Before we go on about Bovey Castle, let’s pause on that headline statement. This is a hotel that has Lego on the room service menu! Now that is what I call child-focused. You pick your project and the concierge delivers it. Before you know it, everyone is sprawled out on the floor creating a mini city and you’ve nearly built through dinner. So maybe don’t check out the room service options for the first couple of days at least. There’s too much stuff to do here first that you could never do at home.
Little children are enchanted by castles; their reading books are full of tales set around turrets and moats, and castles are the setting for numerous family films and TV shows as well as filling the school history curriculum. What child wouldn’t jump at the chance of being able to stay in and explore one?
Bovey Castle hotel is nestled within the beautiful Dartmoor National Park in Devon, right down in the south of England. As soon as you step through its doors you feel as if you’ve entered a bygone golden era. The kids will soon be dashing up and down sweeping staircases, discovering secret passages, gazing at roaring fires and then flying back out again to play tennis, croquet, hide and seek, climb trees or test the trampoline.
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Once they’ve exhausted amusing themselves, the staff in the Playroom will keep the younger ones busy with face painting, arts and crafts and party games. Seven- to 14-year-olds can join the Bovey Rangers, where the daily activity programme could include archery, ferret racing, scavenger hunts or a trip to Dartmoor’s Miniature Pony Centre. Be aware, both the Playroom and Bovey Rangers are at extra cost.
Whilst the children are enjoying themselves, parents can relax in front of the fire in one of the spectacular public rooms. Or perhaps you may want to try one of the activities on offer here for yourselves. There is falconry for grownups too, as well as fishing, shooting, cycling, golf, tennis, horse riding, hot-air ballooning, cocktail making and even an in-house artist ready and waiting to give painting lessons. You could even spend a morning being pampered in the Sundari Spa.
Food is a big part of every day here, so keep active to make room for the next meal. The Castle Bistro is a more informal contemporary setting and the Edwardian Restaurant is the one to dress up for. The menus in both are a treat for the tastebuds. The Afternoon Teas served in the lounges are well worth trying too. If you want to explore Dartmoor and, indeed, Devon further, order up one of the hotel’s wonderful picnics to take along.
It is almost impossible to exhaust all there is to do in Devon in a single trip, but when you’ve hiked around Dartmoor, sunk your toes into the powder-white sand at Woolacombe, braved Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park, etc., it’s finally time to retreat to the room with that Lego menu.
There are a range of accommodation options at Bovey Castle. Some rooms are larger than others, however, so specify how spread out you want to be with your family before you book. The modern lodges just a few steps from the main hotel are ideal for larger families. They have fantastic kitchens, if you fancy staying in and cooking a feast from local Devon produce one night. There’s no need to leave that four-legged family member at home either; dogs are made very welcome at Bovey Castle. Our Domino was delighted to find her own bed, bowl and even a ball waiting for her in our room!
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