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At a glance

  • You'll love

    Gorgeous grounds

    Iconic golf course

    Top Sunday roasts

  • Kids will love

    Adventurous activities

    Lego delivery service

    Deer on the doorstep

  • Don’t expect

    Hi-tech extras

    Year-round kids club

    Spectacular spa


The thoroughly British hotel that has everything covered for family holidays, baronial Bovey Castle near Dartmoor has waxed jackets and wellies at the ready for your moorland adventures en famille. The estate is vast, so there's plenty to do for little Smiths of all ages: the kids’ club is excellent, so you can cheerfully pack your Bovey Ranger off to build campfires while you linger over lunch, and the indoor pool is a first-class spot for splashing about come rain or shine.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Bovey Castle with us:

Free extra beds in the room for children, and a bottle of red wine for parents


‘At half term, the kids club and crèche are so shrewdly organised that boredom just isn’t an option. But for all its outdoorsy vitality, Bovey is also cosy, homely and considerate, with a delicious restaurant and sultry, grown-up bar’

Smith & Family


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Bovey Castle – Devon – United Kingdom

Need To Know


60, plus 22 three-storey country lodges with kitchens.


11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in is 3pm, although you're welcome to arrive earlier and use the facilities, have lunch and make yourself at home before your room is available.


Double rooms from £139.00, including tax at 20 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional service charge of 5% per booking on check-out.

More details

Room rates are usually room only. Breakfast costs from £13 for a Continental buffet (£5 for children), a full English spread is £20 (£10 for children). Children stay free in cots and under-14s stay in extra beds for £20 a night – Castle Rooms and above are roomy enough for little ones.


Within the main building, there’s an accessible bedroom with a level entry wet room for guests in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. It has a disabled toilet and an emergency alarm.

At the hotel

Spa, indoor pool, restaurants, bar, crèche, school-holiday kids club, helipad, 275 acres, gardens, woods, falconry school, golf course, tennis courts, putting green, DVD library, free WiFi. 

In your room

Flatscreen TV, mini-fridge, kettle, free bottled water, safe, Espa bath products, slippers, bathrobes (plus baby robes and slippers). Lodges have fully equipped kitchens, a DVD player and utility rooms.

Our favourite rooms

Some of the Superior Castle and Valley Castle can take one extra bed or cot, but the suites are much roomier with separate living spaces and dining tables – they’ll all sleep two adults and two children with ease. Rooms are individually designed by Annabel Elliot, with deluxe fabrics, expert upholstery, beautiful wallpapers and specially selected bureaus and armoires; most have baths and showers. One of the Grand State rooms has a decked balcony directly overlooking the countryside. For bigger families, there are the 14 three-storey lodges dotted around the grounds; they each have three ensuite bedrooms and sleep a maximum of six adults and two children (with two extra beds). They also have utility rooms, outdoor areas and enviably kitted-out oak kitchens with microwaves and dishwashers.


There’s a heated indoor pool which features a Jacuzzi at one end; it’s adults-only from 7am–9.30am and again after 5.30pm, but firmly family-friendly for the rest of the day. Free swimming nappies are available – just grab a member of staff. The area contains a scattering of chic deckchairs and is utterly spotless.


The spa itself is quite basic – a reception leading to a few treatment rooms, rather than hammams, Arctic mists or plunge pools, but the service and attention to detail are excellent. Treatments using Espa products include age-defying facials, pre- and post-natal treatments and reflexology. There’s also ‘Nfanga – Angel Bliss for children’, which is designed to ease your child’s nervous system and improve the quality of their sleep.


Bovey Castle is the only hotel in the world where you can ask for boxes of Lego to be delivered to your room. Children can choose from all kinds of brick-building sets, from Lego Duplo to techier kit for teenagers… and that specific sort of grown-up (a deposit is required and then refunded once the set's returned).

Book ahead

During school holidays, the kids’ club is a life-saver and if it’s booked up when you get there, you might be devastated. Call ahead at all costs. Babysitters need to be booked at least two days in advance.


Up to two small dogs a room are welcome (£25 a night, for each dog). Liaise with the hotel in advance if you are planning to bring your pet to stay.


Bovey Castle draws all its water from the Bovey River, cleaning and purifying it before pumping it through the hotel.

Food and drink

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Bovey Castle – Devon – United Kingdom


There are two restaurants: one formal, one less so. Inspired by the glamorous railway company that first opened the hotel, the Great Western Restaurant is an elegant art deco space with chandeliers, chinoiserie, champagne – the whole shebang. The food is far from stuffy, though: expect game from the moors (we spied squab pigeon and rabbit-stuffed beignets), seafood fresh from Devon and Cornwall, a fine selection of artisanal cheeses, and delicate dessert confections (try the 9th Hole chocolate tree stump). Sunday lunch is everything it should be: cosy, traditional, delicious and locally sourced – it’ll leave you feeling quite lovely. A kids’ version is available from £15 for two courses. Smith's Brasserie is a more casual place to pull up a bucket chair for generously filled sandwiches, a burger or trad-Brit meat or fish dishes (our pick is the corned-beef hash or cheddar-crusted fish pie); desserts are equally satisfying. Another meal that’s never overlooked by Bovey is afternoon tea; linger over sandwiches scones and cakes by the crackling fire, or overlooking the delicious estate on the terrace. Children can do tea too; they can order whatever they like for half price. During school holidays, kids’ high tea and movie time is at 5.30pm.  

Family fare

Children are welcome in both restaurants, and highchairs are available. There’s a small but thoughtful kids menu available in both restaurants, which features all the big hitters – half-pizzas, 'Heinz' tomato soup, pasta and sausages – meals cost £8.50 and come with cordial and ice-cream. On sunny days, staff are always happy to pack you off with a picnic.

Hotel Bar

The Oak Bar practically oozes cognac from the cracks of its wood paneling. It’s a sultry spot with high ceilings, huge views of the grounds, tartan carpets, Chesterfield sofas and wine-red curtains. Behind the bar, there are 130 whiskeys, plenty of malts and Armagnacs, Dartmoor ales and a long wine list. Children are allowed at any time, but it’s quite an adult setting – jazz tinkling in the background, pianist on Fridays and Saturdays and serious grown-ups sipping serious drinks. During the day, cocktail-making lessons take place here.

Last orders

Restaurant opening hours are seasonal and vary between weekends and weekdays, but the earliest they close is 9pm. The bar stays open until the last guest goes to bed.

Smith Insider

  • Top table

    If you’ve got a babysitter, go for one of the tables by the Great Western Restaurant’s big windows for romantic, wistful views. If you haven’t, you can get some privacy at the front of the dining room, behind tactfully positioned planters.

  • Room service

    Besides the snacks, there’s more. Bovey Castle is the only hotel in the world which can bring you a silver platter festooned with Lego (OK, it's just a mixed box of bricks, but to us that's bordering on genius). You can also phone down if you need milk to be warmed. Regular room service runs from 7am to 10pm and includes simple stalwarts such as soup, fishcakes, a cheese ploughman's and a steak burger. A limited selection of sandwiches and snacks is available through the night.


    From May to September, you can dine privately among the magnolia trees at the summerhouse, which is hemmed in by perfectly-formed hedges in a secret location on the estate. Book in for a private dinner or take the family down for a bijou afternoon tea. The waiters are light on their feet and super-discreet.


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Bovey Castle – Devon – United Kingdom

Parent approved

‘At half term, the kids club and crèche are so shrewdly organised that boredom just isn’t an option. But for all its outdoorsy vitality, Bovey is also cosy, homely and considerate, with a delicious restaurant and sultry, grown-up bar’

Smith & Family


The Playroom opens daily and has supervised sessions during half-terms and school holidays; it contains craft materials, dressing-up chests, puzzles and games, and the brilliant staff will entertain children aged 3–8 with painting, clay-work, puppet-making and imaginative play for up to three hours. Supervised under-3s are also welcome. Prices are £20 per three-hour session or £10 an hour. You can choose to book in advance or sign up on the activities board on a daily basis.

Kids Club

If your 7–14-year-olds love to get stuck in, Bovey Rangers runs during school holidays and half terms; it’s excellent and gives adults a break from all the outdoorsy, adventurous stuff you might not fancy. A Bovey Ranger might spend their morning making a campfire, building a shelter, learning archery, building a raft or canoeing. It costs £32 per 90-minute session. Book your spot in advance if you can.


Babysitters are available for £20 an hour (minimum three hours); book at least two days in advance. Different rates apply during the festive season (£30 an hour on Christmas day; £40 an hour on New Year's Eve).


The hotel's walls are a little too thick for a monitor to be affective, so book babysitting or set up FaceTime on your iPhone if you want a romantic meal à deux.

Other Services

During school holidays, the hotel can organise tennis coaching for all ages and levels, as long as you ask in advance.

What's there already?

For babies

• Highchairs • Weaning spoons • Beakers/sippy cups • Travel cot • Cot bedlinen • Baby baths • Nappies (and swim nappies) • Soft toys • Crayons • CBeebies

For toddlers

• Highchairs • Cutlery • Beakers/sippy cups • Cot beds • Cot bedlinen • Stair gates • Socket covers • Toddler-proof toys • Trampoline • Wellington boots • Crayons/pens • Craft materials • Picture books • U-rated DVDs • Night-lights

For older children

• Wellington boots • DVD library • Board games • Craft materials • Trampoline • Climbing frame • Swings • Croquet lawn • Crolf (croquet and golf) • Boules • Petanque • Ping-pong table • Tennis • Putting green • Board games


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Bovey Castle – Devon – United Kingdom

Things to do

Anything you can possibly think of, Bovey Castle has thought of it first (if it’s raining, they’ve even got a jacket for you) – from a trampoline, crolf (croquet mixed with golf), falcons and ferrets within the castle’s confines, to the parkland that lurks beyond. Wear out your little ones, so you can unwind over an Armagnac, spend a few hours at the spa, or hit the world-class golf course.

Sunny days

At 9am, meet a member of staff at reception – they’ll take you to meet the ferrets, feed the chickens and collect the eggs. Or, make a beeline for the terrace at 10am, when falconry displays take place come rain or shine but are much more pleasant when it shines. Then, make the hotel’s 400 acres your playground. Start at the trampoline, clamber over the climbing frame, play croquet on the lawn or go for a leisurely (but local) nature walk, saying hello to the estate’s ferrets, rabbits, mallards and dippers. Staff will happily pack you off with a lavish picnic, wherever you choose to wander (you can also do this on the River Dart in Bovey’s Picnic Boat by prior arrangement). There’s also tons of extra fun you can pay for – archery, falconry, fly fishing, deer stalking, horse riding and more. Call in advance and the team will organise pretty much anything you fancy.

Rainy days

There’s no cosier place to be on a rainy English afternoon. If Lego isn't their thing (and we don't know many children who don't like Lego), take your afternoon tea by the fire and borrow a board game – there are three gorgeous communal rooms to while away the time in. Or, if you’re fond of the elements, borrow wellies and a wax jacket and do whatever you’d do if the sun was shining. Besides the golf and spa, there are lots of adult activities the hotel can help to arrange, such as sloe gin-making in the barn, art master classes and game shooting.

And there's more…

Letterboxing combines orienteering and puzzle-solving and there’s a trail within the grounds of the castle. Ask staff for details, but the basic aim is to locate hidden weatherproof boxes using clues, keeping a log of each one you find. The trail gives purpose to your walking and stops little ones getting bored.

Local Guide

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Bovey Castle – Devon – United Kingdom
Smith tip

If you’re not spotting enough animals at Bovey, there’s loads to see at Pennywell Farm (, a 30-minute drive away, plus farm-themed rides, theatres and quad bikes. Watch out for the miniature pigs, which steal the show every time.

Don't miss…

It would be criminal to be so near Gidleigh Park (about 15 minutes away) and not eat there, so book that babysitter! Presided over by super-chef Michael Caines, the restaurant is consistently voted one of the best in the country (+44 (0)1647 432367).

The Dartmoor setting is bliss, and Bovey Castle puts you in prime position to enjoy it, even if you’re not usually very outdoorsy. You don’t need to travel very far away for an epic family adventure, whether it’s history, wildlife, the seaside or ice-cream that floats your brood’s boat.

Get out there and walk! Dartmoor National Park is just outside. If you don’t want to go it alone, Bovey’s activities coordinators can plan a tour to suit you, whether you want to set foot on some lesser-trodden spots, or you like the idea of a War Horse Moor Walk, taking in some breathtaking filming locations. Speed to the good stuff (and spare a certain Little Smith’s feet) by turning your walk into a safari in Bovey’s Land Rover Defender. There are spectacular views from the top of Hound Tor, a jumbled granite outcrop overlooking the moor. Impress (or spook) the kids by telling them where the tor gets its name: according to local legend, it’s made of a pack of hounds, turned to stone. Feeling energetic? The hotel can acquire bikes for the whole family for a half day (£15) or a full day (£20), complete with a helmet, bike repair kit and map.

For a family day out at the seaside, Bigbury on Sea is your best bet – the water is shallow, the sand is soft and the area is dotted with rock pools to keep your budding marine biologists entertained. There are bodyboards to hire and lifeguards on duty. Make an adventure of Burgh Island – accessible on foot at low tide, or by ‘sea tractor’ at high tide.

Pubs like The Horse Inn on George Street in Moretonhampstead are worth going on holiday for. The dining room of the ex-barn is beautiful, the food locally sourced – a bright, exciting menu might include fresh dayboat squid, sweetbreads of Dartmoor lamb or Devonshire rainbow chard. The whole clan can relax: there are proper pizzas with fresh toppings, as well as a chest of toys and a roomy patio.

At Lake Sourton, the thatched Bearslake Inn is run by the Cross family, who live and breathe Dartmoor. The building used to be part of a farm and the hallways are adorned with photos of those who have lived and worked there. The restaurant is crisp and smart but wholly unpretentious. There’s a children’s menu and the chef will happily scale down most meals on the main menu too.

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Bovey Castle
Dartmoor National Park, North Bovey, Devon, TQ13 8RE, North Bovey, Devon TQ13 8RE, United Kingdom
Hotel setting

Dartmoor parkland

Getting There

Bovey Castle sits within the boundaries of Dartmoor National Park in Devon. It’s in the northeast of the park, near the tiny town of Moretonhampstead, which is notable for having the longest one-word place name in England.


The nearest airport is Exeter International (, a 45-minute drive away.


Exeter St Davids train station is a 40-minute drive away. You can reach Exeter St Davids in just over two hours from Paddington with First Great Western, or in three and a half hours from Paddington with South West trains.


The hotel is easy to get to from the M5 - it’s about a 30-minute drive once you exit the motorway. If you’ve got a SatNav, the postcode may throw you off-course, so enter ‘Bovey Castle Golf Course’ instead. Your room rate includes valet parking. If you want to hire a car from Exeter, Thrifty and Avis have offices near the train station and Europcar is at the airport.


There’s a helipad near the hotel, for which the coordinates are below. Call ahead to organise your arrival and the hotel will send a vehicle to meet you. Latitude 50º North 38 47 Longitude 3º West 47 57

Parent travel tip

Make the railway part of your Great British adventure by sending your bibs and Blahniks on ahead of you. First Luggage ( will collect and take care of every item you don’t wish to be burdened with for £32.50 a pop.


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Bovey Castle – Devon – United Kingdom

Smith & Family  Parent Panel reviews

Every property featured in the Smith & Family collection – including Bovey Castle – has been selected and approved by parents.

Staycations are a risky business, weather-wise, but Bovey Castle in Devon has all eventualities covered. Even in the rain, the hotel will lure your family out of your exquisite room with falconry displays, letterboxing trails, archery, croquet, horse riding and quad biking – not to mention a full portfolio of on-site wildlife. But for all its outdoorsy vitality, Bovey is also cosy, homely and considerate, with a delicious restaurant and sultry, grown-up bar. At half term, the kids club and crèche are so shrewdly organised that boredom just isn’t an option; kids who love getting stuck in will adore the Ranger-led campfire-building and other Blytonesque distractions. And – here's our favourite part – how many times in your life will you be able to order Lego direct to your hotel room?

Smith & Family

‘What makes the hotel so special is the friendly staff and the sheer amount of fun stuff for kids – much of which is free of charge. Children and adults alike were beguiled by Beaky, the African grey parrot, who hangs out in one of the elegant living rooms and periodically breaks into a hearty rendition of The Archers theme tune while jauntily bobbing up and down in his cage. My kids also adored the bird of prey display hosted by Martin, the head falconer, on the stone terrace. Martin has more one-liners than a stand-up. Other highlights included stroking the family of pet ferrets, two ferociously competitive games of putting, swimming in the large luxurious indoor pool, learning archery and even how to shoot air rifles. In the mornings it was fantastic rushing off to collect eggs from the hotel’s chickens; we’d then pass them onto the chef who transformed them into breakfast.

Bovey Castle is a quirky place full of history and English eccentricity. A neo-Elizabethan pile nestling in the foothills of Dartmoor, it’s all wood-panelling, spacious sitting rooms and log fires, with far-reaching views across the pretty golf course, over beautiful Dartmoor. Inspired by a picture of an Italian mansion, it was built by the son of the late WH Smith after he was instructed by his father to build a replica on a 5,000-acre estate in Devon.’

Anonymously reviewed by Justine Roberts, Mumsnet

The Guestbook  Smith member reviews

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith & Family hotel, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what real-life family guests had to say about Bovey Castle in the Guestbook below.


Stayed on

We loved

Organised activities such as falconry, clay pigeon shooting and archery. Kelly on the activities desk gave us loads of local knowledge. Miniature pony centre which you can walk round a back route out of the golf course (ask Kelly on the desk, she may even give you a lift part way in the golf buggy if she has time, which was a highlight for my 9 year old)

Don’t expect

Value for money in the brasserie.

Rating: 7/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

As we have a 4 month old baby, it was perfect for our mimimoon as the room was big for all our stuff and still felt roomy. The pool was lovely.

Don’t expect

Family changing area by the pool

Rating: 10/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

the playbarn - excellent care and fun provided by Tracey

Don’t expect

much to do at night

Rating: 10/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

Amazing setting, amazing State room, very family friendly and laid back. Reception staff were great.  Now considering booking for one Christmas! 

Don’t expect

Restaurant and bar staff seemed poor to me – whilst breakfast was lovely everything took ages. We didn't eat in the Smith Brasserie as it felt cold to me and smelt of chlorine from the pool.

Rating: 8/10 stars


Stayed on

We loved

The main restaurant was brilliant; the wonderful very grand sitting rooms with plenty of reading material, comfy chairs and a warm fire; the activities each AM for the kids.

Don’t expect

The Brasserie didn't seem very good unfortunately; the food definitely fell below our personal expectations, which is a shame since the main restaurant is so good.

Rating: 8/10 stars


Stayed on 2 children

We loved

The hotel building, bedroom and grounds. We took our bicycles and had a great cycle around the back roads and paths.

Don’t expect

Good food, in my opinion.

Rating: 5/10 stars