The Royal Hotel
Why We Love This Hotel
- The hotel is part of the Brend Hotels group, which won the AA Hotel Group of the Year award in 2015
- Parts of the hotel date back to the 17th century -- it was once a courthouse and its old prison cells are still intact
- You can walk the Tarka Trail, which is right on the hotel's doorstep, or take a ferry to Lundy Island, a walker's paradise
The Royal Hotel is close to the river in the town of Bideford in Devon. The building was once a courthouse and prison -- you can see the old cells behind the ballroom -- and parts of it date from the 17th century. It is part of the Brend Hotels group, the AA Hotel Group of the Year 2015.
The hotel is a "short and extremely scenic" (The Daily Telegraph) stroll from the harbour and town centre. The historic Pannier Market trades Tuesdays-Saturdays, and there are antique shops dotted along the alleyways -- known locally as drangs -- that lead up from the bustling quay and river; boat trips to Lundy Island, a haven for rare wildlife in the Bristol Channel, run from March-October (see timetable).
The Tarka Trail, a network of paths and cycle tracks inspired by Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson, runs through the town. Deal Expert Michelle Brister recommends walking the Hartland Heritage Coast path from Instow towards Clovelly to see an array of hanging valleys, tumbling waterfalls and ancient woodland.
Hartland Abbey, a former monastery with stunning interiors where the BBC's adaption of "The Night Manager" by John le Carré was filmed, is 30 minutes' drive away.
The opulent Regency Restaurant serves traditional and contemporary dishes made from West Country produce. The Regency Suite serves light bites and cream teas.
Guests get free use of the leisure facilities at the hotel's sister property, The Barnstaple, which is around 15 minutes' drive away. It has heated indoor and outdoor pools (outdoor pool open April-October), two saunas, hot stone beds and a fitness suite.