Win two nights at Devon's Bovey Castle
PUBLISHED: 20:47 28 August 2015 | UPDATED: 20:49 28 August 2015
You have until 28 September (not 28 August as printed in the August edition!) to enter our readers' competition to experience the delights of this luxury golf and spa resort
Driving across the magnificence that is Dartmoor National Park couldn’t offer a better introduction to Bovey Castle, the former manor house that is now a luxury golf and spa resort and part of the exclusive Eden Hotel Collection.
My Reasonably Senior Mother and I had an even greater opportunity than most to admire the sweeping grounds and dramatic views, as we unwittingly found ourselves in the middle of a Smart Car Convention and part of a queue of little cars snaking their way slowly to their meeting point at the back of the house.
Once we’d managed to convince everyone that 1) we weren’t Smart car imposters and 2) we really were staying the night, all went swimmingly. Car keys and bags were whisked away, car parked and luggage stored, check in smoothly accomplished. It was time to explore!
We were there to witness the completion of the first phase of a five-year renovation project to restore Bovey Castle by new owner Eden Hotel Collection. The £2m restoration/refurbishment began in January, less than six months after acquiring the country house estate. The group’s substantial investment includes restoration work to the hotel and renovation of the whole ground floor, transforming the restaurant, bistro and all public rooms, adding a boutique shop and giving the spa a glamorous new Art Deco feel.
The Edwardian restaurant has been gutted and redesigned to introduce a Champagne bar, new panelling and luxurious soft furnishings. It has been renamed Great Western Restaurant in honour of the first owners who opened Bovey Castle as a golfing hotel in 1930.
At the other end of the hotel, the Castle Bistro has become Smith’s Brasserie, named after past owner and 19th-century entrepreneur WH Smith; it now boasts a fire pit at its centre, a ‘theatre’ kitchen and cosy corners perfect for couples.
Design and refurbishment work has been done by interior design practice NH Interiors, who worked with the Eden Hotel Collection’s own design director, Marian Cartter.
Eden Hotel Collection’s managing director Mark Chambers, said: “Very little money had been spent on the hotel before it was acquired by Eden Hotels, so it looked really tired. Bovey Castle is stunning and needed to be brought back to its former glory but we didn’t want to just redecorate, we wanted to make a statement and take the hotel into an exciting new era.”
The ground-floor renovation project is only the start of the investment, added Mark. “Bovey Castle is an iconic structure and it means a great deal to the Eden Hotel Collection to be the hotel’s new guardians.
“We now plan to renovate all the bedrooms and bathrooms in the main house, then move on to the lodge investment programme. We also intend to invest in the golf course as well as in the normal maintenance works on the estate.”
The ground floor, where we began our tour, is indeed spectacular and we were hard-pressed to choose a favourite spot where we could enjoy afternoon tea, in the end plumping for the Cathedral Room’s impressive charms, which include a minstrels’ gallery, ornate fireplace and a most covetable grey and heather carpet.
With our leaf tea blend of choice in one hand and a warm, freshly baked scone with local cream and jam in the other, views across the terrace to the national park beyond, life suddenly started to feel very, very good.
Because we were dining later in the Great Western restaurant, we hadn’t gone for the full feast but did admire other tables and their tiers of dainty cakes and wafer-thin sandwiches.
Both of us had booked in for treatments in the first-floor spa and I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Leanne Field, who gave me one of the best, most intuitive aromatherapy Swedish and Reiki massages I’ve every experienced.
MRSM meanwhile enjoyed an excellent ‘supplifying’ foot and hand treatment and was delighted that her therapist also found time to gently massage her neck and shoulders.
All relaxed and fragrant, we collapsed into the luxury of our Junior Suite, right next to the spa. Decorated in a pretty botanical green wallpaper, the spacious bedroom included two comfy single beds, a couple of armchairs and a sofa, a big writing desk, large cream double wardrobe and fresh milk on the tea tray.
The bathroom was spacious and well stocked with Espa toiletries but alas the bath (with shower above) had very steep sides and there was no rail, which makes it very difficult for the elderly and/or disabled. To be fair, upper floors haven’t had the ‘Eden touch’ yet and elsewhere access is good, with a spacious lift and broad corridors for wheelchair users.
Dinner beckoned, and we made our way to the sumptuous – we decided no other word would do – restaurant softly lit by six modern chandeliers. Crisp white cloths over heavy plum covers adorn tables, each with lovely fresh flower arrangements, candles and heavy silver cutlery.
Impeccable service from the largely Romanian staff manages to be both formal and friendly and I was touched by the attentiveness to MRSM’s needs: a walking stick picked up almost before it hit the floor, chair tucked in until it was just right, water topped up.
The food is exquisite, from an amuse-bouche of celeriac panecotta with a blue cheese beignet to an artful display of scallops with fresh, vibrant samphire to start, from local beef served with smoky char-grilled lettuce (a new favourite) to a heavenly warm raspberry soufflé with orange blossom honey sauce and goat’s milk ice cream, this was fine dining married with local produce at its very best.
My almost joint favourite experience – and a much-needed one after such a feast – was my early morning swim the following day, when I had the Art Deco-style pool to myself; all dark blues and greens, diamond-shaped mirrors and a fabulous, if misty view from picture windows. Ample towels, a sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi complete the picture; entrance is via a passcode.
A light breakfast from the lavish buffet – fruit, good coffee, toast and preserves – saw us on our way, car brought to the front of the hotel and bags neatly stowed without having to ask. It’s that sort of place: nothing is too much trouble.
Driving back home across Dartmoor, which was looking moodily mysterious in its cloak of light rain and cloud, what should emerge out of the mist but an elderly gentleman pushing a penny-farthing. Even more strangely, it felt perfectly normal.
Dartmoor had clearly entered our soul and I for one can't wait to return. But maybe next time in a bigger car.
Find out more
Dartmoor National Park, North Bovey, Devon TQ13 8RE
For further information about Bovey Castle, visit www.boveycastle.com.
Kent Life has teamed up with Bovey Castle to offer one lucky reader the chance to win the following:
● Two-night bed and breakfast stay for two people in a Castle Valley Room
● Three-course dinner on one evening in The Great Western Restaurant
● A 30-minute spa treatment for two people
Total prize value £950.
To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize, just answer the following simple questions:
Bovey Castle is situated in which county?
Write your answer on a postcard and send it to: Bovey Castle competition, Kent Life, Archant Kent, 81 Station Road, Ashford TN23 1PP. Don’t forget to include your name, address and a daytime telephone number on your entry.
Alternatively, you can send your answer in by email. Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, with Bovey Castle Competition in the subject line, including your name, address and a daytime telephone number.
Closing date: 28 September 2015
The editor’s decision is final. Any entries received after the closing date will not be eligible for entry. Travel to and from the venue, plus any other expenses incurred are not included in the prize. Usual Archant competition rules apply.
Prize is subject to availability and excludes bank holidays, Christmas and selected dates at the general manager’s discretion.
Prize must be taken by 30 November 2015.