Monday, 2 January 2012

Morning Coffee at Bovey Castle, Devon - A Surprising 'Frugal' Tip

My parents took my sister and me to Bovey Castle for morning coffee on my 40th birthday in October.  It was such a great idea.  We had a reservation to go to Riverford Field Kitchen in the evening and knew there'd be a lot of food served , so decided that, rather than go out for lunch, we'd have a 'posh' morning coffee and save ourselves for the evening.

Bovey Castle is a luxury hotel in the heart of the countryside within Dartmoor National Park.  It is really difficult to find!  I was following signs to North Bovey, and it's close to that village but not within it as I had assumed.  I had to ask two dog walkers, a motorcyclist and two horse riders for directions and was half an hour late (no mobile reception and no Satnav).  If you visit, do yourself a favour and follow the directions from the website and don't make assumptions that because you're a local you can navigate those lanes.

The car park was full of high spec luxury cars (and my rubbishy old filthy estate car looked hilariously out of place) so I was too embarrassed to let the Plus Fours-clad valet park my car (wish I had a photo of him!)  But I wasn't here to be over-awed by the luxury, I fully intended to immerse myself in it.


My parents had chosen well.  The main high ceilinged drawing room had a minstrel's gallery and they had sunk into the deep sofas with the most spectacular view over the valley.  Look how the brass handle gleams.

There was the option of sitting in the informal bistro area for a morning coffee, but we wanted the plumped up cushions and wood panelling of the drawing rooms:

I chose a supremely rich chocolate tart to go alongside my pot of tea.  Took no photos of the food or drink - it was almost irrelevant to the surroundings.  There were some really appealing things - the round table with 100 magazines fanned out like the dial of a clock made my sis and I (busy mums most of the time) wish for a bit more luxury time to curl up on a hotel sofa and chill.  I also adored the cheeky parrot in the neighbouring room that would call out and whistle if he spotted you walking past.  The tweeting cage of birds at Reception gave the entrance hall a homely feel, despite the grand setting.  Also the waitress was a bit of a cheeky bird herself and was eager to show us around the whole of the ground floor and even let us be nosy and look inside the private dining rooms.

Can you tell I was enjoying myself?

The bar area - for my next visit?

I have ambiguous feelings towards boxed butterflies.  So beautiful and yet so hunted and dead just for the decor.

 Children are welcome.  I doubt my kids will ever come here, to be honest.  (And this is why: a Junior State Room for two adults and two children costs from £419/ night.)  It's quite a 'huntin', shootin' and fishin'' kind of place and there was a tweed jacketed chap showing some smartly dressed kids around the garden - no idea if he was a member of staff or their Dad. Children are invited to go and collect eggs every morning and the list of country pursuits is phenomenal if that's your kind of thing, some of them e.g. the daily falconry display, croquet are free of charge.  (I wonder if I can rock up as a non-resident and do all that stuff too?!)

 Welly rack inside the front porch

Morning coffee and cake for four in these luxurious surroundings set my Dad back about £30.  I was very grateful for the treat, but I also felt that it was a great idea - if you feel like you crave a bit of luxury, but can't afford to go the whole hog and go on holiday or go out for a three course meal, a pot of tea in a posh hotel can make you feel like a very happy and lucky (forty year old) princess.


Choclette said...

Kate it sounds lovely and sometimes it's great to see how the top 2% live, but of the two I think I'd plump for Riverford Kitchen any time. How wonderful to get both. Love the picture of the neatly housed welingtons.

Grazing Kate said...

You're dead right - Riverford is far more my thing, but it was a special event and quite memorable for being such a rarity! Hope you've got lots of foodie plans and treats in store for 2012. I'm hosting my first Clandestine Cake Club event this month - perhaps you could come along as a Cornish guest of honour?! More details to follow...

Anonymous said...

What a lovely Foodie treat kate. It's my birthday soon and I'm planning on leaving some hints for my wife, I'd love a foodie day like this!
Riverford is wonderful too, I did one of Jane Baxters cooking days last year, was a thoughful present from my wife.

Rebecca said...

Wow this area look nice, I have just booked a weekend away in a luxury b&b in Devon, do you know any great walks in the area. I have looked at a walk called the coastal path, it takes you down the coast from lynmouth and then inland to an area of woodland close to a pub have you ever walked it?

Grazing Kate said...

Hi Rebecca - the b and b you mentioned is probably about 1.25 hrs away from here - Devon is bigger than most people think. However, that part around Lynton and Lynmouth is beautiful - anywhere on the Southwest coastal path is stunning. Make sure you visit Valley of the Rocks which is near there and very picturesque (and has a cricket pitch within it!) and the National Trust cafe and woodland at Watersmeet is idyllic on a sunny day, great for walks and having a well-deserved cream tea afterwards.

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