Bovey Castle Hotel, Golf and Spa Resort, Devon, England
- Romantic Golf Breaks: A stunning setting on the edge of romantic Dartmoor National Park; fine dining and wines; his-and-hers activities; old-world glamour and charm.
- Family Vacations: A wide range of outdoor pursuits; dedicated children's activities club with supervisors; separate dining times for children and adults.
- To view our photo gallery click here
Be King of the Castle in Glorious Devon
Describing Bovey Castle requires barely a moment’s reflection. It is the finest resort of its kind in Britain. Given a beach and a sub-tropical climate and arguably it would be the equal of the finest in the Europe and some way beyond. But even lacking these blessings, it is still a captivating resort.
In an age when crass is considered the norm and style is a rapidly vanishing quality, Bovey Castle is a très elegant example of impeccable standards, the stage for a by-gone era revisited.
It has every facility and attraction; its accommodations are second to none; it has peerless cuisine and incomparable service and the ambience is redolent of another, more gracious age. All this in a setting of natural splendour, viewed from a building that oozes elegance and good taste. You’ll gather from this that Bovey Castle is rather special…
Set on the edge of the Devonshire wilderness that is Dartmoor National Park and formerly known as the Manor House Hotel at Moretonhampstead, it was once the country seat of Viscount Hambledon, who built it in 1906. Latterly it was an hotel that had seen better times until, in 2003, along came Peter de Savary, fresh from similar endeavours at various fleshpots around the world. He set about a transformation that saw the huge estate converted into a oasis of opulence and lavishly orchestrated service. He re-named it Bovey Castle. The lovely old place has never looked back, or been in finer fettle.
The objective, happily achieved, was to create an ambience synonymous with the 1920’s, an era of prosperity, happiness and optimism that became known as the Jazz Age: Scott Joplin’s music is top of the hit parade in the hotels’ music system, the décor throughout is art deco, highlighted by oak panelling, hand painted silk wallpaper and ornately framed posters from a by-gone era. They come in every size and shape, from early holiday resort posters to Vogue-style covers and old railway, airline and tourist posters from all points of the globe. There are hundreds of them and they decorate the walls in a ubiquitous art gallery that’s said to have cost upwards of £500,000.
The public rooms, once tired and well-worn, have been transformed into havens of opulence and style. The 65 guest rooms and suites are simply sumptuous; the Edwardian dining room is a visual delight, the stage for a celebration of the culinary arts that is enhanced by views across the terrace to the golf course and the wildly beautiful countryside of Dartmoor beyond.
Needless to say, the transformation wasn’t achieved cheaply. A reported £30 million was spent on refurbishing the hotel, its estate and its gardens, including £2 million on up-grading the golf course. No corners were cut, no expense spared. The end result is a romantic retreat that is a joy to behold.
WHERE TO STAY
No contest, really. There is lodge accommodation available but eschewing the hotel would be masochistic. There are seven classes of double room, from Classic to State Suite, plus single rooms. All are sumptuous. The lodges: Tucked away around the Castle gardens a stroll from the main hotel are 14 private, granite-built, three-bedroomed lodges that make ideal accommodation for families and those seeking peace and quiet or a longer stay. All the hotel facilities and housekeeping services are available, giving all the benefits of Bovey Castle and independence, too.
Dining is part of the Bovey experience. The Edwardian Room is the principal restaurant and a visual delight with views over the golf course to countryside beyond. The standard of cuisine is all one would expect. The wine cellar, too, is exceptional and world class. Lunches, snacks and drinks are available at the Castle Bistro on the terrace.
ABOUT THE GOLF
The golf course, a feast for the eyes, dates to 1930 and was laid out by J.F. Abercromby, one of the lesser-known but highly respected names in the golden age of British golf architecture in which James Braid, Alister MacKenzie and Harry Colt were the figureheads.
It was designed as a resort course with no ambitions beyond offering guests a modicum of fun and relaxation. But it was always renowned for its condition and Henry Cotton described the long 14th as one of the finest par fours in British golf, with a couple of other holes not far behind in terms of challenge.
Piecemeal modifications in design were effected over the years but in 2003, when de Savary took the reigns, Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie were commissioned to undertake a major overhaul, to restore the course to its former eminence. Referring to the original plans by Abercromby, they succeeded admirably.
The River Bovey contributes nuisance value on the first eight holes but it’s a pretty nuisance, only a few yards wide in places. It may also be the longest ball washer in the world of golf and anyone who negotiates his round without raising a splash deserves to win the drinks and probably will. It's sheer bliss, a preview of golfing heaven and a golden bonus to an outstanding resort hotel.
Aside from the venerable golf course, there are 25 miles of salmon and trout fishing in the River Bovey which winds its way through the estate; there’s an equestrian centre, with lessons and trekking for all standards of rider; there’s deer stalking and game shooting; there’s falconry, two all-weather tennis courts and a grass court; there’s croquet, archery, clay pigeon shooting, quad biking and driving, hot air ballooning, nature trails for hiking and bird watching and a local crafts barn where ingénues can try their hands at cider making or fish smoking.
Services of a less esoteric nature are available in the spa, which offers holistic therapy in private treatment rooms; there are sauna and steam baths, a Jacuzzi, a hair dressing salon, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a gym, and a sun deck for alfresco relaxation.
ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN
Those with youngsters will find plenty of time for themselves: there’s a children’s club, known as the Bovey Rangers, that offers day-long activities and outings supervised by various experts; there’s a dedicated club room, child-special meal times and there’s even a baby sitting service.
Bovey Castle is in Devon, 15 miles south of Exeter and some 170 miles from Central London. Exeter has an international airport which accommodates private jets by arrangement.
Leaving the M5 at Junction 31, take the A30, sign-posted Oakhampton. Then take the first exit off the A30 onto the B3212 for Moretonhampstead (10 miles). Go through this town, keeping the White Hart Inn on your left, towards Postbridge. Bovey Castle is one mile further on.
Click here to see a local map.
WHEN TO GO
Late spring, summer and autumn are ideal for family holidays, golf, and the other outdoor pursuits available at Bovey. Winter weather can be agreeable but is often adverse. Christmas at Bovey would be a delight.
Click here to see average weather conditions throughout the year, and for a weather forecast for the next five days.
TIPS TO ENHANCE YOUR HOLIDAY
By Air:The nearest international airport/port is at Exeter, 15 miles away. Transfers may be arranged upon request.
Hotel Transfer: A Land Rover Discovery transfer to Bovey Castle can be arranged from any location in the UK. Please ask for further details when making a booking.
By Train: Intercity trains run hourly from London Paddington (from where express connections are available to Heathrow airport in only 15 minutes) to Exeter St David’s, taking just over two hours. The hotel will arrange transfers to Bovey Castle from the station.
By Helicopter: There is a helipad close to the main hotel. Please telephone advance notice of your arrival. A Land Rover Discovery will meet you.
Bovey Castle is situated in Dartmoor National Park, so getting around without a car can be difficult if you don't fancy a long (but beautiful) walk. If you want to leave the estate but didn't bring your own car, the hotel can arrange local transport at your request.
Packing Tips & Dress Code
Semi-formal dress is the minimal requirement for the Edwardian Room, that is jacket and tie for gentlemen. Ladies may feel that the occasion calls for something more special. Smart casual dress is required for golf and the usual specialist clothing for outdoor pursuits. Don’t forget the swim suits.
£ Sterling. For current rates of exchange, click here.
GMT or BST, depending upon time of year.
The country code for the UK is +44, and the local code for Bovey is (0)1647 (drop the “0” if dialling internationally).
Other Local Insider Information
There is a discretionary service charge of 5% on accommodation, 12.5% on food and beverages, 10% on transport, 5% on spa services and 5% on activities. No further gratuity is required. As you would expect, there is 24 hour room service and valet parking.
HOW TO BOOK YOUR VACATION
Request a Quotation or Use Our Recommended Golf Tour Operator
PGT can negotiate discounted rates and bonuses for our readers. Simply contact us giving details of preferred dates and your requirements and we will contact the resort on your behalf.
Alternatively you could
Book Through A Tour Operator
If you require a total holiday package including flights, transfers, accommodation and golf reservations PGT will recommend the tour operator who serves the resort or destination of your choice and negotiate any possible discount available.
Insurance isn't fun but it is both important and a sensible investment when travelling overseas (particularly when transporting expensive golf equipment). We recommend American Express .