Brrr! Baby it’s cold outside. When the weather is freezing and snowy, it’s natural to want to retreat indoors for hours, sometimes, days on end and huddle around the fire wrapped in something appropriately soft and warm. But when you’re cooped up inside for any length of time, you’ll want to ensure your surrounds are suitably chic.
Come winter, we’re partial to escaping to some kind of magical hideaway – manor houses, castles in the country and secluded havens, any of which will do. The dramatic Bovey Castle, set in a lush, 275-acre enclave of east Dartmoor, is our current winter hotspot of choice. With its huge staff of charming and experienced butlers, sommeliers, chambermaids and nannies, plus, fishing, archery and a falconry display, the castle is Downton Abbey meets Hogwarts.
Contemporary features seamlessly blend with traditional charm
Originally built in 1907 as a luxurious neo-Elizabethan manor house retreat for the heir to the WH Smith family fortune, it is as homely on the inside as it is magical on the outside. With roaring log fires housed in exposed stone hearths, rich wood panelled walls, impressive beamed ceilings, leather armchairs and tapestry rugs, Bovey Castle undoubtedly sticks to its style roots. But like any 21st century hotel worth its salt, the hotel doesn’t lag in its duties to provide its residents with the utmost in luxury stays. Flatscreen TVs, rooms clad in oversized wallpapers, dramatic upholstered furniture and statement lights, all seamlessly blend a contemporary appeal with traditional charm.
For eats, the hotel provides delectable cuisine in striking environments for a multi sensory feast. The chinoiserie-adorned walls of the candlelit Edwardian Grill is perfect for atmospheric fine dining while the gentlemanly Oak Bar’s coffered ceilings, tartan carpet and Chesterfields with seats upholstered in vibrant stripes is totally lord-of-the-manor-worthy.
Although doubtful – with such a rich visual feast to be enjoyed – if you tend to suffer from cabin fever, the castle is a veritable playground for outdoor enthusiasts who love getting stuck into activities and country pursuit. Test your skills at archery or rifle shooting, watch the falconry display, try your hand at sloe gin and cider making, get above the world in a hot air balloon or tackle the 18-hole golf course. One thing you’re guaranteed, the 19th hole will be absolutely spectacular.
One of the most charming things about country hideaways is that houses in these parts tend to seamlessly blend with their surrounds. Be sure that your interior mirrors your setting by opting for a natural-hued colour palette. We love Bovey Castle’s use of creams and neutrals. It looks cosy, warm and inviting.
When turning your interior into a cold-weather retreat you need to decorate with soft-to-touch fabrics to up the comfort factor. Think cushions, velvet fabrics, rugs and heavy curtains to keep out the cool air.
Bath time bliss
One of the best things about spending lots of time indoors over the winter months is that extra time you have to spend relaxing. Any home worthy of hibernating in for the winter must have footed bath. We love Bovey Castle’s cottage-style bathrooms – and that amazing view of rolling countryside doesn’t hurt.
Winter days can mean hours indoors and, let’s face it, there is only so much sitting around one can do before you get a little bored. Be restless no more by creating a haven in which you are happily able to pass the time doing not much at all. Ingredients needed? A roaring fire, comfortable sofas and armchairs so grand that you get lost sitting in them.