Castle Categories: 5 Star Castle Hotels, B&B Castle Hotels, Family Friendly Castle Stays, Dog/Pet Friendly Castle Stays, and Self Catering Castle StaysCastle Tags: Best Castle Stays in England in 2024 and Best Castle Stays in South West England (2024)
The very grand, 5-star Bovey Castle is a Dartmoor and South Devon institution. It has served as a luxury hotel for nearly 90 years now and still has oodles of old-fashioned British elegance and class.
It has a gorgeous setting too, by the River Bovey and Dartmoor National Park, and a vast country estate surrounding it that includes one of England’s finest golf courses.
They have 60 rooms at the castle, singles and doubles, and family rooms that can sleep up to four. Out on the estate grounds there are also several three-bedroom, three-bathroom, self-catering lodges.
All the rooms are spacious, comfortable, and well-appointed, with the style being modest, understated luxury. The colour schemes are demure and soothing, fabrics are soft and inviting, and everything has a whiff of early 20th-century class, despite the large flat-screen satellite TVs and Nespresso coffee makers.
Little touches include thick bathrobes, slippers, luxury ESPA toiletries, complimentary bottled water, and decanters of estate-produced sloe gin.
The estate lodges are a relatively new addition and therefore more modern in style, though not glaringly so. They are well-equipped and spacious and will probably suit families whose children might appreciate having acres of green grass and trees to run around in just outside the door.
The hotel is a large and very lovely building, and a joy to wander through. It goes back over a hundred years and has most of its period features intact; lavish staircases, huge stone fireplaces, ornate ceilings, oak paneling, and classic mullion windows.
The grounds too are stunning with nearly 300 acres of lawns, gardens, and wild woodland to get happily lost in and there are lovely views all around.
Check out all the details – prices, reviews, and more photos – on the booking page here.
FACILITIES & THINGS TO DO:
Facilities are numerous at Bovey Castle, their highly-rated Elan Spa Centre offers a range of treatments; classic massages, facials, pedicures, body wraps, aromatherapy, reflexology, etc.
They also have an indoor heated swimming pool (adults only in the morning and evening) plus a fitness centre/gym.
There are two quality restaurants here; the silver-service Great Western restaurant serves beautifully made and presented, hearty British food in a very glamorous old dining hall.
The breakfasts too are quite legendary here, with a generous and fresh buffet, and a wide range of made-to-order cooked options.
On the opposite side of the hotel there is Smith’s Brasserie, which serves classic English pub dishes such as fish and chips and shepherd’s pie as well as excellent steaks and burgers.
It behaves well as a pub too as the evening wears on, with a well-stocked bar and a friendly, sociable atmosphere.
The estate grounds cover 275 acres and contain tennis courts, an archery range, a croquet pitch, a putting green, and an 18-hole championship golf course.
It is also beautiful to wander around, with gardens, woodland and a lake to be explored, and you can enjoy activities such as horse riding, hot air ballooning over the estate, fishing, clay pigeon shooting, sloe gin making lessons and every morning they put on a special falconry display for guests.
Children will also be well taken care of at Bovey with all sorts of activities and games just for them. It is pet friendly too and dogs will certainly adore the freedom of the vast estate where pet bowls, baskets, bedding, etc. are all available.
Bovey Castle has a wonderful location at the western edge of Dartmoor and looks out onto miles of rolling wooded hills. Dartmoor is a 368 square-mile zone of peaceful wilderness and a tremendous place for long meandering hikes.
The nearest village, the gorgeously quaint, 13th-century era, North Bovey, can be reached by a roughly 20-minute walk along the river while the larger market town of Chagford, something of a secret culinary hot spot, can be reached in about ten minutes by car. Devon’s capital, Exeter, can be reached in less than half an hour by car.
A LITTLE HISTORY:
In 1890, the Conservative politician William Henry (W.H.) Smith, he of the now ubiquitous high street stationery stores, bought up 5,000 acres of land from the Earl of Devon, including the villages of North Bovey and Moretonhampstead, many farms, and much of the wild countryside that make up the present-day Dartmoor National Park.
What is now known as Bovey Castle was built in 1907 by his son Frederick Smith, the second Viscount Hambleden, as a private country retreat.
It was built in a lavish Elizabethan/Jacobean (17th century) style and became immediately known as one of the region’s finest manor houses.
During World War I, the house served as a convalescence home for British army officers and after Frederick’s death in 1928 it was bought by the Great Western Railway Company and converted into a hotel, with a golf course built in the grounds.
The hotel, then known as ‘The Manor House Hotel’, had a decade of paying guests before being commandeered by the government during World War II to serve as a military hospital.
After the war it re-opened as a hotel under the guardianship of the British Transport Commission. It would build up a reputation over the decades as a classically British country house hotel but like many of its genre it slowly became a little staid and tired.
That changed after it was bought up and renovated by the entrepreneur Peter de Savary in the 1990s and re-named ‘Bovey Castle’ in 2003. It has changed hands a few times since with many upgrades and new features added, always retaining its unique old-style ambience.
“Outstanding! What an amazing place to stay, The service was amazing, our stay was perfect in every way possible ! We will be staying again soon. Thank you to all the staff who helped and made our stay an experience we will never forget!…”
“The castle is stunning and the atmosphere and styling fantastic. The staff were very friendly. The restaurant was amazing!! The Spa hit the spot and the rooms and all of the lounge areas were stylish and classy. Highly recommended….”
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- North Bovey, Dartmoor National Park