Devon

Have a royally wonderful family weekend at Bovey Castle Hotel & Spa

Last updated 14th March 2024

When you’re looking for more than just a hotel, impressive Bovey Castle Hotel & Spa is one of the best hotels in Devon, as Natasha Harding recently discovered.

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Bovey Castle Hotel & Spa, Devon

Set in 275 acres of countryside in Dartmoor National Park, I knew we were in for something special the minute I arrived at Bovey Castle with my husband and 10 year old daughter, Lexi.

Being greeted by two valets, who took our luggage and parked the car, after enquiring about our journey, was a lovely welcome and set the scene for the rest of the weekend.

After an easy check-in we were shown to our rooms – The Chairman’s Suite no less.

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Suite, Bovey Castle Hotel & Spa, Devon

Rooms are enormous at Bovey Castle Hotel & Spa

We couldn’t have been happier with our accommodation, particularly as the combined footprint of our rooms was bigger than my actual house. And even though we’d just arrived, I was already dreading leaving.

A bottle of champagne on ice alongside a small decanter of sloe gin and a plate of warm cookies stood on one of the many tables. And once we’d worked out who was sleeping where, Lexi and I hotfooted it down to the pool for the first of our many swims.

The pool is open from 7am – 8pm, with family swims between 9am – 5pm. So we made the most of the time before Lexi was evicted, and I was able to enjoy a sauna and steam while she showered.

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Restaurant, Bovey Castle Hotel & Spa

Smith’s Brasserie was a delight for dinner

On our first night we ate dinner in Smith’s Brasserie, a charming space on the ground floor.

We’d requested a quiet table, as Lexi is autistic and can find the noisy dining rooms overwhelming. Luckily our corner table was perfect situated and, as the restaurant wasn’t too busy, we enjoyed a lovely dinner and everyone’s needs were met beautifully.

As you’d expect from one of the best hotels in Devon, the food, courtesy of Head Chef, Mark Budd, was delicious. Mark has a passion for creating menus that pay homage to provenance and everything was cooked to perfection.

The homemade sea salt focaccia was probably the best I’d eaten, and other starter choices included Mediterranean prawn and avocado cocktail, lamb fritters, and coconut squid rings.

I devoured my roast chicken breast served with sautéed gnocchi and wild mushroom, and Paul had fish and chips.

Unfortunately, we were too stuffed for pudding, although Paul treated himself to an Irish coffee.

The great thing about the menu is there is something for all palates: pizza, large plates including steak, burgers and pasta, as well as seared stone bass and slow cooked lamb rump.

The children’s menu featured the likes of homemade chicken nuggets and pasta.

Smith’s is also open for lunch and the salads and sandwiches would be perfect then.

Once we were suitably full, we went back to our rooms which had been turned down into night mode, complete with a chocolate on our pillow. It was the perfect end to a lovely evening.

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Off-roading adventures, Bovey Castle Hotel & Spa

Off-roading adventures brings out our competitive spirit

We had a busy day of activities planned the following day and after a delicious breakfast in Great Western Grill we were raring to go.

There’s so much to do on-site including clay pigeon shooting, archery, fly fishing, fawn feeding and Dartmoor tours.

We’d booked an off-road driving experience and at 10.30am we met Harry, our trainer, in reception for a drive to the track in the Land Rover, then it was our turn to have a go.

Paul took the challenge first and Lexi and I squealed our way around the track as we went up the steepest of hills and through huge puddles that our own car wouldn’t ever have been able to negotiate.

I was a bit wary when my turn came, but I’m pleased to report I did just as well as Paul – better in fact! And absolutely loved the experience.

The car was suitably dirty when we took it back, which apparently is a good thing.

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Shooting range, Bovey Castle Hotel & Spa

Lexi turns out to be a demon at the shooting range

Next up, was air rifle shooting, which is suitable for children over the age of 10. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, which Matt, our coach said was quite normal for mums.

However, I found the whole experience really therapeutic and it was nice to try a new activity together as a family.

Lexi was an absolute demon with the rifle, once she’d got the hang of loading it. And I also learned I have a dominant left eye. Who knew?

Matt set various different challenges for us all, so it became wonderfully competitive and there was a lot of laughter.

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Falconry display, Bovey Castle

Bovey Castle delivers plenty of fun for children too

As well as paid-for activities, there are a whole host of daily experiences that are ideal for children.

They can meet the resident chickens and ferrets each morning at 9am or watch a falconry display on the South Terrace which takes place at 10am from Sunday to Friday.

After the morning’s excitement, we spent the afternoon touring the estate in a golf buggy and enjoyed a bit more swimming, of course.

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One of the many lounges at Bovey Castle

The lounges are as lovely as you’d expect

That evening, we had a pre-dinner drink in one of the many lounges. The prices are not for the faint hearted, and you’ll also be charged a service charge, even if you go to the bar yourself to collect it.

However, as you’d expect from one of the best hotels in Devon, the lounges are lovely, and when you’re in a castle it’s only right to live like a Princess, right?

We dined in Smith’s Brasserie again that night and got to sample some different dishes from the menu, although Lexi stuck with her nuggets.

Then, after another wonderful sleep in our suite, I got up early to enjoy an hour in the pool before children were allowed in.

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Grounds, Bovey Castle Hotel & Spa, Devon

It was hard to tear ourselves away from Bovey Castle

It was so quiet at 7am and it was gorgeous to swim lengths with a lovely view of the Dartmoor reminding me why this is one of the best hotels in Devon.

We were a little subdued at breakfast as we knew our adventure was about to come to an end. And although I’d been able to extend our checkout to 12noon, I’m still not sure that was enough.

However, before leaving, we had another swim (my second of the day) and a final stroll around the beautiful grounds.

As we made our way, back down the long drive, I think Lexi summed up our weekend beautifully when she said, “Best hotel ever.”

Planning a stay at Bovey Castle Hotel & Spa

How to get there

Bovey Castle 15 minutes drive from the A30 and nearest airports are Exeter and Newquay

Where to stay

Bovey Castle from £239 per night, B&B basis. Lodges from £649 per night, self-catering, sleeps up to 6 guests.

Find out more and book Bovey Castle

Good to know

Off Road Driving Experience, £150 for up to two drivers, with four passenger spaces.

Air Rifle Experience, £35 per person or £120 for two adults and two children.