Active, Family-Friendly, Golf
Dartmoor National Park North Bovey +44 1647 445000 boveycastle.com
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At a Glance
This historic estate set within the bucolic Dartmoor National Park offers a championship golf course, a tranquil spa and a host of outdoor endeavors for an activity-filled escape in rural England.
- The views across hilltops and moorland that appear to have been lifted from a pastoral painting
- Feeling like an early-20th-century aristocrat through the array of guided “country pursuits,” with sessions tailored to both beginners and children
Bovey Castle Review
Nestled among the farms and rolling moors of Dartmoor National Park, in southwest England, Bovey Castle is a Downton Abbey-style estate with an unpretentious atmosphere and plenty of activities for couples and families alike. The surrounding rural landscape feels blissfully secluded, with small towns populated by only a few hundred residents and seemingly endless stretches of sheep and cattle farms. This mystical and remote region has inspired its fair share of ghost stories and romantic tales, famously serving as the setting of several Sherlock Holmes mysteries as well as a filming location for Steven Spielberg’s War Horse.
Viscount Hambleden purchased the estate that now houses Bovey Castle from the Earl of Devon in 1890, and his son built the Neo-Elizabethan manor house to serve as one of his family’s countryside retreats. The property was turned into a convalescent home for soldiers during World War I and opened as a hotel and golf course in 1930. It is now part of the Eden Hotel Collection of boutique U.K. properties. The main house holds 60 bedrooms designed in a lovely and uncluttered Old World style (top room categories include Junior State, State, and Grand State rooms, the latter of which have full sitting rooms and large bathrooms with clawfoot tubs). The property is also home to 22 freestanding lodges with a more modern and simple cabin aesthetic. The elegant rooms in the main house offer a more traditional sense of place, but the lodges, which can each accommodate up to eight guests, may appeal to larger groups or more independent travelers. The spacious three-story lodges are typically comprised of three double bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room with a fireplace, a kitchen (which can be stocked with groceries prior to arrival) and a balcony with an outdoor grill.
Common spaces include two restaurants serving classic and contemporary British fare (the fine-dining Great Western and the more relaxed Smith’s Brasserie), a cocktail bar and a beautiful library with a roaring fireplace and a resident parrot. Golfers should take advantage of the 18-hole championship course on the property, while spa-goers can enjoy a treatment at the tranquil Elan Spa, which offers a range of treatments—from facials and massages to dedicated golf recovery sessions—using ESPA products. There is also a small fitness room and an indoor swimming pool that overlooks the golf course and the hilltops beyond, dotted with grazing deer and sheep.
The outdoor activities on offer at Bovey are plentiful. Archery, falconry, air rifle shooting, clay pigeon shooting and cider-, sloe gin- and cocktail-making classes are available on-site and are particularly well-suited to novices, while horseback riding, land rover tours, quad biking and photography workshops can be arranged in the surrounding park. For active travelers, the landscape invites leisurely strolls past local farms as well as more challenging walks through foggy moors that seem to have emerged from the pages of Wuthering Heights. The “Bovey Rangers” program caters to young guests aged seven to 14, offering kid-friendly variations of the adult excursions, such as archery, in addition to activities like apple pressing, feeding baby fawns, birdhouse making and wildness survival skills training. There is also a play area for little ones from three to seven.
The castle is located a 45-minute drive from Exeter International Airport and Exeter St. David’s Train Station (from which the train to London takes approximately two hours and 30 minutes).
Who Should Stay
Couples, families and groups of friends can all enjoy this secluded countryside retreat, though some activities have a minimum age requirement of 11.
- Nikki Erlick