A wellness weekend needn’t resemble a transformative detox or meditative mind and spirit renewal. Sometimes, simply going off-grid and recharging in nature can be equally life-affirming. In a bid to do just that – while marrying luxury with sustainability – I embraced electrification journeying to Devonshire’s enchanting countryside, taking the whisper-quiet BMW iX1 to The Pig at Combe.
Wanting to explore new horizons without compromise, the BMW iX1 felt the perfect choice. Performance-first while fully electric, it has a range of between 259 and 270 miles on a single charge and recharges up to 80 per cent of its range in 29 minutes.
As you’d expect from BMW it fuses tradition with innovation – boasting a commitment to craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology, making it a testament to the future of luxury travel. (Indeed, as my kids will attest, the Boost mode, which momentarily maxes power output, resembles the sound of a spacecraft taking off – which similarly ignited my imagination, being the only time the car wasn’t near-silent to drive.)
Super slick to operate and sleek while spacious inside, it proved both a relaxing driving experience and the perfect cocoon of comfort for days of exploration as a family.
For a road trip loaded with cultural richness, when driving from London you can cruise past (or stop off at) iconic landmarks like Windsor Castle and Stonehenge.
The journey becomes increasingly scenic as you near your destination, and especially captivating when reaching the charming thatched-roofed village of Gittisham – the gateway to The Pig at Combe’s fairytale private driveway.
With the vibrant rolling hills of Devonshire on your left, you past farmland on the right, spotting Arabian horses, wild pheasants, and Saddleback and West Sussex piglets within some of the hotel ground’s 3,500 acres secluded in the Otter Valley. Instantly my shoulders lowered an inch.
The Pig's high-end rustic charm and commitment to farm-to-table dining makes it an idyllic retreat for those wanting a harmonious blend of luxury and environmental mindfulness.
If your idea of wellness is living well, then you’ll excel here. Culinary journeys begin in the three walled kitchen gardens, where what you see on the plots make their way to your plates; The Restaurant’s ‘25-Mile Menu’ ensuring 100 per cent provenance of its ingredients. For lighter bites, The Folly offers garden dining at its finest (and most literal). And if you’re in the market for a massage or facial you’ll find the Potting Shed treatment rooms within the herb and infusion gardens, where Voya’s organic botanical products are harnessed to full effect.
The hotel group’s commitment to sustainability extends to electric vehicle charging stations, quelling any recharge anxiety I had. And the accommodation itself, from rooms in the main house (a stunning honey-coloured Elizabethan manor) to the secluded Stream Wagons, are characterful and chic. Overlooking a wild meadow, stream and orchard, we stayed in one of the self-contained cottages towards the neighbouring village to feel even closer to nature.
The area and activities
Just 15 minutes from the coast, staff at The Pig are keen to share inspiration for nearby adventures, from the bracing Branscombe to Beer six-mile coastal loop walk, to the seafront hot spot for oysters. There are plenty of National Trust properties nearby too (Killerton House, Seaton Wetland Nature Reserve and Bicton), as well as woodlands and wineries to visit.
Deeper into Devonshire – if travelling south – is Dartmoor, one of the UK’s 15 National Parks that boast outstanding landscapes. Happily, there are electric charging units here thanks to BMW’s Recharge in Nature project, an initiative assisting charging infrastructure in all the National Parks that helps to make off-grid travel more accessible.
What to pack (and the soundtrack)
Expect the unexpected with the weather, meaning layers, sunnies and waterproofs are daytime essentials, while smart-casual evening wear for dining is ideal.
While you won’t need wellies for a walk around The Pig’s gardens, when exploring the adjacent farmyard, I was pleased I’d packed mine. While it’s too obvious to tell a walker to bring their hiking boots or a runner to pack their trail trainers, equestrians might like to know there are local riding stables offering lessons that they could account for when packing.
For our journey home we had the melodic ‘Electric Feel’ by MGMT underscoring the road trip, alongside singalong crowd pleasers like ‘Seaside’ by The Kooks and ‘As It Was’ by Harry Styles. They'll forever remind me of the unspoilt retreat.
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