Maidencombe’s Orestone Manor – a review

(Last Updated On: September 29, 2016)

Hidden away on the outskirts of Torquay is Orestone Manor, a boutique country hotel & restaurant with an interesting past. This family-run hotel with 14 character bedrooms in Maidencombe is a labour of love for two generations and offers a quality and relaxing experience.

With views of Lyme Bay across half a mile of open countryside, Orestone prides itself on service and good food and is able to present an intimate setting. While the bedrooms are certainly luxurious, a stay wouldn’t be complete without sampling the dining.

Run by two chefs, Neil and Catherine D’Allen, awards and recognition have stacked up for the Hotel’s restaurant which is popular with both locals and visitors. The Hotel offers food that stands comparison with anywhere in the area – ranging from full A La Carte Menu to tea and home-made scones on the terrace.

Indicating the high standards of the food on offer, Orestone’s restaurant has been chosen to feature alongside those from the region’s finest chefs in a new book. The 200-page food bible ‘Relish South West Second Helping’, looks behind the scenes at what it takes to serve the South West’s best loved, signature dishes. Headlined by twice Michelin starred Nathan Outlaw, it profiles unique recipes with an easy-to-follow exact ‘know-how’ for recreating dishes in a non-professional kitchen.

As well as existing awards and recommendations from Conde Nast Johansens, TripAdvisors’ Hall of Fame and double AA Rosettes for fine dining, Orestone has also just been shortlisted as a gold winner in the South West’s renowned Taste of the West Awards, for both hotel and restaurant categories. The awards ceremony is held in Exeter Cathedral on the 4th October, where the region’s no.1 gold winner will be announced.

The Hotel itself is worthy of comment as Orestone is associated with such greats as the British civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the painter John Callcott Horsley, best known as the designer of the first Christmas card.

In 1857, at Orestone Lodge as it was then known, Callcott painted a portrait of his famous brother-in-law, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. Brunel first came to Torquay in the course of his work as the chief engineer of the Great Western Railway. He then decided to bring his wife for a holiday and before long they were planning to make it their permanent home. He lived for a while at Watcombe Villa, and then moved to Portland Villa – later called the Maidencombe House Hotel and since demolished.

From these homes Brunel began laying out Watcombe to be the estate of his great house. He lived to see the park virtually completed but died before the house had got beyond the foundations. The present Brunel Manor was built there much later. John Horsley will be remembered chiefly for his family tie with the Brunels. From midsummer 1857 until midsummer 1858, Orestone Lodge (Manor) would have been the setting for many family gatherings, candlelit dinners, music in the parlour, children’s games and croquet on the lawn.

Incidentally, elephants seem to be a bit of an odd theme for such a hotel, with an interesting collection of elephant ornaments. There doesn’t appear to be a reason for this – happy guests just seem to keep adding to the collection!
More information on the hidden gem that is Orestone Manor can be found at:

Meanwhile, here’s a short video on the Hotel:


Kevin Dixon went to Audley Park – now Torquay Academy – and South Devon College when it was at Torre. After studying at Birmingham City University, he returned home because there’s nowhere else quite like Torquay. He then became involved in community and adult education, completed a PhD at Exeter University , and started writing about the weird and unknown side of town. He now Chairs Healthwatch Torbay and is involved in health and social care in the Bay.