Dog does Devon and Dorset

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Dog does Devon and Dorset

With so many new pups, you need property recommendations from a hound who knows hotels as well as Dumbledore

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

Boringdon Hall, Devon's Hogwarts
Boringdon Hall, Devon's Hogwarts

Hogwarts for Hounds

Given the green light to go further than the front gate, families got very patriotic over the summer, vacationing in GB. Many who normally decamp to Marbs or Mykonos were on the road, Jack Kerouac-style, with wellies sat-naving their way to places they’d only seen in Rick Stein’s cookery shows.

Padstow soon became the place to bump into your Chigwell neighbours and the Eden Project assisted overwrought parents.

Not needing passports also meant the puppies came too, though this gave them a false impression of their future travel prospects.

That is simply not true for our dog who has travelled extensively and knows when a property deserves a six-paw rating likes  Boringdon Hall in Colebrook near Plymouth.

Dumble felt at home with the history

Instantly won over by having the freedom to wander the grounds and lobby, the big cushion in his room sealed the deal.

It was actually our room, but a Tibetan terrier called Dumbledore has the advantage in a Saxon manor resembling Hogwarts  .

Boringdon ‘Burth-Y-Don’ in Saxon means ‘enchanted place on the hill’ and it is still, owing to the extravagant make-over of the stately pile. A total of 42 rooms surround the courtyard, leading to a hall of nooks and sofas, which appealed to Dumbledore.

He wasn’t allowed in the Àclèaf restaurant, but we were, to sample head chef Scott Paton’s menu of decadently displayed dishes. Lots of them are fish as Dartmouth is close, but you must try the whipped goat’s

The grand hall with nooks for dogs

cheese on beetroot soup aka borscht. As swimming pools had been out of bounds the chance to dip in the one at the hotel’s Gaia spa was delish and its a real plus for anyone taking a holiday there in December.

Like so many UK properties Boringdon is the perfect setting for fir trees by firesides and they have an exciting Christmas line-up with spa facials, a murder mystery, a three-course dinner, more buffets and the Queen’s speech. Dumbledore would love it.

Dancing Dog

Road trips with four-legged passengers require multiple stops, and ours was in Sherborne on the way back to stay at The Eastbury Hotel. Easily spotted on Long Street by a period taxi, it’s those little touches that are trademark Peter De Savary, the hotelier who also owns Devon’s charming Cary Arms and Spa in Babbacombe Beach.

Spot the vintage taxi outside The Eastbury

The Eastbury is as chilled as that cove hideaway, but with Georgian furnishings and art that are more family heirloom than hotel property. “No, you can’t take it,” said my husband as I eyed a tapestry pheasant cushion – one of many ‘likes’ in our suite, formerly a Victorian potting shed. Dumbledore came as close as a dog can to dancing on entering the suite with wet room and private terrace, as he had gifts – bandana, biscuits, – and a welcome note addressed personally to him.

Dumbledore with his welcome gifts

Evidently, his presence was required in the dining room, where executive chef Matthew Street would make his supper, and he graciously rustled up a Vale of Camelot cheese brûlée, with pear, celeriac and walnuts for us.

The vivid selection of starters and colourful mains are served on white clothed tables overlooking the walled garden dotted with bronze wildlife, where Mr D could pop out when necessary. The Eastbury also has a spa, and De Savary has renovated the cottage next door where he stays, but is available to hire.

A cottage bedroom

As the location for Peter O’Toole’s Goodbye, Mr Chips, Sherborne hums with Leslie Bricusse songs and echoes with Thomas Hardy, who mentioned the Earl of Wessex Inn in his novel The Woodlanders. I think Thomas would prefer a weekend at The Eastbury.

For more dog-friendly spots, visit

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