Once upon a time there were three princesses who wanted to surprise a prince with a special adventure for his birthday. It started with a what’s app group called ‘Don’t Tell Aftab’… and led to a secret that was kept for four months. One that would take us on a epic journey through the British countryside and to a beautiful castle in Dartmoor where the prince and princesses would spend one incredible night!
Ok so they weren’t really princesses and princes…they were bloggers who’d built a strong bond of friendship through the power of the internet, love of the written word, photography and an addiction to social media. Though to be fair Mr S always calls me a Princess! In this merry quartet were myself, Aftab (of course), Emma and Binny all lovers of gastronomy, wine and pretty hotels!
The weather was on our side for once, perfect for a British staycation and we met at 11am at Paddington Station with Aftab still none the wiser about where he was going, though clutching his passport and brimming with ideas of where it might be. I’d bought provisions for the train and as we sipped on mini champagne bottles through golden straws as we fended off Aftab’s attempts to guess where the final destination might be.
With no delay, we arrived easily in Exeter St David’s Station and a taxi was there to smoothly pick us up and take us to our home for the night: Bovey Castle. A forty-five minute drive from the main station, Bovey Castle is in deepest Devon in the Dartmoor National Park among 275 acres of land. In fact it’s so remote that we couldn’t get signal and wifi was patchy – bad news for four people addicted to Instagram Stories but a great way to get a digital detox.
We were met at the door and swiftly taken up to our rooms and in the true spirit of decadence we’d booked a suite each. The bedrooms have recently been refurbished and despite the hotel’s long history they are throughly modern. A huge double bed all to myself, draped with a soft blankets and hues of purple and grey. Pure elegance and class.
A full size table – not quite big enough for a banquet but plenty of space should the princesses and prince want to order breakfast to the room.
A complimentary sloe gin, which let’s face it can never be a bad thing!
This gorgeous five-star hotel has everything you need including and a nespresso machine and mini fridge tucked away in the wardrobe.
From the desk, I had a stunning view out to the golf course and drive way of Bovey Castle…
And from my cosy living area we could see the outdoor terrace and people enjoying the beautiful grounds…
And perhaps the best thing about this room was the gorgeous bathroom with a beautiful free standing pill-shaped bath!
And double sinks with a beautiful scrolled mirror.
With the afternoon getting on we hurriedly took the requisite 3434645236 photos in our respective rooms and reunited at Smith’s Brasserie, the hotel’s casual pub-style restaurant.
The interior of Smith’s was beautiful and cosy – not just any pub…a pub in an actual castle!! With a well-stocked bar and a roaring fire in the winter. But we all had our eyes on another spot…
That beautiful terrace in the sunshine that I’d spied from my room!
It was the perfect spot to see Castle’s facade and on to the extensive grounds, peppered with sculptures, beautiful trees and flowers.
It was actually in 1890 when William Henry Smith (yes THAT WH Smith, later to become Lord Hambledon) bought 5,000 acres of land. His son Frederick built the manor in a neo-Elizabethan style to be one of the family’s many family retreats.
Smith’s Brasserie was of course named after the illustrious family, and is one of many way’s that history is remembered at the hotel.
Lunch time was long gone so we were given the lighter afternoon menu. It was a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for Emma and I, prosecco for Aftab and Binny had her signature mojito.
We tried not to be too greedy as we had a very special dinner planned so we nibbled on some bread…
A delicious roquette and parmesan salad…
A plate of smoked salmon for me.
I think you’ll agree this doorstop chicken toastie that Aftab ordered was total #sandwichgoals
We all had food envy over Binny’s fish and chips!
And Emma stuck with the British picnic theme of a Scotch egg.
After lunch we decided to do what all nosy bloggers do best and explore our new home! The hotel still contains the original Jacobean stair case installed by Frederick as is the oak paneling in the dining room and the stone fireplace. Frederick was an officer in the British Army and led a Devonshire regimen in Gallipoli during the First World War. In fact, the manor house was a convalescent home for officers during the war, and a military hospital during World War Two.
With the death of Lord Hambledon in 1928 and large death duties to pay, the house was sold at auction to the Great Western Railway and reopened as a hotel and golf course in 1930.
With lofty high ceilings, original woodwork and stone, there are many signs of the hotel as it once was though it has undergone expansion and has changed owners. Now part of the Eden Hotel Collection, Bovey Castle underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment and reopened to the public in 2015.
With Aftab being a lover of the finer things in life, beautiful hotels and five star service, we wanted to take him on the ultimate adventure and stay in a castle. Bovey Castle really ticked all the boxes and we knew he would love it!
We stopped for a coffee in the cocktail bar before heading up stairs to explore each other’s rooms.
One reason why I love boutique hotels is that every room is different and you’ll always be surprised by what’s behind the next door! Everyone’s suite was unique and each was beautiful, modern and cosy.
We stopped for a while in Binny’s room while she gave us all gifts relating to our blogs. A really lovely and thoughtful gesture, that’s typical from this lovely lady!
A glass of bubbles is never too far from your hand when I’m with these bloggers and we’d arranged to have a bottle of champagne delivered to Aftab’s room. We headed back up to mine to drink it and chatting away, the time went by so swiftly that we soon realised we’d be late for dinner if we didn’t start getting ready. We all headed back to our respective rooms ready to get into our finery for a very special evening meal!
I’ve got so much more to tell you about this gorgeous hotel including our dinner and what we got up to the next day. Part two of our royal stay at Bovey Castle will be on the blog tomorrow!
Watch my vlog of our stay at Bovey Castle!!
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