Rachel Stretton enjoys the delights of a luxurious retreat in Devon

It’s not often you sit in a hotel room hoping the rain won’t stop. But there’s something about Orestone Manor that makes you not want to leave.

A somewhat wild and wet journey down rural Devon’s country lanes ended in a manor house that feels almost other-worldly; certainly a million miles from the stress of the workday week.

Perhaps that’s because of its history. The Georgian manor was the scene of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s National Portrait Gallery painting, created by his brother-in-law, Sir John Calcutt Horsley and, in the 1850s, it played host to many Brunel/Horsley family gatherings such as candlelit dinners, music in the parlous, children’s games and croquet on the lawn.

Sir Horsley also designed the first Christmas card at the manor in 1843. The manor’s neighbours are equally fascinating; Rudyard Kipling lived next door.

And this family atmosphere remains to welcome visitors. Today, the hotel is run by husband and wife chefs Neil and Catherine D’Allen, with their son Craig and his wife Laura. Each room is uniquely and beautifully decorated, with the character and history of the building permeating into the atmosphere.

So yes, we were pleased it was raining non-stop, giving us the excuse of bathing in the luxury and comfort offered by the hotel, the fluffy robes and slippers, the freestanding baths, the stunning sea views and endless nooks and crannies to curl up with a good book.

If you’re staying for longer, and weather permits, the village of Maidencombe is a beautiful place to explore, a stone’s throw from the coast path. And it’s barely a 10 minute drive into Torquay, with charming Brixham not much further afield.

Orestone Manor has charm, history and comfort – but it’s the food where it really excels. It recently won gold in the restaurant category of the Taste of the West Food and Drink Awards for the third year running and the meal we enjoyed is one that will stay in my memory for a long time.

From smoked duck, crab and salmon, through succulent venison and lamb to salty, tangy and satisfying local cheeses and a rich chocolate fondant (all washed down with generous servings of Devon wine and beer), the food is nothing less than absolutely perfect. Both my partner and I agreed it was one of the best meals we had ever had.

It’s not surprising then, that as well as the most recent Taste of the West win, there are existing awards and recommendations from Conde Nast Johansens, TripAdvisors’ Hall of Fame and double AA Rosettes for fine dining. Orestone has also joined other award-winning eateries from the region to contribute to Relish South West Second Helping, billed as the food lovers’ bible.

Executive Chef Mr D'Allen said: “Our passion for food is everything you'd expect in a hotel owned by my wife, and I - two trained chefs. With an emphasis on modern European food, our mission is the food we serve balances wonderful ingredients deliciously cooked, allowing the favour of the South Devon region to shine. This Taste of the West Gold restaurant award-win is testament to this.

“Being based in this idyllic part of South Devon, we are blessed with some of the country's finest and freshest produce available, be it delicious vegetables tied to the season, South Devon beef, West Country free range pork and lamb, local estate wild game, delicious Brixham Crab, hand-dived Torbay scallops and lobsters, dayboat fish, rope grown mussels – it’s simply incredible what's on our doorstep, be it from the Devon land or the watery seaside larder that sits on our doorstep.”

So that’s it: comfort, luxury, amazing food and a hideaway you won’t want to leave. It’s a little taste of heaven.

Orestone Manor, Rock House Lane, Maidencombe, Devon T: 01803 897511 W: orestonemanor.com