‘I found the romantic cottage of dreams in Devon – complete with a hot tub’

As we opened the front door at Rose Cottage, we were hit with the gorgeous aroma of freshly baked bread and knew we were in for a treat.

The housekeepers set a breadmaker on a timer so that a piping hot loaf made using local ingredients is ready for you just as you arrive – that’s the kind of superb staycation welcome we all need.

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Nestled in the North Devon countryside in the idyllic village of High Bickington, Rose Cottage is a luxurious romantic getaway jam-packed with all the mod cons a traveller could ever need.

And, as my wife and I were very quick to enjoy once we arrived, there’s a hot tub to relax in within a private garden too.

From the moment you pull up outside the pretty thatched cottage – we didn’t have any trouble finding parking for the entirety of our stay – we were in awe at how beautiful the place was.

In the interest of full disclosure, I lived in Cornwall for three years and already happen to think that South West England is one of the greatest mini-break destinations on Earth.

And a long early summer weekend in Rose Cottage made me fall in love with the place all over again.

If you picture your quintessential English cottage, you’re already halfway to the jaw-dropping two-bedroom property. Both bedrooms are spacious, with wooden beamed ceilings, while the living room boasts a lovely brickwork open fireplace complete with wood-burner.

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In fact, if I had one complaint about the weather during our stay, it’s that it was always far too nice to whack the wood-burner on – I guess we’ll just have to book a winter stay.

Staff politely contacted us ahead of time to offer a range of different pillows for each room, to check if we had any allergies, and to ask what kind of music we’re fans of.

Strange questions, you might think, but once we’d settled in on the Friday afternoon it all made sense – there was a fresh chocolate cake on the dining table and a specially curated playlist set to play throughout the cottage’s Sonos speaker system.

That’s the attention to detail staff at Millbrook Cottages and Estate, who run Rose Cottage, are working to.

The cottage is only a five-minute drive from the estate, a beautiful 35-acre plot with two fishing lakes, five more luxurious cottages and even a herd of free-roaming alpacas.

When we popped in to take a tour of the grounds and feed the last of our specially-baked bread to the ducks, we were delighted to bump into owner Bob, a welcoming and gracious host.

If you’re staying at Rose Cottage and can bear to drag yourself out of the hot tub, it’s well worth a visit.

Other sites I’d heartily recommend include the Old George Inn, a proper countryside pub that’s impossible to miss from the cottage’s front door, and the High Bickington Community Shop, which is run by volunteers and is the true heart of the village.

Millbrook is proud to specialise in “romantic elopements”, and the immaculate grounds of the estate host intimate weddings all year round.

It isn’t hard to see why.

Over the next two days we struck out to explore North Devon. Going by the iPad-powered guide that acts as an in-cottage concierge, we opted to make the 30-mile drive to Lynton to try out the world’s highest and steepest fully water-powered cliff railway.

The tracks rise 500ft over their 862ft length and before we knew it, we were looking out over the Bristol Channel on one of the UK’s unique tourist attractions. With an idyllic harbour stretching out below us and the rolling Devon hills behind us, we stopped for a speciality coffee down by the water, and it was there we learned the history of the place.

Lynmouth was devastated when 34 people died in the worst river flood in English history on August 15, 1952 and was essentially rebuilt from scratch.

The remarkable story is told in full inside the Flood Memorial Hall on the waterfront and is well worth any visitor’s time.

With Lynton and Lynmouth in our rear-view mirror we made the short jaunt down the coast to Ilfracombe, where we decided to watch the sunset over the town’s historic Tunnels Beaches.

These are private access beaches only accessible through hand-carved tunnels built in the 1820s, and the attraction also serves as a highly sought-after wedding venue.

As you walk through the tunnels and start to hear the rolling waves and spot the clear blue sky awaiting you, you can definitely see why.

We were lucky enough to still be there as the tide came in, and thanks to our sensibly chosen position on the beach, got to enjoy the mad scramble up the slope as the oncoming water claimed beach towels and deck chairs without mercy.

On Saturday evening we took heed of a Millbrook recommendation to enjoy dinner on the seaside terrace at The Boathouse in Instow.

Over the next two days we struck out to explore North Devon, for which Rose Cottage is also ideally situated.

Going by the iPad-powered guide that acts as an in-cottage concierge, we opted to make the short drive to Lynton to try out the world's highest and steepest water-powered cliff railway.

Before we knew it, we were looking out over stunning vistas of the Celtic Sea on one of the most unique tourist attractions the UK has to offer.

With an idyllic harbour stretching out below us and the rolling Devon hills behind us – we stopped for a specialty coffee down by the water and it was there we learnt the incredible history of the place.

Taking in views of the crystal-clear water as we enjoyed the freshest fish and chips, it was hard to believe we were in England and not southern France or Italy.

It was a recommendation that thoroughly delivered, it has to be said.

And still, after all that, no matter how much we had managed to squeeze into our trip, it was back to Rose Cottage for one final dip in that hot tub to help ease our way into another glorious Devon day.


Millbrook Cottages in High Bickington, North Devon, offers a three-night October self-catering stay in Rose Cottage (sleeps four) from £644. Visitwww.rosecottagedevon.co.ukorwww.millbrookestate.co.uk.

You can also find out more at visitdevon.co.uk.

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