December 23, 2016

Dewsall: A Countryside Party Palace

I love exploring little nooks of the world and writing about different experiences on this blog; any chance to experience and write about a new adventure is my dream. After all, you cannot write if you have nothing to write about. Different locations, great conversation, new experiences and fresh ideas is always the dream for any writer. 

I’ve had another good year for travel and been fortunate enough to explore a lot of interesting places throughout 2016: a Shamanic retreat in Dorset; a hotel in Venice on its own private island; beautiful Lausanne; a cruise(!); a château in the Loire Valley hosted by Stylist magazine; the Fringe festival and a road trip up and down California.

I did not know that pressing “live” on this blog over six years ago in old bedroom in Devon would allow me to have so many adventures. I choose to review trips that allow me to tell a story, share an experience and pass on recommendations that are miles away from the daily stresses of real life. I avoid hotel chains with no soul, and I don’t think “5 star luxury” always means “the best”. I’m also a keen supporter of the “staycation”. We know that switching off has health benefits, both on our mind and body. I’ve pretty much made peace with the fact that I am workaholic, but instead of talking about work all the time, I’ve carved out a section of this blog to talk about switching off and pure relaxation, as it forces me to break away from career/work chat and focus on being still, calm and reflective.

So, I’m excited to bring you my final review trip (of 2016, more coming soon!) which was a very unique and magical place, Dewsall Court.

The invitation sounded intriguing: did I want to come and stay the night and attend the Fur, Fire and Ice party? The party would include a sit-down dinner in the barn at the end of the garden called Wainhouse Barn, a historic building used for parties and weddings, and we could stay overnight in a large country house which has 10 bedrooms. It’s not a hotel; it’s a reinvented family home that welcomes guests. You can stay with a few friends, getting married there, or rent out the whole property for a party. It is a Grade II listed property, built in 1644 and has lots of history to it; so I wondered what the vibe would be like. Could a huge historical house feel warm and welcoming?

The answer is yes. The first word that springs to mind is “homely”. After spending 3 hours on the train from Euston, then a short taxi-ride, we arrived at the front door and there was a pot of tea waiting for us, brewing by the Aga. There is a “help yourself” attitude in the house, making you feel like you’re staying in a friend’s home. We ate home-made cookies by the roaring fire and settled into the sofa, wearing slippers. Bliss. We were shown to our room by a friendly staff member who gave us a little tour. We had a suite with a big wooden chest at the end of the bed which we’d later learn could open with a remote control to expose a TV. The room had big heavy curtains, tall windows, a huge bed layered with display cushions and gorgeous antique furniture. But still, it felt homely and warm.

Next to the kitchen is a space with deep comfy squishy sofas, huge open fires and old lamps. Up the stairs is a big pool table, surrounded by comfy arm-chairs and a chaise lounge. You can’t help but feel like a very welcome guest at someone’s house. There’s always something yummy brewing in the kitchen, a fire on and footsteps. There is a good WIFI connection all through the house which is good, because the entire house is Instagrammable.

Winning Bath Tubs

I have never seen a house with so many incredible rooms, which all have a very distinct personalities. Each room was incredibly well-thought out, which different colour schemes and lay-outs. Each bathroom has a stand-out bath, a bath that makes your whole body melt just by look at it. My favourite was this red one (pictured below) which as you can see is incredibly deep and cosy.

A Place For Bookworms

If you like reading, this place is for you. There are so many gorgeous reading spots, big sofas, comfy window sills and a den in the basement. For me, being able to read in peace is a total luxury, maybe because in London I feel distracted by things, or you hear a siren go past every 10 minutes where I live. There was a lovely tranquility and people busying around so you equally don’t ever feel alone.

A Party Home With Style

A few minutes into the Fur, Fire and Ice party hosted in the family barn, my friend Charlotte and I felt like we were at a very cool wedding. Fur rugs, fairy lights, flickering candles and beautifully laid tables with ivy and name places, the room looked amazing. We were offered a glass of mulled sloe gin as we put our coats away and a band played acoustic songs. If you are looking for a homely private space that can offer weddings and parties…..this it it.

What We Ate

The four course dinner was incredible. Each course was delicious and perfect in size. The company was fantastic too, I sat next to the owners of Dewsall (Samantha and Julian) and had a really really enjoyable evening.

– Borsch with Vodka, Sour Cream and Chives.
– Potted Smoked Trout and Brown Shrimps, Rye Crisps, Pickled Rainbow Vegetables
– Ewyas Harold Lamb,  Blackened New Potatoes, Confit Onions, Kale Compote
– Hot Chocolate and Sloe Gin Puddings

We danced until the early hours and chatted outside with guests warming up by a fire pit. It was the perfect party.

Dewsall Court is available for both serviced and un-serviced exclusive use stays. Breaks are available throughout winter for up to 23 people.

To book your Hygge-inspired break please contact info@dewsall.com or call 01432 355058.

More here: dewsall.com

*thank you Dewsall for hosting us for this magical one night stay*

My Book

“In love with Emma Gannon’s Ctrl Alt Delete. So funny & smart, and reminding me of some of my own cringe teen Internet exploits!”

– Anna James, former literary editor of ELLE

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– The Debrief

“Emma Gannon is a bright spark of light in the world. I seriously dig everything she makes”

– Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Big Magic