Try the activities at 5-star Devon luxury hotel
- Credit: Eden Hotel Collection
A magnificent country house hotel deep in the Devon countryside offers ANDY COOPER all the relaxation and activity he needs
What do you do when you discover your long-term partner may have all the attributes needed to be become a hired assassin? Head for the nearest bar ASAP and order a cocktail, I would suggest.
Thankfully, when this rather surprising news made itself evident in the form of my darling partner's skills with an air rifle, there was a bar immediately on hand serving said cocktails. And a luxury restaurant. And a leisure club. And a golf course.
And that’s because when ‘Target’ Tanya displayed her hitherto unknown prowess on the shooting range, we were in the beautiful grounds of Bovey Castle, enjoying a first-class relaxing and luxurious break.
I jest, of course. I don’t think she is going to use her deadly accuracy with an air rifle on me. Well, not this week, anyway. And if she did, I’d probably only have myself to blame. That or the charming and personable instructors on the range who passed on their skills and advice to us so readily and helpfully.
Bovey Castle is like that. Everyone there is about the service and the standards. Both are impeccable in this majestic hotel and leisure complex set within 275 acres of beautiful countryside and rolling valleys within Dartmoor National Park.
Originally built by the WH Smith dynasty in 1907 and first opened as a hotel in 1930 by the Great Western Railway, Bovey Castle is made up of 60 rooms and suites and 22 self-catering country lodges scattered within the estate’s stunning grounds.
We had a magnificent room overlooking the stunning sweep of Dartmoor hills rolling away from the grounds with the fabulous golf course right in front. It’s a testament, I am sure, to the popularity of the course that we always saw it being played by a number of golfers while we were there.
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In addition to the 18-hole championship golf course, there is a plethora of activities and country pursuits to choose from whilst staying at Bovey Castle. Experiences such as cider and sloe gin-making, clay pigeon shooting, archery, fly fishing and off-road driving can be arranged around the estate. Children will enjoy a tour of the Deer Park, carriage ride and meeting the chickens and ferrets, amongst other engaging activities.
The Elan Spa uses ESPA products in treatments which relax, revive and restore the mind, body and spirit. The Gentlemen’s Quarter is an exclusive retreat for the discerning gent, offering traditional treatments. I can be a little sceptical about treatments and the form-filling needed before partaking, but on this occasion when I mentioned a minor niggle in my knee area my massage therapist diagnosed the issue and treated it expertly, leaving me walking a lot better than I had on arrival. Sceptic me, no more...
The 60 individually-designed bedrooms are located in the original manor house and private mews and most offer sweeping views of the woodland, valley, gardens or Dartmoor. With the largest room at 93sqm, these spacious and well-appointed rooms are wonderful for escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Each of Bovey Castle’s three-storey lodges features three en-suite bedrooms, sleeping up to six adults and eight people in total. They are ideal for weekends away with friends or family, with full kitchen facilities, an open plan lounge and dining area, which leads out on to a balcony with views over the grounds. Having enjoyed our stay as a couple we were already planning a return trip with more of the family to stay in one of the lodges as we walked the grounds.
The hotel features two award-winning restaurants – the 1 AA Rosette Smith’s Brasserie, with all-day dining and a menu inspired by the Mediterranean. And newly opened this year is the Tasting Room, paying homage to the hotel’s history, with roots planted in classical cookery, recalling the glamour of the restaurant’s Art Deco origins and echoes of a bygone era.
Both restaurants take advantage of the local fresh produce available and include it on the menu wherever possible, from local game to lamb, aged Dartmoor Farmers beef and fish from the coast around the South West. Certainly, both our dinners on the nights we stayed were memorable and impeccably served, particular the tasting menu we enjoyed on our first night.
The offer of outdoor pursuits certainly fells like something of a ‘must do’ when in such amazing country surroundings and so it was we found ourselves learning to fly fish with an expert tutor in the morning, before the aforementioned shooting lesson in the afternoon. Certainly, the calm, relaxed manner of our instructors for both activities made it a pleasure learning. Next door to the shooting range, the whoops of delight from a family being taught archery made that a tempting option too. Fun is definitely on the menu when it comes to the great outdoors at Bovey.
But if you’re not the active type then what could be better than to curl up on a sofa in front of the fireplace within Bovey’s hallowed halls, read a book and relax? The choice is yours on how to drink in this proper Devon delight. Just make sure that you pay a visit.
- Bovey Castle offers rooms from £325 per night, based on two adults sharing on a B&B basis. Lodges are available from £750 per night, based on up to six adults sharing on a self-catering basis. A minimum of two nights is required in the lodges.