Bovey Castle: A grand stately pile in Devon that’s fit for the whole family

On a trip to the south-west Heather Clark checks into one of Bovey Castle's self-catering lodges .

Bovey Castle occupies a prime position on Dartmoor National Park western edge, surrounded by hundreds of acres of moorland, woodland and glades, strewn with deer and Stone Age relics. 

It was built in 1907 and run as a hotel by Great Western Railways, now comprising 60 bedrooms and suites—with either a garden or courtyard view—two restaurants and ample communal spaces in which to drink and relax. And that’s all before we’ve got onto the great outdoors. 

It’s the kind of place where you know there must surely be other guests, but it feels like you have the place to yourself. 

For added privacy, or large groups of friends and family, there are also 22 private estate lodges within the grounds. Each lodge is three storeys high and home to three super-king or twin ensuite bedrooms, a large lounge and a kitchen-dining space.

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You don’t have to worry about cooking though — these might be standalone lodges, but they come with all of the normal hotel amenities, such as room service and delectable hamper deliveries. 

We stayed in one of these lodges and sampled two of the three breakfast hamper options: the DIY hamper the first morning (cook your own bacon, eggs and mushrooms; a loaf of freshly-baked bread as standard) and the ‘it’s all done for you’ hamper the second one (superb homemade muesli, yoghurt, fresh fruits, sourdough bread and fresh orange juice). 

Once you’ve been fed and watered, there are plenty of activities to choose from, including archery, golf and swimming (in the indoor, heated pool). There’s a spa and gardens to explore. The best bit? Dogs are welcome too. 

What to do while you’re there: 

  • Don’t miss Smith’s Brasserie, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant. The menu is obviously Mediterranean-inspired and there’s plenty of choice. Just make sure you leave room for pudding because they’re wonderfully decadent
  • Have a drink in The Oak Bar (above) which has more than 90 whiskies to choose from, as well as a good selection of gins and cocktails. Drink inside the bar room itself, or take a seat on one of the Cathedral Room’s sumptuous sofas
  • Enjoy a guided walk around the deer park with one of the estate’s deer keepers
  • Bring your clubs. The hotel’s championship golf course is equal parts challenging and picturesque

From £325 a night, based on two adults sharing on a B&B basis. Lodges from £750 a night, based on up to six adults sharing on a self-catering basis. A minimum of two nights is required in the lodges.