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A Spellbinding Dartmoor Escape at Asteria

A Spellbinding Dartmoor Escape at Asteria

A place of pure magic, the dramatic sprawl of Dartmoor is one of the most enigmatic destinations in the UK. So, what better way to escape the everyday for a while than with a luxury retreat within its bracken-brushed folds?

Fortunately for my family and I, the promise of luxurious Dartmoor escapism is exactly what awaited us as we followed a tangle of picturesque country lanes towards Asteria one Friday evening. A gorgeous sanctuary, this private, two-bedroom retreat sits within the grounds of a former rectory and boasts a backdrop of sprawling gardens and hummocky countryside beyond. Residing in its own pocket of Dartmoor paradise, it provides the most wonderful base for up to four people to savour hygge moments and wild adventures from Boutique comfort. And, it was to be our home for the next three nights.

Garden furniture beautifully arranged in the private courtyard of Asteria

Needless to say, the drive towards Asteria was one full of anticipation and excitement as a gentle rain daubed the windscreen with glassy beads. With a wispy, low-hanging mist floating in green valleys and ancient trees bending over winding roads, an atmospheric scene was set for our arrival. The journey passed tranquilly and, finally, after a short ‘border crossing’ from Cornwall, our wheels crunched along a handsome drive and we pulled up outside of our retreat, ready for the weekend ahead.

Greeted with the warmest welcome by Asteria’s owner, Miranda, we soon had our bags piled inside and had toured each room over the two floors – each room lovingly and tastefully curated for utmost comfort. Made all the more cosy by thickening clouds that hovered in the evening sky outside and a truly generous welcome hamper brim-full of delicious treats, we couldn’t have wished for a dreamier start to our stay. Soon, with corks popped and a fire crackling gamely in the woodburner, we settled in for a slow evening of relaxation in the lounge.

Cosy interiors, a crackling wood burner and a selection of bubbles and treats at Asteria

With the break of dawn, the rhythmic tap of rain (and a dog patiently waiting) drew me from the sumptuous cocoon of bed and lured me downstairs to the gorgeous, farmhouse-style kitchen. Pulling on boots and clipping on dog leads respectively, I stepped outside with my paddy-pawed companion while the family still snoozed, and headed out to follow one of the village’s many paths. Soon enough, we had found our way onto a section of the Dartmoor Way and wandered contentedly as the landscapes shifted from river valley to open moor.

Extending for 108 miles, the Dartmoor Way is one of the best-known long-distance routes in the country and is only moments from Asteria’s front door. Relaxing into a steady pace, it would have been easy to keep walking, but eventually the imagined aromas of freshly-baked croissants and hot coffee had me turning on my heels. Upon return, the house stirred with activity and a heavenly breakfast spread dressed the wood-topped kitchen island. Almost as quickly as they appeared, fresh fruit and buttery pastries vanished from view, leaving only a smattering of crumbs on pearly white plates.

Dream escapades at Asteria in Dartmoor

Up to this point, the Dartmoor weather had painted a brooding scene. However, by late-morning on Saturday, a chink in the clouds had been exploited by a warm sun and golden beams poured down onto Asteria’s suntrap terrace. This was all the temptation I needed, and having finished breakfast, I promptly grabbed my towel and focused my attention on my next port of call: the hot tub. The perfect way to round off the morning, the deliciously warm hot tub bubbled away in its sunny corner, and I slipped into a blissful stupor as afternoon arrived.

Just a few miles from Tavistock, Asteria is perfectly placed for exploring town and country. With the rest of the afternoon ahead of us and the sun still gleaming, we bundled into the car for an explore. Home of the famous cream tea, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tavistock has been a hit with foodies since 997AD, when the resident Earl of Devon used to treat his workers to bread, clotted cream, and strawberry preserves. It was only right, therefore, that we sampled some of the town’s gastronomical offerings for ourselves.

The picturesque town of Tavistock under blue skies

Following our noses to Tavistock Market, we explored a wide range of delis, stalls and shops, each one offering unique delights. From cheese shops filled with wax-covered wheels to fudge counters stacked with creamy bites, there was ample to tempt us. Needless to say, before long our arms were weighed down with treats, including pots of garlic-stuffed olives and marinated artichokes. Meandering along the town’s riverside trail back to the car, our mouths watered in anticipation of an evening of tapas a la Tavistock – accompanied by a bottle of bubbles and a roaring fire, bien sur.

A slow start to Sunday invited a morning of reading and relaxing within the luxurious comforts of Asteria’s beautiful interiors, followed by, of course, another dip in the hot tub. It was certainly difficult to leave the halcyon bubble of our wonderful retreat, but the promise of a hearty Sunday roast at the nearby Peter Tavy Inn managed to sway us. Adding a fun sense of occasion, we pulled ourselves from our reverie and followed a local walk of around 2 miles (there and back) to the charming 15th Century Inn, which, happily for our tufty-eared friend, is dog-friendly.

Breakfast in bed and a bubbling hot tub collage

Replete from plates of roast beef, pork shoulder, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and seasonal veg, we heaved ourselves into the fresh air once again. This time, Dartmeet was our destination, an impossibly pretty beauty spot at the confluence of the East Dart and West Dart rivers. Home to the remains of a Medieval clapper bridge, it is a wonderful spot for nature-lovers, painters, photographers and history buffs alike. It also happens to be a great place for walking off a mountainous Sunday roast.

With lungs filled with fresh country air, we picked up a trail heading north and set off, shoulder to shoulder with the East Dart. Following the banks of the river, we navigated past trees bearded with lichen and moss and hopped over puddles that mirrored the knotted canopies above. Across alluvial plains and past the crumbly remains of tumbledown cottages we walked, basking in the unparalleled beauty of Dartmoor – the magic of which was only heightened by the appearance of wild moorland ponies.

Dartmoor views with a mirror-topped pool on the moors reflecting blue skies

Eventually, we headed back to Asteria for our last night as the sun slipped behind weather-beaten tors. Savouring every minute at our dreamy sanctuary, we delayed our retreat to bed when night rolled around, only to dream of wild moors, open skies and our much-anticipated return to Asteria…

Feeling inspired? Uncover the magic of Asteria here

The living area of Asteria with a sumptuous sofa facing a wood burning stove

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