Stark silhouettes of rocky tors; peaks and troughs of rolling heath and moorland; stunning sunrises and sunsets; ponies, cattle and sheep roaming freely on the road in front of you – all on the doorstep of the Moorland Garden Hotel, which proved to be an ideal base for my wife and I to experience the rugged, sometimes bleak, mostly beautiful, scenery of Dartmoor.
This Devon hotel is situated on the south-western fringe of the lower moor, very easy to find, well-signposted off the A386 and only a few minutes’ drive north of Plymouth towards Tavistock. There is a bus stop at the end of the drive leading to the hotel for those who prefer to use public transport. There is plenty of car parking space, but drivers need to take care having crossed the cattle grid –the sheep in particular are very tame and wander even into the grounds of the hotel!
On turning into the hotel gateway, my wife exclaimed “Wow!” We were delighted to encounter a veritable oasis of calm and beauty, as the hotel is hidden away behind trees, and the driveway opens suddenly on to the building itself and its lovely gardens – a wonderful setting, with views of the high moors in the distance. Our welcome was very friendly, very efficient, and as their guests, we were allocated the luxurious ‘Lily of the Valley’ suite. We felt honoured! We were not shown any of the other rooms available, but if ours was anything to go by, it was spotlessly clean, tastefully decorated and very comfortable. The attention to detail was impressive! For guests with mobility problems, there are rooms on the ground floor and access to the main building is via only two small steps.
We ate dinner on our first evening in the Wildflower restaurant, a superb room with views on to the gardens. Again, attention to detail was obvious and the room was beautifully decorated. The food also was excellent. There was a wide choice of dishes that were cooked to perfection and delightfully presented. We remarked that it was just like ‘Masterchef’! It was obvious why they had won the South-West ‘Restaurant of the Year’ last year. The staff here were friendly and attentive, and proud of working in a restaurant that prides itself on using local regional produce in its menus. We wondered whether we were receiving preferential treatment, given that I was to write this review, but we noticed that the staff had the same approach with the other guests also.
Breakfast was taken in the same room, and comprised the usual choice that one might expect of either continental or cooked – or both! We tried and enjoyed both, although the service of the cooked breakfast was a little slow. We wondered whether the large meeting taking place in the adjacent room was pre-occupying the chef! The hotel seems to be a big provider of meeting and conference rooms, and is busy with weddings also, for which it would make an impressive venue. They also run an extensive range of special events, especially this year for their 80th anniversary, and we liked their links with, and support for, a local charity. Our only suggestion to broaden their offerings would be to add the type of leisure facilities – swimming pool, sauna etc. – that one might traditionally expect in a hotel of this size and rating.
This is a glowing review, with only one small hiccup! There was a problem with one of the meals we ordered in the Dartmoor Bar on our second evening, following an abnormally long wait. However, we must add that the staff were most apologetic and made amends for our inconvenience by not charging us at all for the food and drinks we did have. It was nice to note that they were keen to make up for their error.
Overall, we very much enjoyed our trip and would recommend this hotel wholeheartedly. For anyone wishing to explore Dartmoor, south-west Devon and the eastern fringe of Cornwall, there could hardly be a more convenient centre, with the added comforts and delights we experienced. We will certainly consider returning ourselves at some point in the near future!
Moorland Garden Hotel
Yelverton, South Devon
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