Once the haunt of Hollywood A-listers and US presidents, the marvellous Moorland Garden Hotel is a fabulous hotel and a great base to discover the delights of Dartmoor and the magnificent natural harbour of Plymouth, as Iwan Davies found out...

Perfectly placed between Plymouth and Tavistock, the 44-bedroom four star Moorland Garden Hotel has proved to be quite a draw since first opening its doors in 1934.

Famous visitors have included American leaders Harry S Truman and his successor Dwight D Eisenhower, as well as stars of the silver screen of the calibre of David Niven, Rex Harrison and Wales’ very own Ray Milland.

These days it is still very much a popular pull, located in a serene location, surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens.

I was lucky enough to stay in one of the four large suites with super-king four-poster beds.

Beds are extremely comfortable and the spotless rooms quiet and tastefully designed.

The AA Rosette-awarded Wildflower Restaurant serves excellent locally sourced fare and menus with the season with the slant on modern British cuisine and pub favourites.

The steaks are first rate and the choice on offer throughout is well-balanced, supported by a very decent wine list.

The buffer breakfast is also great with a fine cooked breakfast and a large selection of pastries and fruits as well as dishes made to order like porridge.

There’s a large bar and the service throughout the hotel is impeccable from the genuinely lovely staff.

You are spoilt for choice for things to do in the surrounding area.

Steeped in history with its key role in Britain’s proud naval tradition, Plymouth is just eight miles down the road and home to stellar attraction, the National Marine Aquarium (national-aquarium.co.uk) the UK’s largest and home to more than 4,000 sea creatures.

Start with the local animals of the Plymouth Sound and journey all the way to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and catch the Atlantic Ocean tank – home to large nurse sharks, sand tiger sharks and their new lemon sharks – the deepest in the UK, holding 2.5 million litres of water.

And no visit to Plymouth would be complete without calling in at the Plymouth Gin Distillery (plymouthdistillery.com) to find out about its fascinating past, with its links to the Pilgrim Fathers and their journey to the New World in 1620, as well as how the once-again fashionable drink is made.

You even get samples along the trip and a voucher to enjoy a gin and tonic or a sloe gin in its excellent bar which has a commemorative list of all the Mayflower passengers who left Plymouth for America.

Closer to the Moorland Garden Hotel, just a few minutes away in the car, is the stunning The Garden House (thegardenhouse.org.uk) which has been hailed as one of Britain’s finest gardens.

Covering ten amazing acres, it varies in planting styles and seasonal interest and is a wonderful place to spend the day.

And last, but certainly not least, just a mile or so away is the brilliant Buckland Abbey (nationaltrust.org.uk/buckland-abbey), once the home of Elizabethan mariner and explorer Sir Francis Drake who helped defeat the Spanish Armada.

Part museum, part house, it is surrounded by magnificent meadows, orchards and woodland.

Rooms at the Moorland Garden Hotel cost from £69 per night on a bed and breakfast basis.

To book, contact the Moorland Garden Hotel, Yeoland Down, Yelverton PL20 6DA, 01822 852245, moorlandgardenhotel.co.uk.