Where to stay: Bovey Castle, Devon

A grand stately home in the Dartmoor National Park, formerly owned by the stationery giant WH Smith

With fields of green framed by forests as far as the eye can see, Bovey Castle offers unparalleled views of Dartmoor’s untouched beauty. Atop a grassy hill with the crystal-clear River Bovey meandering at the base, the neo-Elizabethan castle was built by WH Smith’s son in the late 19th century as the family’s countryside retreat.

Beautifully situated in 275 acres of private land, Bovey Castle offers 60 individually designed rooms and 22 self-catering country lodges, all supremely luxurious following their recent renovation by Annabel Elliot. The hotel is also a golfing hot-spot, with a pristinely kept course created by JF Abercromby in 1926.

With an abundance of countryside walks at your doorstep, dogs are welcome and are greeted with a gravy-bone at reception. More treats are waiting in our room – a squishy bed and a tricolour of chews for our much-indulged poodle, and a bottle of the hotel’s homemade sloe gin and fresh apples from the orchard for us. Other thoughtful flourishes include the provision of Wellington boots and wax jackets in the entrance hall, and walking maps in the lobby that point out the best local pubs and tea-houses. Bovey Castle also holds a falconry display each day, where you’ll meet its resident American bald eagle and acrobatic, smooth-feathered falcon.

The bedrooms are so inviting, however, that you may not want to venture outside. Swathed in sumptuous velvets and smooth cottons in shades of taupe, sage and warm grey, with panoramic views across Bovey Castle’s sweeping parkland, they are the pinnacle of good living. Large bathrooms offer indulgent ESPA toiletries, fluffy dressing-gowns and slippers – the ideal remedy to a long ramble across the Dartmoor terrain.

Breakfast at Bovey Castle’s Great Western restaurant is a real treat, as you might expect from a three-time AA rosette winner. From perfectly poached eggs on a fresh white muffin to crispy, sweet cinnamon-dusted French toast, each dish is as delectable as the last. By night, the Art Deco dining hall is elegantly candle-lit for stylish suppers featuring classic dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. Beautifully seared hand-dived scallops come with crunchy beer-battered clams and pickled onions with a salty oyster emulsion, while monkfish fillet is served Bourgignon-style, poached in red wine and garnished with sautéed wild mushrooms, smoked bacon and parsley.

Bovey Castle’s Great Western restaurant

For those looking for a lighter bite, Smith’s Brasserie has the atmosphere of a countryside pub. Curl up in a cosy chair or beside the roaring fire with a cream-topped hot chocolate or a glass of champagne.

The view from the pool

After all that indulgence, relax in the Elan spa, which reflects the castle’s tranquil surroundings. Housed in the orangery, the artfully tiled swimming pool overlooks the sun terrace, with an adjoining steam-room and sauna. Follow a leisurely swim with a reviving ESPA facial that will ensure you return glowing to the busy thrum of city life.

For more information and to book, visit www.boveycastle.com.



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