A visit to Dartmoor is a chance, for me, to escape. You can step back in time (if you forget about the car that gets you there) and enjoy the beauty and calming nature of the expansive lands. I love the place and, as soon as I see the ‘take moor care’ sign and spot the rough green lands, I take a deep breath and relax.
The 4 star Moorland Garden Hotel sits on the South West edge of the moors eight miles north of Plymouth and is easy to access but secluded at the same time. Surrounded by the glorious moorland that induces the calming feeling in me, the hotel caters for your escape well with a restaurant, bar, lounge and some lovely, comfortable rooms. With event spaces and plenty of experience hosting weddings, parties, themed afternoon teas, festive breaks and other events throughout the year, the hotel is always ready to welcome you.
The hotel’s character comes out in its colourful décor and sculptures, which can be found inside and among the spacious, flat grounds, which encompass 9 acres. Expect to spot large insects and don’t be afraid by the large spider in the tree, which has cast a web from one tree to another, while inside there are more to look out for in the Dartmoor Bar and lounge. Your 4 legged friend is also welcome and with an ‘a la bark’ menu to choose from they certainly won’t feel left out. I had a chuckle at that.
I enjoyed a weekend here in October and, with the promise of a stormy Saturday, I didn’t at all mind the idea of lounging about in the bar or lounge, playing a few board or card games and generally switching off and relaxing with my guest, Nick. Luckily the storm wasn’t quite as ferocious as promised and we managed to see the surroundings for a few hours to earn a hearty lunch on our return. A bit of drizzle and a breeze accompanied our walk to Buckland Abbey, a 700 year old house looked after by the National Trust. We also spotted a golf course next door to the hotel and beyond this there are 360 square miles of rugged and beautiful Dartmoor to discover including quiet villages to enjoy a cream tea, tors to hike and bronze age settlement remains to explore.
Moorland Garden Hotel opened in 1935 as a purpose built hotel with an outdoor pool and 26 rooms, at a cost of £15,000. A large ballroom with sprung maple strip dance floor was a highlight, welcoming people for tea dances, balls and the like, and it still stands today. Famous faces have passed through here including David Niven, Rex Harrison and Presidents Truman and Eisenhower. In the past 80 years, the hotel has predominantly been family run, changing hands a few times and has this year received its first AA rosette for the Wildflower Restaurant
Combining classic British home comforts with the odd fine dining dish, The Wildflower Restaurant menu has a good selection of dishes to please the many. We enjoyed two dinners here with highlights for me being the duck main and scallop starter. The seared scallop was prettily served with teriyaki risotto and roasted cauliflower and was a lovely dish with gentle flavours and soft textures. Though for £7.25 I’m not sure that one scallop is enough for most! The duck was pan roasted and was paired with fondant potato, tender stem broccoli and a redcurrant jus. At £16.95 I expected high quality meat and that’s what I got! The skin was crisp and the meat was delicate, while the accompaniments were spot on with a sweet veg purée too. I couldn’t fault it. We also devoured the steaks – fillet for me and sirloin for Nick – both of which were served with chips, grilled tomato, field mushroom, balsamic roasted red onion (gorgeous) and rocket (not a fan but I kept it aside). Also on the menu you’ll find a mixed grill, burgers, salmon parfait with smoked salmon, wild mushroom and goat’s cheese gnocchi, haddock and chips, South West lamb rump with dauphinoise potato and quite a bit more!
Dessert wise the crème brulee was good, simply served as it should be – smooth, cool and creamy too with a chocolate biscotti on the side. I also loved the rich millionaire mousse with golden shortbread. Most of the dishes can be enjoyed at lunchtime too and after a walk we settled in the Dartmoor Bar for a well earned fish and chip lunch for nick and a delightfully warm, tasty and filling cream tea. Service is always with a smile and the eateries satisfy with heart-warming grub.
Of the 44 rooms in the hotel we were treated to one of the 4 suites – the lily of the valley. The spacious room held a gloriously comfortable bed which afforded us a lovely night’s sleep (and well-earned afternoon nap too) and had a soft purple headboard against floral wallpaper. The lily of the valley theme is evident with the flower appearing on the wallpaper, curtains and lampshades. Three of the walls stayed a pale green to match the sofa and a mirrored wardrobe and wooden desk, glass-topped coffee table and armchair completed the homely room. A solely lamp lit room made for a cosy atmosphere but not great for doing make up (though there’s a bathroom to help with that) and expect to find tea, a coffee machine, exquisitely soft bath robes and Duck Island toiletries.
IN A NUTSHELL
An accessible escape on the edge of the moors in glorious Devon, Moorland Garden Hotel offers a home from home, catering for all types of guest. Food is simple and pleasing, rooms are comfortable and public areas are welcoming with a friendly bunch of people looking out for you during your stay.
Address: Yeoland Down, Yelverton PL20
Phone: 01822 852245