CHECKING IN | BORINGDON HALL
A weekend away in the countryside is a great way to escape the demands of modern life, but with the five-star Boringdon Hall Hotel & Spa you can really turn back the clock. The manor house hotel, the name of which means ‘enchanted place on the hill’ in Old English, is right on the southern edge of Dartmoor National Park and it dates right back to the Tudor period; it even hosted a banquet in honour of Sir Francis Drake where Sir Walter Raleigh was present.
Lots of the period features have been kept, so as well as the 41 rooms and suites, there’s wood panelling in the bar area of the Great Hall, a huge coat of arms in stone on the wall, and lots of wooden beams, flagstone floors, low ceilings and narrow doorways throughout the building. That did mean we could just about stand up in the bathroom, but luckily there was a lovely freestanding tub in our bedroom, by the nook of an old fireplace for extra atmosphere. A large four-poster bed, dark wooden furniture and old books completed the traditional look.
Boringdon Hall is home to two restaurants, the 4 AA Rosette, Michelin-listed Àclèaf, and the all-day Mayflower Brasserie. As we stayed for two nights we got to try them both, starting with Àclèaf run by Head Chef Scott Paton. Àclèaf means ‘oak leaf’ in Old English and the tree theme is continued throughout the meal via various bits of tableware. The tasting menu makes use of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, and after an impressive snack collection including aged parmesan & sable crackers, crab tartlet, and truffle saucisson, it was a succession of beautiful-looking plates. We particularly loved the scallop tartare with caviar, the turbot with yuzu & langoustine, and the duck egg, apricot & lemon verbena pudding, and there was a fun little interactive element involving the pre-dessert. It’s worth splashing out for a meal here as there’s some great cooking on show, and if you get a table overlooking the Great Hall, it’s a lovely setting too.
The Mayflower Brasserie is more casual than Àclèaf but it’s turning out fine dining standard food, with standout dishes like pork loin and belly with a crisp shard of crackling and aubergine purée, a blackberry gel-filled white chocolate mousse with lime leaf ice cream, and a gooey orange chocolate brownie with blood orange sorbet. It’s also where breakfast is served, so you can fill up on pastries, granola, eggs and fry-ups for the day ahead.
All that eating is tiring work, so it’s very handy that Boringdon is also home to the award-winning Gaia spa. As well as a fitness centre and treatment rooms, the spa boasts an indoor pool, an interconnecting outdoor hydrotherapy pool, a crystal salt steam room, a herbal sauna, a Finnish sauna, an aromatherapy steam room and experience showers, plus daybeds outside for al fresco relaxation. There are even Gaia products in the bathrooms so you can continue the spa vibes back in your room.
Boringdon’s proximity to Dartmoor makes it the perfect base to go walking from – there’s nothing to motivate you for a hike like knowing you’ve got a huge tub and comfy bed waiting for you on your return – but it certainly ticks the boxes if all you want is R&R away from the big city.
Boringdon Hall, Plymouth, Devon, PL7 4DP