year as well as offering a wide range of local beers and spirits. Restaurant manager William Bird tips the Tamar Twinkle (vodka, elderflower and Prosecco) or a traditional G+T made with Tarquin’s Cornish gin.
Infusion cocktails are a huge hit here, including An Unlikely Pear a fusion of crisp pear and rich and intense truffle infused vodka says Darren Beckett, restaurant manager. “We are loving a floral gin, such as a Hendricks, and to really summer the gin up, we are adding in some grapefruit or a traditional lemon twist. It’s all about the citrus!”
Learn to muddle like a mixologist with a cocktail masterclass at Boringdon Hall’s slick and extremely well-stocked Remy Bar. Or sit back on a sumptuous sofa in the oak-panelled bar and select from a wide variety of whiskies, fine wines, spirits and local ales.
The honesty bar at this stylish restored Devon longhouse with glorious views down the Teign Valley makes guests and visitors feel at home. With its hand-picked selection including ten bio-dynamic wines sourced from artisan producers, Plymouth or Hendricks Gin and Sampform Courtenay Warhouse cider, the emphasis is on provenance and quality.
This chic boutique hotel located on South Sands beach in Salcombe has a suitably upmarket wine list offering a handpicked selection of vintages from smaller producers for its discerning guests. The bar also mixes a variety of cocktails and the view from the terrace is pretty awe inspiring too.
Chosen as one of the world’s top 50 beach bars by CNN, the Cary Arms, brings a touch of the Italian Riviera to Babbacombe with its steep terraces spilling down to the sea. There are plentiful nooks and crannies for guests to enjoy a selection summer favourites including Pimms, Prosecco and local ales and ciders.
With gin having such a moment the Refectory Bar at the heart of Plymouth Gin’s distillery is THE place to go for a gin-based cocktail. One of its citrus summer favourites is the Gin Rickey: 50ml Plymouth Gin, juice of half a lime and top with chilled soda water. Add sugar syrup to taste.
Guests can learn to mix their own cocktails in a weekly class at one of North Devon’s most popular hotels. Most popular tipples in summer are Mojitos and daiquiris, with a fabulous view of Saunton beach as an added ingredient. The bar also serves its signature Saunton Lemonade made with fresh raspberries, lemon, vanilla and gold rum.
Sustainability is the watchword at Cafe Ode, which is part of the Gara Rock holiday complex perched on the clifftop coastpath and overlooking arguably the best beach in South Devon. Offering craft ales, organic and bio dynamic wines and local ciders there’s a large contemporary-designed drinking and dining space including an open terrace to enjoy the jaw-dropping views.
Winner of the Conde Nast Johansens Champagne Taittinger UK Wine List best value for money in 2015 this luxury boutique hotel on Exmoor offers drinkers an impressive choice. You’ll have to be resident to enjoy the goodies from the cellar at the multi-award winning hotel which has a philosophy of offering lovely wines at sensible prices.
Drinkers can chose from the luxury waterfront terrace, hotel terrace and lounge bar all with views of the glorious river Dart. General manager Paul Dowling says best selling summer tipples include Plymouth or Hendricks gin mixed with Fever Tree tonic and served in a balloon glass, Pimms, French rose and the extensive “by the glass” selection from the wine list.
The recently reintroduced cocktail hour is a nod to this sophisticated hotel and spa’s elegant Edwardian history. Watersmeet is so close to the beach at Mortehoe that owner Amanda James describes it as “floating on the water”.
“Where art and culture meet in magical surroundings” they say, and it’s true of this hotel, which is nestled in an extensive sculpture garden in a delightful setting. The bar offers culture lovers a taste of local favourites include Golden Pig Ale or Winkleigh cider and the Terra Madre restaurant has received many accolades from Devon Life among others.
Local craft and small batch gin head the premium spirit selection at this Wolf Hall era manor house hotel set in large grounds. Timothy Ede recommends chilled manzanilla and fino sherries as an aperitif and quality Prosecco from Jeio for summer drinking.
On the edge of Dartmoor, Moorland Garden focuses on Devon-produced ales, ciders and wines, including Sharpham and Pebblebed. With rattan couches and chairs on the fabulous sunny terrace and garden, there are plenty of spots to sit and sup.
There’s a lengthy bar at this family-run luxury Georgian hotel and a large terrace seating 40 people in the secluded five acre garden. Manager Nick Isaias says old favourites such as Kir Royale and Prosecco fly from the fridges in the summer and wine list with 50 choices is also popular.
Tucked around the corner from some of Dartmouth’s best restaurants, Bellini’s is a glamorous piano bar ideal for pre and post dinner drinks. Of course it specialises in the eponymous Bellini as well a variety of other cocktails.
It’s not a hotel bar, but this independent wine lounge has the perfect combination of one of the longest wine and Champagne lists in Devon and a lovely terrace in Royal William Yard. This summer owner Yannick Loue will be promoting four roses including Whispering Angel and Turkey Flat.
Not many old school gyms have been made into drinking dens, but the climbing ropes, vaulting horses and floor mats have been cleared away from this former Grammar School turned country house hotel and replaced with a cosy wooden bar offering a good range of local cask ales.