Royal Seven Stars Hotel, Totnes
Sat proudly in the centre of this quirky Devon town, at the beginning of its indie-packed high street that snakes up towards the old Norman castle, our destination this month is one that most of you will have passed at some point or another.
Independently owned since 2005, the Royal Seven Stars is a Georgian-fronted building just a few steps from the River Dart. It forms part of a small, family owned hotel group that includes two Exmoor outposts (Dunster and Porlock) as well as the original business that started everything off – the Royal Castle Hotel in Dartmouth. Together these four sister properties, overseen by Nigel and Anne Way, offer a diverse mix of historic locations, excellent hospitality and superb food and drink.
The forward-thinking team responsible for running this former 17th century coaching house includes General Manager Jon, Deputy GM Kerensa and Head Chef Martin who seem to be investing their time and energy in all the right places. In the last 15 years of private ownership, the family has worked hard to return the business to its former glories and gradually transform it into a quality led, community focussed venue full of warmth. An ongoing programme of investment and refurbishment has ensured the fabric of the building is able to support their ambitions whilst still preserving a strong historical feel throughout.
The eclectic make-up of the town’s population and the visitors it attracts provides plenty of year-round footfall. Step inside and you’ll be surprised just how spacious this old building actually is. The saloon bar has always been an Otter Amber stronghold and is where most of the action happens. With its traditional pub atmosphere, flagstone floors, wooden beams and glowing fires there’s a constant buzz – tables of friends chatting and drinking, families eating, relaxed mums sipping coffee. This is as much a daytime venue as it is an evening haunt. The stylish TQ9 restaurant and quieter, cosier Bar 7 complete the downstairs space.
With the arrival of chef Martin O’Brien from London in 2018 (his father-in-law has lived in Totnes for 40 years) the reputation of the food continues to grow. A revamped kitchen comfortably handles volume whilst also catering for the town’s growing number of lifestyle choices. Menus have been given a gentle nudge (vegans and veggies are well looked after) whilst the quality of Sunday roasts has greatly improved. In-house Barista training is paying dividends whilst the wine list keeps on getting better with plenty of tasty, entry level choices. This is definitely a food-led business passionate about buying locally – our mid-winter lunch of meaty pub classics left us totally satisfied with almost no room for dessert….. almost!
Head upstairs for weddings and functions, wine evenings and various fairs. They all feel at home in the Ballroom which helps to pull in different segments from across town. Each of the hotel’s 21 bedrooms are individually styled and finished with feature wallpaper and modern, contemporary touches. Totnes is a great base from which to explore the South Hams and Dartmoor beyond.
With plenty of style and character throughout, the Royal Seven Stars is a quality driven, independent business that has embraced cultural change and carefully reinvented itself to embrace the opportunities that have come its way. As they say in this industry consistency is key, but it’s the people here that really make this business shine. I’ll certainly be back!
The Royal Seven Stars Hotel, The Plains, Totnes, TQ9 5DD
Tel: 01803 862125