Devon is one of England’s most idyllic counties, known for its stunning countryside and relaxed pace of life. It is also hiding one of the most exciting and unconventional boutique hotels to have recently opened; Glazebrook House Hotel, with interiors designed by Timothy Oulton. From the outside it looks like a beautiful old country house set amid three acres of picturesque gardens and woodland. Step inside however, and you are immediately transported into a fantasy world of splendid surrealism inspired by the adventures of Alice in Wonderland.
The hotel’s owners Fran and Peiter Hamman bought the property in November 2013 and engaged Timothy Oulton Studios to provide the full design, product supply, and installation services for a ground-up renovation, transforming the centuries-old Glazebrook House into a luxury boutique hotel.
Simon Laws, Project Designer for Timothy Oulton Studios, explains; “We really tried to recreate the atmosphere inside a 19th-century collector’s house; a fantasy where people can escape, somewhere people can have a unique experience”. Stepping over the threshold and into the hotel, a warm and welcoming space awaits.
The lounge is both homely yet filled with surprise and intrigue. Timothy Oulton’s flair for juxtaposing the classic with the contemporary is brought to life in the hand-softened leather Westminster and Mars chairs, sparkling Odeon chandeliers and military-inspired Airfoil desk.
A feast of textures continues with black marble, shiny steel, and exquisite vintage rugs laid upon rustic wooden floors. From here, an open doorway beckons into the friendly fire-lit Bar, exuding the air of a quintessential gentlemen’s lounge with its cosy tufted leather walls and decadent red marble bar. Eastbourne leather armchairs offer a comfortable respite over conversation next to the glow of softly lit Rod side tables.
A relaxed yet refined ambience comes alive in the Restaurant with round tables offering intimate dining. Leather Mimi dining chairs are mixed with tufted Chester dining chairs for classic comfort. An elaborate Florentine mirror, hand-carved from reclaimed wood, reflects the abundant light from the large windows. Shiny silver platters and blue and white vintage china cover the walls in a whimsical display.
With almost 900 vintage curiosities to discover around every corner of the hotel, there really is a feeling that you have gone down the rabbit hole into a world of fantasy. In the Bar, a purple wall is adorned with a display of magnifying glasses, revealing pages from Alice’s adventures.
Other walls are filled with rows of hats in honour of the Mad Hatter, collections of vintage musical instruments and antique English street signs. A flamingo and ostrich skeleton welcome you into the lounge, a large peacock silently listens to the chatter in the Bar while life-like owls greet you upstairs.
The nine fun but sophisticated guest rooms are named after characters in the much-loved books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, written by English author Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written in 1865, which is also around the time the original farmhouse was first converted into the grander manor. Huge framed 19th-century German playing cards stand watch over a sheepskin bed in the White Rabbit guest room, while in the Mad Hatter room doll’s houses are theatrically mounted above the Curved leather headboard. More creativity and quirky nuances await in the Jabberwocky, Tweedle Deez, Bread and Butterflies, Gryphon, Cheshire Cat and Caterpillar guest rooms. Luxury black and white bathrooms are anchored by mesmerising marble floors, inspired by ancient motifs to give a 3-dimensional illusion.
All of the furniture in the hotel is handmade and was shipped to the UK from Timothy Oulton’s artisanal workshops. Simon Laws headed up the entire project, which took just 6 months from conception to completion. He explains; “The company has fantastic resources and the ability to do things that are just not possible elsewhere. We have specialists in wood, stone, furniture making, upholstery, lighting…so many areas that we can pull together in a project like this.” A whisky and wine tasting room, library and fully equipped conference room have also been incorporated into the redesigned hotel, which opened in May 2014.