Great British Boltholes: A review of Mason's Arms, Devon

Great British Boltholes: Mason’s Arms in Devon is a luxury pub-cum-hotel where you drink in the views

  • Mason’s Arms, in Branscombe, has grown into a 28-room luxury hotel 
  • It serves locally sourced bar snacks and also has a ‘smart’ restaurant 
  • Head out to explore and you find three National Trust sites in the village 

Everyone loves the last few miles of a journey to the seaside, and the trip to the Mason’s Arms in Devon doesn’t disappoint.

You twist through narrow, high-hedged lanes before getting a stunning view of Branscombe. It’s a lovely village where whitewashed cottages appear like a string of pearls in a lush, green valley leading to the sea.

My destination is one of these gems. For centuries the Mason’s Arms was the village cider house. Recently it’s grown into a 28-room luxury hotel by buying up several neighbouring cottages. Guests find some rooms along footpaths or up steps through what were once private gardens.

Vallery vistas: The pub-cum-hotel has 28 rooms, some of them with fine outlooks from gardens

My room – No 17 – is the end of a row of thatched cottages on the hillside above the pub. The bedroom has spectacular views from a private garden with table and chairs looking over the valley.

Inside it is spacious, with a brown leather, deep-buttoned sofa, a big bed with comfy pillows and framed prints of garden birds. The modern bathroom has simple white brick-pattern tiles and a bath and shower.

I like the homely touches, which include a handwritten note pinned up by the door explaining which switch does what. And if I had any other questions, the owners were never far away. When I arrived, landlord Rob Peperell was digging in the vegetable garden while his wife Natalie served a customer who had arrived on horseback.

The pub itself is as idiosyncratic as the hotel grounds. The 700-year-old main building is a warren of rooms, staircases and passages with rough whitewashed walls, wooden beams and stone floors. In winter you get huge log fires. In summer there are thatched sunshades dotted around the garden.

Head out to explore and you find three National Trust sites in the village. There’s an ancient mill, a working forge and the Old Bakery, which serves cream teas in its orchard.

All of the rooms are different shapes, sizes and styles and can be in old cottages, outbuildings or above the pub

TRAVEL FACTS 

Mason’s Arms Branscombe, Devon. B&B from £80 per room. For more information visit masonsarms.co.uk.

A 15-minute walk along a river takes you to Branscombe Mouth, where the huge pebbly beach has a small thatched cafe alongside beach huts. From here you can join the South West Coast Path and strike out towards the next seaside village of Beer. You’ll be on the World Heritage Jurassic Coast with some very photogenic chalk pinnacles topped with tufts of green hedges.

The USP: Village pub that’s grown into a luxury hotel half a mile from the sea.

The rooms: All of them are different shapes, sizes and styles and can be in old cottages, outbuildings or above the pub. Some with private gardens are dog-friendly, others have four-poster beds and sea views. All have unfussy, country-house decor.

The food: Locally sourced bar snacks such as fish and chips or Dartmoor venison burgers. Or head to the smart restaurant for home-made fishcakes with saffron mayo, Devon hake or walnut tart. 

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