Being a sculptor’s daughter, while I was growing up I was surrounded by the bizarre. Quirky art forms followed you around the home: Random sculptures protruding from conifer trees in the garden, half finished ceramic pieces drying out at the breakfast table and even miniature art installations in the upstairs loo. Strange wasn’t really a word I understood. Weird was wonderful. My other half’s an art school graduate too, so there’s little wonder we were attracted to Broomhill Art Hotel, where art, culture and food meet in magical surroundings in what’s possibly the prettiest valley in North Devon.
Surrounded by woodland and its own stream, the hotel was established in 1997 by a pair of Dutch art dealers and bakers, who combined their passions for sculpture and slow food. Nestled at the top of a winding driveway via an enchanted forest, and as The Guardian reported last year: “…this hidden gem will delight hungry art-lovers”. Here you’ll find one of the largest permanent collections of contemporary sculpture in the south west of England. Firstly, there is the surprise welcome by a humongous red stiletto at the entrance of the Victorian hotel.
If you like, you can start with a coffee in the lounge gallery as you take in the smaller sculptures on display or hang out on the outside terrace with a cream tea or tapas from the bar menu.
On your walk up to the restaurant and around the wooded wonderland, you will encounter a diverse range of sculptures. We were actually quite surprised by the sheer amount of pieces dotted across the fabric of the landscape.
After an amble around the gardens, we moved into the Victorian building for our lunch. A pre-booked 3-course lunch, which includes a free ticket to the sculpture garden and exhibition, is £15. Or you can simply enjoy coffee or a cream tea on the terrace. Entry to the sculpture garden is usually £5. Dinner is around £26 for three courses, but the garden does close before sunset.
Beetroot cured salmon with herb cream (for me)
Crab bisque with prawns
Serrano ham croquettes
Duck pate with red onion marmalade
Penne with basil pesto and sundered tomato (v) (for him)
Aubergine, peppers & tomato with goat’s cheese (v)
Mussels and prawns in fish broth (for me)
Roe deer casserole
Duck leg confit with bean cassoulet
Lamb casserole with grilled fennel
Ox cheek with piquillo pepper & medium grilled beef fillet
Penne pasta with creamed aubergine and fetta (v)
Mixed bean casserole with piquillo pepper and grilled fennel (v) (for him)
It was our last day in Devon and we needed one last hit of clotted cream, so we asked whether it was possible to forgo one of the dessert options for a cream tea. The lovely staff were very kind and brought us our tea and scones on the terrace so we could bask in the warm autumn sun.