Tag Archives: Devon

Bovey Castle: a friendly, historic, luxury Dartmoor hotel stay

If you’re going to spend the night in a castle, then it’s appropriate to look the part, which is why it felt very fitting arriving at the luxury hotel Bovey Castle in the heart of Dartmoor in a £150,000 Aston Martin DB11.

bovey castle luxury hotel
The Aston Martin DB11 arrives at Bovey Castle – still looking good in spite of a coating of Devonshire mud

A trio of valets clad in tweed plus-fours sprang into action to help us unload our luggage and admire the car (and point out that we seemed to have acquired a fair amount of the Devonshire countryside on the DB11, thanks to the incredibly narrow lanes we took to get there). However there wasn’t long to spend drooling over the car. Quentin, our archery instructor, had arrived for our lesson. See what living in a castle does to you?

 

Bovey Castle luxury hotel
Osian the valet, the Aston Martin and the entrance to Bovey Castle
Bovey Castle luxury hotel
We walked through the hotel and found this view once the clouds had cleared: Bovey Castle looking splendid in the sunshine

Five minutes later we had walked through some of Bovey Castle’s rolling acres and swapped our very modern motor for a rather more traditional bow and arrow.  The patient and friendly Quentin took us through the basics of how to shoot safely and accurately, and now it was up to us to put it into practice.

Bovey Castle luxury hotel
Bovey Castle is set in 275 acres of rolling green Devonshire countryside

I managed to hit the target more often than not and even fluked a shot to the gold centre of the target. Flushed with success, I moved onto rifle shooting. This was much harder, with the tin cans and hanging yellow bath ducks proving much more elusive targets, until my friend Lisa suddenly ‘got it’ and was firing away like a modern Annie Oakley.

Bovey Castle luxury hotel
Our shooting instructor Quentin shows us the basics of archery
Bovey Castle luxury hotel
After archery it was time for some rifle shooting

I left her to it while I made my way to our room, and when she returned half an hour later she was so pumped from her pinpoint accuracy with a lethal weapon that she barely noticed what a sumptuous suite we’d been given for the night: number 50, which was so vast we could probably have continued our target practice indoors.

There was a huge lounge with a walk-in closet, a vast bedroom, an equally large bath with freestanding tub and the whole suite was imbued with the air of luxury that only plush furnishings, epic views, a decanter of sloe gin and an ice bucket of Champagne can give. I could have happily spent the whole stay in our room.


To book directly with the hotel, go to: Bovey Castle
To compare prices for Bovey Castle click on: ExpediaTrivago – Hotels.com
To read more reviews click here to go to Bovey Castle on TripAdvisor

Continue reading Bovey Castle: a friendly, historic, luxury Dartmoor hotel stay

A romantic seaside stay in a beach suite at Cary Arms and Spa hotel, Devon

I’ve been lucky to stay in some of the best hotel rooms in the country but for sheer romance it’s hard to beat a Beach Suite at the delightful Cary Arms and Spa on Babbacombe Bay, Devon – in the heart of the ‘English Riviera’. With a private terrace suspended over the beach, the views across the sweeping bay are your very own to enjoy, as is a lounge with flickering virtual fire and cosy sofa, an immaculate bathroom and a very smart bedroom, all decked out in a classic New England-style.

cary arms hotel devon
Cary Arms and Spa sprawls above Babbacombe Beach on the South Devon coast and combines the charm of a traditional seaside inn with the comforts of a boutique hotel

There are lovely touches, such as a coffee table handmade from stones and driftwood from the east coast of Scotland, a decanter of Plymouth sloe gin to tuck into, a bite-sized portion of seaside rock on your pillow instead of the usual chocolate and thick rugs for you to wrap yourself up in on the loungers outside for when the weather isn’t quite as clement as you’d hoped.

cary arms hotel devon
Our bedroom which opens straight over our private terrace (it would usually be made up as a double but it’s a little less romantic when it’s two friends staying… still gorgeous though)

Some seaside hotels have great views but are far from the beach itself: the Cary Arms is right on the beach and has views to match from every room. The Beach Suites allow you to really embed yourself in the landscape, as both the lounge and bedroom have glass walls which fold back so you can roll out of bed onto the decking and simply spend the day soaking up the sun (or, if the weather is being very ‘British’ then enjoying the sight of the waves crashing onto Babbacombe beach).

cary arms hotel devon
Our Beach Suite terrace – the first room is the lounge and the second is the bedroom – which looked straight out on the beach
cary arms hotel devon
A corner of our spacious lounge which was decked out in New England-style coastal colours (note the complimentary decanter of sloe gin on the table)
cary arms hotel devon
Our handmade coffee table

There’s fast wifi, a fridge stocked with fresh milk and wine and the bathroom has all the fluffy towels and toiletries you could wish for (and a super-strong hairdryer). It’s the kind of place in which I’d love to live for a few months in glorious isolation, writing a novel while gazing at the waves, or enjoying a lengthy honeymoon with no-one to distract you except from the seagulls (seals – especially local favourite Sammy the seal – and even dolphins have also been spotted in the bay). Cary Arms can also be accessed directly from the beach and there are several mooring points for overnight stays in case the hotel is full (a likely prospect in the summer months).


To book directly with the hotel, go to: Cary Arms and Spa
To compare prices for the Cary Arms and Spa click on: Expedia  Hotels.com – HotelsCombined.com
To read more reviews and check the latest prices click here to go to Cary Arms and Spa on TripAdvisor


Continue reading A romantic seaside stay in a beach suite at Cary Arms and Spa hotel, Devon

Huntsham Court: relaxed country living

Two recurring regrets of mine are a) that my family is neither posh nor wealthy enough to have a massive ancestral home in the countryside where I could throw fabulous parties and b) that I haven’t yet won the lottery and been able to buy a massive ancestral home where throw fabulous parties (can you tell there is a theme developing here…?)

Huntsham Court country house luxury
Huntsham Court is surrounded by acres of Devon countryside

However I have now discovered a third option: Huntsham Court. Hidden deep in the heart of the Devon countryside (but actually just 12 minutes away from the M5), Huntsham Court is a massive Victorian Gothic 34-bedroom mansion house set in five acres of land, which is in turn located within the 5,000 acre Huntsham estate.

Available to hire for private parties, weddings, family gatherings, shooting parties, special occasions or just to groups of friends desperate to get out of London for the weekend, the atmosphere is comfortable rather than grand, relaxing rather than intimidating, and that’s just the way owners Chris and Damian want it. Continue reading Huntsham Court: relaxed country living

NuBeginnings ’boutique’ boot camp. Are the pounds worth the weightloss?

It was when I was hiking along the North Devon coast on my own, in the rain, in voluminous waterproof trousers, that I started to question whether this weight loss boot camp was worth paying £2,500 for.

I was halfway through a week at NuBeginnings, the self-styled ‘boutique boot camp’ which promises to help you shed pounds. Apparently no-one has ever failed to lose weight during their stay. This was a powerful incentive to keep on marching through the mist after my personal trainer who had disappeared in the mist over the next hill, but it did come at a price.

Nubeginnings review
Preparing to hike – before the rain started coming down
Nubeginnings review
There were some beautiful views of the North Devon coast on some of the hikes

For the same outlay, you could get a week in a luxury resort in St Lucia or gym membership for a year – plus your very own personal trainer. So, was my wet week in Devon worth it? Continue reading NuBeginnings ’boutique’ boot camp. Are the pounds worth the weightloss?