Boringdon Hall, Dartmoor
Though the earliest mention of Boringdon Hall is in the Domesday Book (1086), the present building dates from the 16th Century, having originally been built as a manor house on the edge of Dartmoor. It is steeped in history (for more information see Wikipedia). The area was of course the setting for Arthur Conan Doyle's novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, though the real Baskerville Hall is in Hay-on-Wye.
Situated in the county of Devon in south-west England, Dartmoor is an area of stunning moorland protected by National Park status. A popular holiday destination, Dartmoor offers a range of outdoor activities including horse riding, hill walking, canoeing and angling. The many joys of Devon are on your doorstep, including pretty towns, ancient castles, sandy beaches and Dartmoor zoo (imortalised in the film We Bought a Zoo with Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansen). The area is easily reached by major motorways (culminating in the M5 and A38) or national rail services, including the Night Riviera sleeper service from London to Penzance (for a review see here).
We had previously stayed in the hotel in one of their four-poster rooms, but on this stay we could not resist the suite advertised as 'the best room in Devon.'
Bathroom and Terrace
The highlight of the suite is the terrace, but the bathroom is also something special, complete with egg-shaped bath and twin rain shower. The bathroom was large, spotlessly clean and a joy to use - we loved the juxtaposition of the modern sleek lines with the original stone windows. Our one comment would be that the water temperature was a little variable in the shower.
So, to that terrace - the reason we booked the suite. In addition to a seating area, there is a large 6 person hot tub. It is such a treat to lie back in warm bubbles, with the cold rain and air on your face, drinking champagne. Truly one of our favourite things. Oh, and nothing quite feels like sitting in a hot-tub, looking over the moorland, on a Monday morning at 7:30, when normally you would be setting out to work!
In summer, the terrace would be a great entertaining space, and the lounge of the suite is perfect for a group of friends to socialise, or even for a Hen Night.
We booked direct with the hotel by email, reserving the Royal Suite on a dinner, bed and breakfast rate (Sunday night special at £225/night - fantastic value). On arrival at the hotel, we were swiftly checked in and escorted to our room. It would have been nice to have been shown around the room and told how the hot tub worked etc, especially as we were informed that the internal phones were not working. However, we were shown just to the door. We should point out here, that the suite is not really suitable for disabled guests as there are a number of stairs both to get to the suite and once inside.
On entering the suite, a steep staircase leads to a living room with deeply comfortable sofa in a gorgeous plum colour. The lounge area also has a desk and dining table, and for children (or husbands) there's a Playstation 3 and 3D TV.
Through the lounge and down a stair lies the bedroom (with second TV) and a large gothic-style bed. We both slept very well, testament to the comfortable bed and peaceful surroundings.
Our dinner at Boringdon Hall was good but not fantastic. The food was nicely presented - we started with ham hock terrine and seared scallops (unfortunately not King) before continuing with a tasty butternut squash and goat's cheese salad and lamb cutlets. There was a good choice of desserts, although we could only eat the summer berry jelly, which was tasty. The one let down in the restaurant was the service. The staff were all eager to please but, as is common in provincial hotels, they did not have the polish that makes a meal special (for example having to be told not to pour wine into a glass already containing the dregs of a glass of water, and then not to pour red wine into the glass which had had white wine in it). These are small complaints, and no reason to avoid going to or eating at the hotel.
Boringdon Hall is a great hotel in Devon, with modern rooms complimenting the historical building. With more professional service, I would see no reason for the hotel not to be able to increase rates (although of course we hope this doesn't happen). In addition, the hotel has a loyalty scheme, whereby after you have stayed once you receive 15% back on room spend as hotel credit on future stays and a space-available upgrade. The hotel is in the early stage of extending, to include more bedrooms and an Espa Spa. We look forward to seeing these developments and returning to the hotel. Until then, we will just have to work out where we can fit a hot tub at home!