Boutique hotel charm in one of the UK’s most captivating cathedral cities
For a historic city break packed with diverse cuisine, retail therapy and spa rejuvenation, Hotel Indigo Exeter is a beautifully appointed four-star sanctuary at the heart of one of the country’s most beautiful cathedral cities.
Chic, stylish and just a stone’s throw from bustling bars, restaurants, shops and the city’s famous cathedral, each of the stunning boutique hotel’s plush 104 bedrooms has been inspirationally designed to pay homage to its surroundings, whilst pampering guests with such luxuries as Egyptian cotton linens and spa-inspired bathrooms.
A unique, indulgent haven of relaxation, our home for the weekend - a superb king suite with scenic penthouse balcony - boasted everything a truly exceptional hotel room should offer, plus elite extra touches such as 40-inch flatscreen TV, bright velvet cushions and a heavenly free-standing bath.
Perched on the pretty banks of the River Exe, just a short drive from the rolling Exmouth coast, the hotel has been cleverly converted to reflect its proud department store origins whilst mesmerising guests with magnificent modern charm.
Part of the IGH group of hotels, the moment you step inside, the unmistakable Indigo style shines through in furnishings, décor, welcome and service, raising the bar for a stay of distinction, time and time again.
Checking in on a sunny Saturday, we noticed a flock of people heading upwards, and following the crowd to the top floor led to a blissful, impromptu afternoon in Becketts, the hotel’s popular sun-trap champagne and cocktail rooftop bar.
Boasting panoramic city views out towards Exmouth Bay, al fresco ambiance and an eclectic cocktail menu, we picked a prime spot with the majestic cathedral in our eyeline, revelling in the panoramic hideaway’s animated atmosphere until sunset.
The perfect prelude to our evening meal, three delicious course followed downstairs in Colson’s Bar and Grill, where gracious service, elegant surroundings and authentic cooked-over-coals flavour made for an elegant evening’s dining with flawless hospitality.
From an enticing menu of delicious dishes expertly created with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, we settled on venison and wild boar scotch egg with black garlic aioli and pecorino, followed by a melt-in-the-mouth 10oz Dartmoor ribeye steak served with triple cooked chips, portobello mushroom, fire roasted tomatoes and creamy bearnaise sauce.
Taste buds tantilised, dessert of banoffee waffle with dulce de leche and banana ice cream was the icing on the cake, before a moonlit nightcap on our balcony made a memorable day, quite unforgettable.
Filling the tank afresh with a hearty breakfast - fresh juices, strong coffee, tasty continental pastries and an appealing selection of a-la-carte morning favourites cooked to order, we awoke refreshed, revitalised and ready to explore.
Stepping out of Hotel Indigo into the heart of the action on Catherine Street, a right turn at the front door puts you a moment’s stroll from the striking Anglican cathedral, a glorious example of decorated Gothic architecture and the largest religious building in Devon.
Attracting visitors world-wide to marvel at its memorials, original Norman towers, astronomical clock and collection of tombs, the beautiful building showcases astonishing stained glass and is home to the longest uninterrupted medieval stone vaulted ceiling in the world.
Once you’ve enjoyed a bird’s eye view of its 11th century splendor from Becketts, seeing it up close is well worth the modest admission fee, and just beyond its lush green lawns lie plenty of traditional pubs and inns for a sociable lunch with a heritage-rich backdrop.
When it’s time to change the pace after a busy day shopping and sightseeing, a relaxing Quayside saunter is ideal for rechanging your batteries by the River Exe, just a pleasant 10-minute walk from the hotel.
Charming, picturesque and the perfect starting point for estuary expeditions, whether you’re strolling along the tranquil waterside, browsing for antiques, taking a cruise along the old shipping canal or enjoying a bite to eat and drink in the confetti of lively pubs and restaurants, Quayside is a historic hidden gem and one of the city’s most scenic must-see attractions.
Flanked by lush green Devonshire hills, the thriving quay hosts exciting events, from live music to 10k runs, and is home to the 1680-built Custom House Visitor Centre for a delve into Exeter’s diverse past, including the remains of the imposing 2000-year-old Roman wall which once encircled the city.
A must for historians, popular Red Coat Guided Tours meet in front of the centre in warm months for a walk down memory lane, whilst those brave enough can go underground to hear intriguing tales as they explore the fascinating medieval passages that snake beneath the streets.
Renowned for sublime Indie and vegan eats, vintage clothing and retro records, we visited the vibrant West Quarter on local recommendation, emerging victorious from Locked in a Room, a mind-boggling immersive escape game, to enjoy live music, classy cocktails and a mouthwatering Italian platter at the bustling Bootlegger.
Early evening, with aching feet and a full camera roll, we succumbed to the lure of The Retreat - the hotel’s luxurious spa - for a rejuvenating sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and a muscle-soothing massage before heading to basement sports snug, The Dugout, for a tasty snack and to catch the match on its giant, ultra-HD screening wall.
Later on our balcony, lattes in hand beneath a blanket of stars, we recapped a fantastic first weekend in Exeter, hopefully the first of many we’ll enjoy on future visits to the thoroughly impressive Hotel Indigo.
Room rates from £125 B&B. To book call 01392 301801 or visit https://exeter.hotelindigo.com