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‘Austere on the surface, welcoming on the within’: The Mail’s Inspector reviews Devon’s Bovey Castle

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The Inspector calls at Bovey Castle in Devon and says that while’s it’s austere on the surface, it’s welcoming on the within with ‘the most important inglenook fireplace you may ever encounter’

  • Bovey Castle was built by the son of William Henry Smith of WHSmith fame, reveals the Inspector
  • ‘It’s a correct resort,’ he declares. Activities on offer include golf, tennis, archery and clay pigeon shooting
  • Inside there are 60 rooms and two restaurants, with the massive fireplace situated within the ‘Cathedral Room’ 
  • Remember, the Inspector pays his way… and tells it prefer it is

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Quite a welcoming committee awaits as we arrive at Bovey Castle on the sting of Dartmoor National Park. On closer inspection, the dozen or so casually dressed men standing by the doorway to this baronial former stately in Devon have just accomplished their round of golf and are about to embark on a number of rounds within the bar.

‘Come on in,’ says one. It’s early evening and this extraordinary home is bathed in sunlight. It looks Elizabethan but was, in reality, built on the turn of the twentieth century by the son of William Henry Smith of WHSmith fame. Peter de Savary owned it for some time but since 2014 it’s been a part of the Eden Hotel Collection.

From the surface, it’s austere; inside you’re made to feel welcome and there’s lots happening. The golf course surrounds the home and down within the valley there’s fly fishing, clay pigeon shooting, horse carriage rides, tennis, a deer park, archery. A correct resort.

Bovey Castle looks Elizabethan, says the Inspector, but was built on the turn of the twentieth century by the son of William Henry Smith of WHSmith fame

Pictured above is the Cathedral Room at Bovey Castle, which contains 'the biggest inglenook fireplace you’re ever likely to encounter'

Pictured above is the Cathedral Room at Bovey Castle, which incorporates ‘the most important inglenook fireplace you’re ever prone to encounter’

The noticeboard near the front door, carries an inventory of activities. We’ve just missed a falconry display and the ‘meet the ferrets and chickens’ experience.

Our room doesn’t have the very best of views (we’re paying £410 for dinner, bed and breakfast) nevertheless it’s extremely comfortable in an old-fashioned form of way, with carpet, pelmets and huge bathroom with its own window.

There are only 60 rooms so there’s an ideal sense of space. There are two large restaurants at either ends of the constructing — one for lunch and dinner, the opposite for breakfast — and the wood-panelled Cathedral Room near reception has the most important inglenook fireplace you’re ever prone to encounter.

There are only 60 rooms at Bovey Castle, notes the Inspector, 'so there's a great sense of space'

There are only 60 rooms at Bovey Castle, notes the Inspector, ‘so there’s an ideal sense of space’

There are two large restaurants at either ends of the building — one for lunch and dinner, the other for breakfast

There are two large restaurants at either ends of the constructing — one for lunch and dinner, the opposite for breakfast

A golf course surrounds Bovey Castle and down in the valley there’s fly fishing, clay pigeon shooting, horse carriage rides, tennis, a deer park (above), and archery

A golf course surrounds Bovey Castle and down within the valley there’s fly fishing, clay pigeon shooting, horse carriage rides, tennis, a deer park (above), and archery

The golfers appear to have their very own private dining room and so we now have the virtually undivided attention of the mainly Romanian staff within the restaurant, where our starters arrive suspiciously promptly. But there’s no faulting my burrata, followed by fillet steak.

Finding enough chefs and waiting staff is an issue now so we’re forgiving at breakfast when not quite a bit happens for ten minutes after sitting down. Then we’re told the coffee machine is broken.

However the staff are filled with apologies and I enjoy a cracking eggs benedict. At checkout we meet an American, here for the golf. ‘It’s a fiendishly difficult course but the entire environment is memorable, don’t you think that? he says. We’re tempted to agree.

TRAVEL FACTS

Bovey Castle, North Bovey, Moretonhampstead, Devon, TQ13 8RE.

Doubles are priced from £325 B&B. For more information, call 01647 445000 or visit boveycastle.com.

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