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Bovey Castle Hotel 5.0

North Bovey, Dartmoor National Park, Devon

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • On 275 acres of private grounds within Dartmoor National Park 
  • Classic rooms in Neo-Elizabethan manor, and private cottages with kitchens
  • 18-hole golf course, putting green, tennis court, and croquet lawn 
  • Sporting activities from hunting to fishing and falconry
  • Indoor pool overlooking the river 
  • Two restaurants, with afternoon tea on an outdoor terrace
  • Full spa has a hot tub, sauna, and steam room 
  • Wood-paneled fitness room
  • Kids' club and playground 
  • Free valet parking and Wi-Fi
  • Dog-friendly

Cons

  • Rooms could use an update
  • Some complaints about hospitality 
  • Breakfast not included 
  • Fee for most activities

Bottom Line

A grand estate in Dartmoor National Park, Bovey Castle Hotel is a luxury retreat without the all the pomp that often comes with a stay at a manor with a pedigree. A sportsperson's dream, it's ideally placed for a country escape, and has its own 18-hole golf course. Hunting expeditions, fishing, and falconry are all on offer, along with croquet and tennis for those who prefer not to leave the yard. The 69 classic rooms could use some updating, but each has a lovely view, and private stone lodges with kitchens are hidden around the grounds. The service can be more informal than some might expect at this price point, but for most the relaxed atmosphere is part of the draw. The hotel is on par with Ashford Castle in Ireland; in England, Royal Crescent Hotel offers a comparably grand experience, but without the estate activities. 

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Scene

Historic manor turned five-pearl hotel and sporting estate

The lovely sporting estate, while not strictly speaking a castle, retains that regal feel thanks to its historic exterior

Built in 1906 by the Hambleden family as a country retreat, Bovey Castle Hotel originally sat on a 5,000-acre plot bought from the Earl of Devon in what is now private land within Dartmoor National Park. It's not a castle in the strictest sense, but its thick granite block walls and rooftop crenellations make it nonetheless imposing. The interior features a grand Jacobean staircase, with drawing rooms and vast halls covered in rich oak paneling. The Oak Room is particularly impressive as a lobby lounge, bolstered by a lordly hearth, and decorated with relics from the manor's past. The house served as a convalescent home for British officers during World War I and when the family lost control of the estate in 1928, it was converted into a hotel and golf course, which opened in 1930 (and then served again as a military hospital during World War II). Expansions made throughout the 2000s include a spa, pool, and private stone lodges, with a major restoration completed in 2015. 

The atmosphere is more informal than some might expect from such a grand estate, which is all part of the appeal. Think: Wellington boots provided for guests, beautiful log fires, dogs running about the grounds (this is a dog-friendly hotel, though furry companions are prohibited from restaurants and many common areas), and a healthy number of children (though the hotel enforces adult-only hours at the pool to help please couples as well). This is a true sportsperson's estate experience and not at all pretentious or stuffy. 

Location

In Dartmoor National Park, near hunting and fishing

Map of Bovey Castle Hotel

Located right outside the village of North Bovey, Bovey Castle Hotel is in the northeast of Dartmoor National Park, on 275 acres of its own private grounds (about half a mile up the road from its own gatehouse). The small town of Moretonhampstead is a 10-minute drive from the property, with Exeter about a 40-minute drive farther to the east. Its bustling, historic center has a main street full of retail outlets, bars, and restaurants, along with tourist attractions like the 11th-century Exeter Castle. The English Channel coast is about 45 minutes away by car, depending on the destination.

Rooms

Classic manor rooms and private stone lodges with kitchens

The Lodge Room includes a fully-quipped kitchen and dining area, as well as a living space separated by a stone fireplace

The main building has 63 individually decorated rooms, with a style that blends the history of the 1906 manor with its 1930 hotel conversion. Well placed Art Deco furnishings blend in with a quaint country wallpaper, equestrian artwork, and a few contemporary additions. Some rooms could do with more consistent updates, and many of the flat-screen TVs are older or smaller models. Single and Classic Rooms are on the small side with views of the courtyard or woods, while larger Castle and State Rooms add sitting areas with sofa beds and more impressive views of the countryside

Bathrooms have heated towel racks and while lower-tier rooms have shower/tub combos, upgraded rooms have walk-in showers and separate free-standing soaking tubs. There are also 22 three-story country lodges built with local granite and English oak. Each has an open-plan living space under vaulted ceilings with a full modern kitchen and a furnished balcony with views over the grounds.

Features

Indoor pool, spa, 18-hole golf course, kids' club, and outdoor recreation including hunting, tennis, and falconry

The hotel provides a range of outdoor recreational activities, including an 18-hole golf course, designed by J F Abecromby

This historic hotel's beautiful grounds on Dartmoor provide the backdrop for an astounding range of gentlemanly recreational activities, from hunting and fishing to tennis and lawn croquet. A daily falconry display is free to attend, though most hands-on activities require a fee (tennis, volleyball, croquet and petanque courts are open to guests for free). Hunting expeditions, and everything else from fly fishing to mountain biking to hot-air ballooning, can be arranged. Sprawling across the estate, the 18-hole golf course was designed in 1926 by J F Abercromby and has a club house and driving range. For children, there's an outdoor playground and the Playroom offers familiar kids' club activities, with supervision billed by the hour. Adults can try their hand at making cider and sloe gin in a rustic barn. 

The indoor pool is housed in a narrow chamber with a sun room filled with loungers at one end, overlooking an outdoor terrace and the river beyond. The Elan Spa at Bovey Castle has full-service treatment rooms along with a hot tub, sauna, and steam room. There's also a small, but elegantly wood-paneled fitness room with pairs of treadmills, cardio bikes, steppers, and a few weight-training machines. 

There are two main dining options, with the dapper Great Western Restaurant serving contemporary cuisine using locally sourced meat, fish, and produce. The more casual Smith's Brasserie does classic British fare (think fish and chips and English pea soup), and has an adjacent piano bar. Discerning guests can take afternoon tea, along with the customary cakes and scones, on the outdoor terrace. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property.

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Address

North Bovey TQ13 8RE, United Kingdom

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