The best places to eat, stay, shop and visit in the South West

The Bedford Hotel, Tavistock

If you’ve ever had the misfortune to stay at one of those hotels that feel like they’ve been sprayed with a phoney bucolic veneer, you’ll find The Bedford Hotel in Tavistock the real deal for a dose of charming Dartmoor character and cuisine, says Rosanna Rothery

Holding a rather important position in the centre of this historic town, the castle-like hotel exudes a grand presence. And, once inside, antique furniture, wood panelling and gargantuan paintings conjure up an authentic – rather than theatrical – sense of the past, which is thoroughly appealing.

VISIT FOR toasty fires, decent food and a choice of comfy lounges in which to soak up all that history. The hotel remains traditional without being stuffy, country-chic without being contrived and impressively hot on service without being overbearing.

DON’T VISIT if you’re likely to find yourself running for the bright lights at the idea of rummaging through bric-a-brac at a traditional country market (Tavistock Pannier Market is 900 years old), hiking over heather-covered moorland (Dartmoor is on the doorstep) or taking a traditional afternoon tea (The Bedford claims to have started this particular ritual).

WE LIKED head chef Raoul Ketelaars’ integrity and the creativity he displays with local ingredients, especially the deep magenta and sweet tang of our spelt and beetroot risotto.

There’s plenty of imagination on show here. The Bedford lamb burger could have been just another humdrum pub classic, yet it turned out to be spicy Moroccan-style pulled shoulder of lamb, sandwiched between burnt onion and nigella seed buns. Tender mouthfuls delightfully buddied with a delish harissa mayonnaise and baba ganoush.

Insider's tip

Get high on the a ffogato – a wicked mashup of mascarpone ice cream and espresso with crunchy pistachio biscotti and boozy griottine cherries.

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