Boringdon Hall Hotel and Spa
Boringdon Hall is a 16th century manor that’s been brought bang in to the 21st century with a luxury spa, while still retaining its authentic character. Not many hotels can claim Henry VIII as a former house guest (nor may want to, given his husbanding style). Luckily the only thing that your head is likely to be subjected to is a relaxing massage.
Offering 42 rooms and suites, ranging from traditional to more contemporary, Boringdon Hall also boasts a large modern spa and Àclèaf fine dining restaurant, which has just been awarded its first, well-deserved, Michelin star.
Gaia Spa at Boringdon Hall, the eco brand’s flagship spa, is housed in a large modern building at the rear of the hotel. It’s a lovely light-filled space using wood, and glass to create a Scandi vibe that contrasts with the heavy stone of the main hotel. Set over two floors, there are 12 treatment rooms, including two doubles. Rooms are named after ancient Greek goddesses, with Gaia being the goddess of Earth.
In the main spa building there’s an 18m swimming pool, large in-out hydro pool, a Finnish sauna, herbal sauna, a laconium, an aromatherapy steam room and a salt steam room centred around a huge crystal centrepiece. You don’t have to leave the hotel building to get to the spa, which is good news in the British climate. And the Spatisserie will cater to your every food and refreshment need, so there’s no need to venture out of your cosy spa bubble to eat or drink either.
Spa opening hours are 6am to 10pm and the spa is adults only (over 16s), which helps it to retain a calm atmosphere. Having said that, the pool area is popular, and loungers are at a premium. When the weather warms up, the doors are thrown open to the large spa garden where there are plenty more loungers, daybeds and a couple of private hot tubs which are hireable by the hour.
Both pools have good handrails and there’s a lift in the spa building for anyone who needs it. Gaia spa also has a salon where you can get a manicure, pedicure, or a fresh new trim.
Everyone staying at the hotel has free access to the spa from three hours before checking in, which is a nice touch, especially as towels, robes, flip flops, and lockers are provided.
If you’re not looking for a spa break, spa days and part day spa packages are also available from £40 for a twilight spa, and there are options to combine with afternoon tea, dinner and/or treatment combinations.
The Gaia brand was created by the hotel’s current owners, who built the spa which opened in 2016. The brand’s all about respecting and harnessing nature, and the luxurious range of natural and organic GAIA Skincare products is used in most of the treatments.
The spa menu’s impressive, with something to suit pretty much every spa need and wellness wish, and all treatments are designed to nurture body and mind. From results-driven facials and massages to longer journeys and rituals. Treatments include the use of crystals and poultices, aromatherapy oils and a range of techniques, many of them incorporating traditional wellness practises from other cultures to deliver mental as well as physical benefits. Bespoke treatments are created for each client, following a thorough consultation.
There are also treatments that have been developed specifically for those undergoing medical treatment, including cancer. These treatments are carried out by specially trained spa therapists, following a detailed consultation, and focus on mental as well as physical wellbeing.
Bestselling treatments include the ever-popular hot stone massage and the Gaia Jade Facial, which uses tiny stone wands to work its magic.
I booked in for the Calming Journey, an indulgent 90-minute treatment with the perfect combination of tension-relieving back, shoulder and head massage and firming facial using GAIA’s fresh-scented products.
The therapist designed the treatment around my needs on the day (tight shoulders and slightly dry skin, as highlighted in the thorough pre-treatment consultation). The particularly comfy bed was heated, and the massage was one of the best I’ve had for some time, with a combination of expertly applied pressure point work and long sweeping strokes.
The facial also firmly ticked the relaxation box, with a variety of pampering sensations, delivered by the application and removal of cleansers, balms, toners and moisturisers with different textures and temperatures. And there were thoughtful extra touches too, like the welcome foot ritual, being given the choice of scented oil, and the post-treatment fruit elixir shot. I also appreciated that the massage was genuinely tailored to focus on my problem areas, not just paying lip service to doing this, like at some spas.
I emerged from the treatment feeling loose and glowing and ready to spend some time in the voile-curtained relaxation room, then succumb to the lure of the spa shop on the way out to continue the spa vibe at home.
The 42 rooms and suites range from contemporary duplexes to classic four poster bedrooms. I stayed in Isabella, a traditional room in the original house, with a four-poster bed and free-standing bath, both vying for centre stage. She’s a large room with an ensuite shower, generously stocked with refreshing GAIA Skincare products.
For something more contemporary, we recommend the beautiful three-storey Lady Jane suite with a crystal chandelier suspended above the stand-alone bath. Or the Saltram Suite, with its super king bed below a stargazing skylight. For maximum spa vibes, the Executive Suite, and the Royal Suite both have their own private jacuzzi. And, if you choose the former, your dog can join you in the room.
Additional modern rooms can be found on the ground floor, together with adapted bedrooms.
wining & dining
There’s a choice of three dining spaces at Boringdon Hall: Àclèaf for fine dining, the hotel’s main Mayflower dining room, and the Spatisserie for lighter meals and drinks. There’s also a secret bar hidden behind a bookcase in the main hotel, if you can find it.
Àclèaf offers a four-course tasting menu and combines culinary excellence with the best quality seasonal ingredients, artistic flair, and a dash of fun. We were blown away by the food, service, and ambiance when we visited, and loved the restaurant’s unstuffy atmosphere and having a pre-dinner drink in the Great Hall below.
Diners are given a grid menu with four options for each of the four courses, with pared-back descriptions providing enough information to make choices, without giving too much away.
Favourite menu choices included scallop tartare topped with walnut oil and two types of caviar, and John Dory with ginger, spring onion and a surprise kaffir lime kick. Simply delicious and beautifully presented. The waiters were charming too – adding personality, information, and humour just at the right moments. One of them being when a diner inadvertently ate part of the ‘staging’ for one of the starters.
The standard of food was exceptional, and it was no surprise to learn that Àclèaf, under Head Chef Scott Paton, was awarded a Michelin star shortly after our visit.
For something a little more low-key, the Mayflower Brasserie offers all-day dining in a relaxed but elegant environment. Think antiqued mirrors, wood flooring and comfy upholstered benches. Mayflower favourites include the Club Sandwich and the house Wagyu burger with brie and bacon. I enjoyed a cooked breakfast there, opting for Haddock Florentine fishcake, slathered in Hollandaise from the extensive menu. Delicious.
Your third dining option is the Spatisserie located above the spa. It’s a bright, contemporary space to enjoy brunch, a light lunch or afternoon tea. With two outdoor terraces overlooking Dartmoor it’s perfect for some pre- or post-treatment sustenance.
If you’re in the mood for a spot of afternoon tea, you can enjoy this in either The Mayflower or the Great Hall where you can sink into velvet sofas and admire the largest coat of arms you’re ever likely to see, towering over an equally sizeable stone fireplace. The Great Hall’s also the place to head to for pre-dinner drinks, including some made with the hotel’s own-brand gin.
why so spavellous?
Boringdon Hall is a great all-rounder that does everything well – from indulgent spa treatments, to comfy, stylish rooms, great food to impressive service. There aren’t many places which offer an award-winning spa and Michelin star dining. And we particularly liked the thoughtful touches like pre-check in use of the spa, arrival drink, and flexibility to have spa treatment tailored to how you’re feeling on the day. Plus, staff seem to genuinely enjoy their work and want to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.
It’s escapism at its best, a chance to immerse yourself in a different world and time while enjoying thoroughly modern luxuries. We particularly recommend Boringdon Hall for a special occasion celebration or gourmet spa break.
Check out the two hot tub suites, The Executive and Royal for maximum spa r&r.
The hotel’s a favourite with couples coming away for a special celebration and as a result it’s worth booking your treatment ahead of your stay and Àclèaf too, especially now it’s an even hotter booking following the award of its first Michelin star.
Make the most of the spa by taking advantage of the pre-check-in access, so you have more time for eating, drinking, relaxing and exploring.
We recommend calling the helpful hotel team when booking so they can help you pick your perfect room. Rooms from £140.
If you want to experience a Gaia treatment, but can’t make it to Boringdon Hall, it’s worth knowing that Gaia treatments are available at over spas throughout the UK including Boringdon Hall’s sister property, Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa. And you can buy all spa products via the brand’s online shop.
‘We stayed for the weekend to celebrate our anniversary and loved every minute! The couples massage was amazing, and we were made to feel really special.’
‘It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so relaxed. Even my spa-shy husband loved it!’