Stylist’s acting deputy production editor Jenny Tregoning takes an exclusive first look at a quirky new hideaway in Devon
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: yes, it’s a giant beehive, and yes, it has taken all my effort not to litter this review with bee puns. But there really is nothing gimmicky about Humble Bee, a luxury cabin tucked away in woodland on the outskirts of Okehampton, in West Devon.
The human-sized hive is an architectural masterpiece made for two. Set over three mezzanine floors, the entire structure is open-plan – entering at the top via a gangway, you slowly wind your way down past cosy nooks, windows with views of nothing but greenery, and log fires (artificial, of course; the whole cabin is made of wood) to the tiny kitchen, shower and secluded outdoor bath.
Designed by sculptor-owner Yvette, it’s clear that imagination and thought have gone into every element: wooden crates have been repurposed as a bedframe, set at an angle at the very top of the building as if floating in mid-air; old cymbals have become light shades, and the outdoor bath has heated walls to prolong the blissful moments you will inevitably spend in it. The apian theme is only hinted at, with nods such as honeycomb mirror details and a welcome gift of a beeswax candle and mini pot of honey. There is no TV and no wifi: the aim here is to hunker down, put in some hours on that neglected copy of The Book Of Dust and properly unwind.
Despite the feeling of isolation, you’re only a 10-minute walk down the hill to Okehampton, with its independent boutiques, art gallery and Waitrose. The kitchen at Humble Bee – while bursting with inspiration for our ‘small kitchen ideas’ Pinterest board – is teeny, so you may prefer to eat out. A 15-minute drive gets you to The Dartmoor Inn for modern pub grub such as pulled duck burgers and pan-fried hake served with roast kalettes and an onion bhaji.
It’s tempting to hole up and never leave, but please don’t. The wilderness of Dartmoor is minutes away – you can hire bikes and cycle the Granite Way, an 11-mile route that starts at Okehampton station. And by car, Lydford Gorge, with its magnificent Whitelady waterfall and Devil’s Cauldron rock pool, is reached in 20 minutes.
Back at the hive, if the outdoor bath isn’t luxurious enough (run the taps well in advance; it takes about an hour to fill), there’s also a shared hot tub under an oak tree, from which you can watch squirrels darting around the twisting, moonlit branches.
Climbing into the fairylight-strewn bed at the end of a hard day relaxing is made all the more enjoyable by the strategically placed faux-fur rugs to nestle cold toes into. There are no curtains, so you are woken naturally by light through the porthole window. Light sleepers: bring an eye mask. And maybe ear plugs; another quirk of the structure is its noises – the creaks and squeaks come into their own under cover of darkness. These little peculiarities only add to Humble Bee’s charm, though. And there’s nothing quite like the buzz you get from spending the weekend here (sorry, couldn’t resist).
Prices start from £120 per night. To book, visit canopyandstars.co.uk/humblebee