Hotel Review: Boringdon Hall, Plymouth in Devon
A visit to Boringdon Hall in South Devon always promises superb food, a grand setting and, as I’ve now discovered, a pretty incredible spa experience too. My last visit came just before the opening of the Gaia Spa so I was very much looking forward to my most recent trip to explore this luxurious new addition. It came as no surprise to me that the hotel now holds 5 stars as well as 3 AA rosettes in its classic Gallery Restaurant with all the facilities and luxury now on offer. With a history stemming from the doomsday book, Boringdon Hall offers many reminders throughout its public spaces and hallways of it’s incredibly rich history, while the building itself certainly offers the wow factor as you drive past the perfectly manicured lawns on your arrival.
I spent a night in the Lady Jane suite – a set of rooms on differing levels with smart, delicate décor, top quality furnishings and a stunning bathroom. Country meets glamour with a plush oatmeal carpet leading you through the multi-level suite, from lounge to bedroom introducing you to soft blush, pale grey and blue fabrics, original features and chunky light wood doors and furniture. I love the unusual layout of the suite and the sumptuous feel as you move from room to room, and the bathroom on the floor above is superbly designed. A stand alone egg shaped bath sits under the lattice window, against the bare stone wall, while a spacious walk-in shower sits along the back wall with slate tiling and offers up an array of Gaia toiletries to make use of. I could have done with a shelf in the shower to store my toiletries but this was small in comparison to the standard of the suite. I was also pleased to see that I had been gifted a selection of Gaia products and I can honestly say they are delightful to use and smell fantastic.
Expect all of the luxuries of a typical five-star suite such as a turn-down service, mini bar, TV in each room, lighting to suit all moods and a large and very comfortable bed.
I’m a firm believer that dinner should always begin with a tasty drink and this evening was no exception. I happily took a seat in the Great Hall and sipped on a Boringdon signature gin and tonic, which is made up of the hotel’s very own gin, a refreshing Mediterranean tonic and slices of citrus fruits. Listening to the sounds of jazz, reclining on a velvet armchair in the room which oozes elegance in a historic setting, I couldn’t have been happier at that time. A grand setting with a bar at one end, portraits adorning the walls, a wood-panelled wall, high ceilings, a massive fireplace, ornate ceiling and galleries at either side overlooking from the floors above, I could have easily been forgiven for thinking I had been transported a few centuries back.
The ever-improving Gallery Restaurant upstairs is headed up by Scott Paton, who, alongside his team, serves up a selection of delightfully prepared and presented dishes, where you can see and taste that a great deal of effort and expertise has been put into each morsel. I gladly accepted the offer of the seven course tasting menu, and the paired wines too, and was eager to get started.
Canapés consisted of smoked salmon on a cracker and a four cheese sable, and, from the bread selection, I chose a lovely cranberry and rosemary offering as well as a mini French baguette. This was followed with an amuse bouche of langoustine bisque, which was packed with flavour. The first course consisted of bird’s liver parfait with Pedro Xximenez and brioche and also had a sprinkling of hazelnuts. This was paired with a glass of fruity and silky Beaujolais, which suited the flavoursome dish well. It was strange to eat a slate grey-coloured butter for a change and I loved the sweet, rich flavours and mix of textures on the (rather oversized) plate. A scallop ‘taco’ was up next and was made up of a plump and juicy Orkney scallop atop a fruity, sweet, warming and finely chopped jalapeño jelly chutney. A light sprinkling of coriander and three little cheesy crispy discs completed this dish to make a lovely plate of food, which was complemented very nicely with a citrusy white wine.
The Brixham crab dish was a very prettily presented one and, served with curried emulsion, mango, cardamom and lime, was a delightful one to eat too. A very summery and uplifting set of flavours and colours on the plate, once I finished I could have eaten it all over again. A lovely glass of white from the Alsace region in France had some lovely notes of lychee and ginger to complement the mango on this dish.
For the main course I had a choice of turbot or beef and I went with the fish, which was braised and served with celery root, truffle, scallop and a Champagne sauce. Highlights were the buttery, tasty sauce and the crisp piece of scallop as well as the chunky piece of turbot. I felt the fish lacked something but couldn’t decide what and there was too much celery for me on this dish, even though it was cut very finely, I’m not a fan and, at times, it was all I could taste against the other gentler flavours. It was a nice dish but I don’t think it was helped by my dining partner raving about how his beef dish was the best he had eaten in recent years, naming it ‘the Roger Federer’ of beef dishes. I tasted a bit and it was truly gorgeous.
Raspberry mousse with pistachio cream and raspberry sorbet followed, I liked the look of this and the flavour combination was spot on too. Next came an all-cream coloured plate of food served on a black dish, which looked stunning. I thought it was a fun concept and it certainly proved that taste can overcome how colourful a dish needs to be. A white chocolate lover’s dream, served with a glass of Champagne, this was full of vanilla, chocolate and pear served in varying ways and I loved it.
We finished the meal with a selection of 8 cheeses, which came with their own accompanying jelly, some crackers and a menu describing each offering in detail. There was a lovely selection of artisan local and French cheeses and I couldn’t pick a favourite. By the end of this all I was happily full and couldn’t even look at the petit fours. The way the dishes were presented was stunning and the flavours, combinations of ingredients, texture and tastes as well as the addition of the wine pairings, made this a meal to remember.
Breakfast wasn’t quite as lavish but offered up a reasonable selection of buffet items including full sized pastries, some more of that lovely cranberry and rosemary bread that I had sampled the night before and the usual cheeses, cereals and fruits. The kitchen provided morning cocktails, Eggs Benedict and Royale, a full English and vegetarian offering as well as my choice of poached hen egg with crushed avocado on toasted rosemary bread, which was a nice way to start the day (along with a pain au chocolat, of course).
Breakfast is also served in the Gallery Restaurant, where the tables are fairly tightly packed but at an angle so you don’t feel like you’re dining with the table beside you.
Though I didn’t get the opportunity to visit there is another restaurant on site in the form of the Mayflower Brasserie, which has a more informal approach for the those days where a burger or steak calls.
One of the best laid out spas I have visited, the luxurious and spacious Gaia Spa offers up quite the experience. Accessible but slightly detached from the hotel, this part of the building is in contrast to the hotel in terms of the modern building itself and the décor. Once there I felt like I had been transported – the outdoor terrace was reminiscent of a Moroccan resort and the treatment I had took me straight to Thailand.
The stylish changing rooms themselves are Insta-worthy with 6 stations set up with beauty products, hair dryers and straighteners on hand to beautify oneself after a relaxing visit. The indoor pool area holds tepidarium style heated loungers and good selection of reclining loungers, crystal salt and aromatherapy steam rooms, herbal and Finnish saunas, a laconium and a large pool with a separate hydrotherapy pool. The latter leads you outside where you can sit in the sun on the large terrace in one of the day beds at a table or on one of the many loungers.
I made the most of the spa during my stay, spending a good few hours lounging on a day bed in the sun and also revisiting the next day for a Gaia Poultice massage and a bite to eat in the spa restaurant afterwards.
The massage was, truly, one of the best spa experiences I’ve had. Starting with a foot spa and massage I then lay down for the remaining hour for the most wonderful back, leg, arm, foot and and massage using a combination of hands and the poultice, which is a muslin cloth tightly packed with aromatic herbs (that I had performed a sniff test with at the beginning and had chosen my favourite). My therapist told me that some didn’t like being massaged with the poultice but I don’t know why, it was perfect and provided a larger and more rounded area to massage with, which, for my delicate lower back, was better than hot stones or hands. I couldn’t have been any more relaxed, yet strangely invigorated at the same time afterwards and I felt very peaceful too. A quick visit to the relaxation room was a pleasant segue before a spot of lunch.
The Spatisserie is a lovely, bright spot – all new and fashionable – with a sofa and tables separated by thin curtains to create a little privacy for diners. There are two outdoor terraces with tables and sofas to dine or have a drink on. Dining in robes is welcomed here so that you can head straight back to the spa afterwards and I had a lovely lunch, which consisted of a selection of plates to share including a chicken Caesar salad, sweet potato risotto and sea bream with cous cous.
IN A NUTSHELL
It may have been a brief visit but I certainly managed to fit a lot in. Boringdon Hall offers luxury and relaxation simultaneously to ensure it’s guests have the best experiences in this historic hotel on the hill.
Address: Boringdon Hall Hotel, Boringdon Hill, Colebrook, Plymouth PL7 4DP
Phone: 01752 344455