Nigel and Anne Way: A History of Hospitality

The Early Years

Anne and Nigel Way bought their first hotel in Sidmouth in 1979 whilst in their early 20s. It was The Little Court Hotel, a small and quaint hotel in Nigel’s home town. Anne and Nigel had a lot of help and support from friends and family at the beginning as they had no staff; Anne was the receptionist, housekeeper and waitress whilst Nigel was the bellboy, bartender and chef.

In 1982, the pair bought The Royal Castle Hotel in Dartmouth and over the next 30 years they set about upgrading the accommodation, kitchens, bars and guest facilities. After many years of hard work and local support, The Royal Castle became a corner stone for the local community and a popular destination for visitors and day trippers.


Five Higher Street, Dartmouth

In the early 1990s, Anne and Nigel decided to purchase the old Job Centre in Dartmouth on Higher Street. At the time it was a dilapidated but beautiful Tudor building in the centre of the town. They spent years restoring the building and opened a restaurant called The Exchange. The property was leased out and housed many successful eateries, including Hooked and a popular Thai restaurant. Until 2012 when, unfortunately, a fire started in a neighbouring chip shop.


The Re-Build of Five Higher Street

Forensic investigations concluded that the fire was caused by an electrical fault however the complexity and age of the neighbouring buildings meant that the flames spread rapidly through voids in the building. Fortunately, this all occurred at lunchtime and no one was hurt; all customers, residents and pets where safely rehomed. The fire burnt continuously for two days!

The property is now fully restored and is the location for two of our self-catered apartments, Merchants Rest and Merchants Rise. The original 13th Century facade was carefully maintained and the ancient plaster ceilings, amongst other original features, were all painstakingly replicated. The listed status of the building meant that it had be rebuilt exactly as it was originally - hence the strange staircase! The scars of the fire are still evident in the scorched window frames. 

Merchants Rest

Sleeps 4. A stylish two-bedroom apartment on the first floor of a historic Grade I listed building close to Dartmouth's shops.

Merchants Rise

Sleeps 5. A tastefully restored apartment within a historic Grade I listed building located in the heart of Dartmouth.

In 2003, Anne and Nigel acquired another old coaching hotel in Totnes, The Royal Seven Stars. This landmark hotel held fond memories for Anne as this is where she had her first job as receptionist and PA to the hotel manager. The Royal Seven Stars was in their ownership for the next fifteen years and became a pillar of the local community.

In 2012 the pair chose to purchase a The Luttrell Arms Hotel in Dunster, a little further away on Exmoor. It was another historic building from the medieval period, oozing history and character, and had welcomed travellers and visitors for centuries. At the time, the hotel was in administration and was looking rather sad. Ten years’ later, the hotel has a number of awards and accolades, and is now one of Exmoor’s premier hotels with twenty-eight well-appointed bedrooms, a Rosette award-winning restaurant, and well-maintained gardens. When staying at The Luttrell Arms, guests can enjoy wonderful facilities and book a spa treatment in the Mews Beauty Rooms, the newest addition to the Luttrell Arms. At the Mews Beauty Rooms, you can enjoy a relaxing massage, an Elemis facial or another one of our scrumptious treatments.

Not too long after this, and having fallen in love with Exmoor and the exquisite coastline, Anne and Nigel discovered the ancient Porlock Weir. Just a couple of miles beyond the village of Porlock.

It was another stunning location, close to the water’s edge with views across the pebble beach and coastline. However, the hotel was sad and had been empty for two years. It was calling out for attention! Formally The Anchor at Porlock Weir, the couple got the keys and set about striping it all back; installing new hot water and heating systems and all the mod cons. Finally, The Porlock Weir Hotel was born! It’s now a welcoming haven of tranquillity, popular with walkers and tourists looking to escape the hustle and bustle. The Porlock Weir Hotel has been open since 2018 and has garnered rave reviews from guests old and new who love the recent refurbishment.

The Beginning of Ways Away Holidays

In 2019, just before the coronavirus pandemic struck the UK, Anne and Nigel sold both The Royal Castle and The Royal Seven Stars to St Austell Brewery, a fast-growing, South West based company.

They chose to harness their experience in hospitality and passion for Dartmouth and the surrounding coastline, and start Ways Away. We now have a portfolio of self-catering holiday apartments which meet the style and high standards as you would expect from any of our hotels. Anne has always had a great eye for design and décor and feels that her life in hospitality is now about cushions and curtains! We hope to bring you more locations and properties for your self-catered holiday in the future. With still plenty of hard work still to be done at the remaining hotels, Anne and Nigel haven’t quite retired but hope to ‘slow down’.

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