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By Jane Knight

If you fancy yourself as Lady of the Manor, want to dine like a queen or be pampered like a princess, Boringdon Hall hotel is the place to do it.

Set on the southern edge of Dartmoor National Park, this 16th-century manor house has been reimagined for the 21st century, with decadent rooms and suites, imaginative Michelin-listed dining and a modern spa offering dreamy natural treatments.

It’s escapism at its best, a chance to immerse yourself in a different world and time, while enjoying thoroughly modern luxuries.

Boringdon Hall’s nothing’s-too-much-trouble service has a friendly face and the hotel has a relaxed vibe you wouldn’t necessarily expect at a five-star Elizabethan hotel.

Here’s what happened when The Boutique Handbook’s resident spa expert and founder of Spavellous, Jane Knight, checked in for the night.

BORINGDON HALL HOTEL REVIEW

Boringdon Hall castle exterior
The exterior looks like a fairytale castle. Credit: Boringdon Hall

GETTING THERE

Located just outside Plymouth, Boringdon Hall sits between Dartmoor National Park and the South Devon coast. I travelled to the hotel by train, a breezy 3 hrs 35 mins from Paddington, followed by a 20-minute taxi ride to the hotel. There are plenty of cabs at the station.

Plymouth’s easily reachable from Bristol, Cardiff and the Cornish coast too. In fact Boringdon Hall hotel makes a great stop-off en-route to or from Cornwall. If you’re coming by road, the hotel isn’t far from the A38, via the M5 or A303 if you’re heading from London or the South. 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Boringdon Hall bedroom
Rooms are traditional with a modern feel. Credit: Boringdon Hall

As you leave the urban sprawl of Plymouth behind you and enter the Boringdon Hall estate, the vibe changes and you quickly forget you’re anywhere near a city, or real life for that matter.

When you first glimpse the imposing stone manor house, as you make your way up the sweeping driveway, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this Grade I listed building is actually a real-life castle.

As the huge oak front door swings open, you know you’re entering somewhere a little different.  Don’t be put off by the suit of armour and ye olde font signage, this is no history-themed hotel. Boringdon Hall is a venue that embraces its past, but is fully signed up to the modern magic of a carefully curated wine list and cheeky rooftop hot tub.

THE ROOMS

Boringdon Hall rooms
A bath in one of the suites. Credit: Boringdon Hall

The 42 rooms and suites range from contemporary duplexes to classic four poster bedrooms.

I stayed in Isabella, a large, traditionally styled room in the main house with a carved oak four-poster bed and freestanding bath in front of an original stone fireplace. Isabella has her own ensuite too, with a large walk-in shower stocked with Gaia spa products.

Boringdon Hall rooftop hot tub
The rooftop hot tub in the Royal Suite. Credit: Boringdon Hall

For something more contemporary, I’d recommend the three-storey Lady Jane suite with a crystal chandelier suspended above the standalone bath. Or the super-king Saltram Suite with its stargazing skylight.

If a private jacuzzi is a must, choose from either the Executive Suite, which has a sunken hot tub in its private walled garden or the Royal Suite with its own secluded terrace tub. Call the helpful hotel team when booking so they can help you pick your perfect room. 

FOOD AND DRINK

Spatisserie restaurant Boringdon Hall
The Spatisserie restaurant. Credit: Boringdon Hall

Boringdon Hall hotel has three great dining options – Àclèaf for fine dining, The Mayflower all-day brasserie and the Spatisserie which, as the name suggests, is in the spa wing.

Àclèaf offers a four-course tasting menu that combines culinary excellence with the best quality seasonal ingredients, artistic flair and a dash of fun.

The restaurant is in an intimate, galleried space overlooking the aptly named Great Hall. Elegant but unstuffy, it has low lighting, classic décor and is a stylish and comfortable place to spend a very enjoyable couple of hours.

Àclèaf’s menu, created by talented Head Chef Scott Paton, offers four options for each of the four courses, with pared-back descriptions providing enough information to make choices, without giving too much away. The hotel takes its wine seriously and there’s a wine pairing flight available. Vegetarian and vegan options are available too.

Before the first course arrives, you’re given a selection of ‘snacks’, gourmet appetite-whetters that set the tone of this imaginative gastronomical journey. Each course is beautifully presented, both on the plate and by the friendly waiting team, who add informative tidbits relating to flavour combinations and the provenance of ingredients.

Àclèaf restaurant Boringdon Hall
Àclèaf fine dining restaurant. Credit: Boringdon Hall

I particularly enjoyed the Scallop Tartare topped with Walnut Oil and two types of caviar – apparently chosen for their nuttier taste – and John Dory with Ginger and Spring Onion with a surprise kaffir lime kick. Before the dessert arrived I was treated to a playful ‘pre-dessert’, the result of a simple visual quiz I’d filled in at the start of the meal.

The standard of food was exceptional and we’re not surprised Àclèaf was awarded a Michelin Star in 2023, coincidentally just a few weeks after we visited. The tasting menu costs £100, £180 with wine flight, and the menu changes with the seasons.

A little more low-key, the Mayflower Brasserie offers all-day dining in a relaxed but elegant environment.  Think distressed mirrors, wood flooring and comfy upholstered benches. Menu favourites include the Club Sandwich and Mayflower Wagyu burger with brie and bacon.  The Mayflower is also where you can enjoy a leisurely breakfast or afternoon tea. 

Boringdon Hall secret bar
The secret cocktail bar. Credit: Boringdon Hall

For a grander setting, opt to have afternoon tea in the Great Hall, with its super high ceilings, velvet sofas and the longest curtains you’ll see outside of a theatre. Also, a great place to come for pre-dinner drinks, including those made with the hotel’s own gin.

For further drinking fun, hunt down the speakeasy-style hidden bar, concealed behind a bookcase.  Hard enough to find, even harder to leave once you’ve indulged in a couple of the mixologist’s creative cocktails.

The third dining option is the Spatisserie, located above the spa.  A bright, contemporary space to enjoy brunch, a light lunch or afternoon tea, with two outdoor terraces overlooking Dartmoor.

THE SPA

Boringdon Hall spa outside
The modern spa area. Credit: Boringdon Hall

A stay at Boringdon Hall wouldn’t be complete without visiting the award-winning Gaia spa, or at least enjoying one of their soothing natural treatments. 

We tried the new Gaia Calming Journey treatment (£120 for 60 minutes). It is the perfect combination of tension-relieving back, shoulder and head massage and a firming facial using Gaia’s fresh-scented natural products. The therapist tailors treatment to your needs on the day (tight shoulders and slightly dry skin, for example) and there were nice extra touches like a welcome foot ritual and post-treatment fruit elixir shot. I emerged feeling loose and glowing and ready to succumb to the lure of the shop on the way out to continue the spa vibe at home.

The daylight-bathed spa has an 18-metre indoor swimming pool, in-out hydro pool, two saunas, a tepidarium with heated stone benches and two steam rooms.  There is also a large gym, beauty salon offering manicures, pedicures and hairdressing, plus a spa garden if you fancy a bit of outdoor spa R&R. 

There are 12 treatments rooms, including two doubles, and the spa offers everything from hot stone massages to luxury facials using Gaia’s own range of award-winning products. Hotel guests have free spa access from three hours before the 3pm check-in.

OVERALL VERDICT

Boringdon Hall does a great job of fusing traditional (hotel) and modern (spa) with decadent dining. It’s a great choice if you fancy something a little different and the relaxed atmosphere and attentive, friendly staff help make it an all-round winner. Perfect for a romantic weekend escape. Try and book a hot tub room.

Rooms start from £140 a night | Midweek spa breaks start from £395 for two

Book a stay at Boringdon Hall here

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