Guest Blog Post - Emma Field, The Good Hotel Guide

From contemporary retreats to cosy B&Bs, stately homes to coaching inns, there’s an overwhelming range of great places to stay in South Devon. This is where the Good Hotel Guide can help. If, like us, you appreciate accommodation with character and a personal touch, chances are you’ll like the hotels in the Good Hotel Guide, Britain’s leading independent guide to hotels, inns an B&Bs. Here, we’ve selected some of the best hotels in south Devon, based on jaw-dropping views, unbeatable locations and warm welcomes.

1. For sea views: The Cary Arms, Babbacombe

It’s worth braving the precipitous, twisting descent to this small hotel tumbling down the cliff towards a secluded cove near Torquay. It’s so lovely here that even Queen Victoria was moved to say of it: “It's a beautiful cliffs and rocks with wooded hills like Italy and reminding one of a ballet or play where nymphs appear – such rocks and grottoes, with the deepest sea on which there was no ripple." Good thing then that all of the rooms have a sea view – in fact, there are binoculars in the lounge for dolphin watching. Several of the bedrooms have a balcony with a table and chairs; capsule coffee machines and complimentary sloe gin are pleasing touches too. As you’d expect, seafood is a speciality, and dishes are served in the conservatory, in a bar with the feel of a fishermen’s pub, or, in warm weather, on the terrace.

2. For moorland views: Ilsington Country House Hotel, Dartmoor

This family hotel in a stunning location high in Dartmoor National Park feels all the more special for being off the beaten track. The traditionally furnished bedrooms have moorland views all around. The sleek spa, recently refurbished, has a hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam room and fitness suite, which makes it all the more tempting when you get back from one of the long walks leaving straight from the Ilsington’s doorstep. You’ll want to fill up on chef Mike O’Donnell’s simple but delicious modern British and European menus too; the focus on fresh local produce has helped win the restaurant two AA rosettes. Bistro food and snacks are taken in the Blue Tiger Inn, which is popular with locals – always a good sign. Oh, and there are chickens!

3. For river views: The Dart Marina Hotel, Dartmouth

The clean lines of the newly refurbished Dart Marina all point to the sparkling waters of the River Dart where yachts bob and slice past the windows. All of the rooms have river views, some have a balcony, and the colour palette is chic and calming. Naturally, the dining room uses local ingredients from the nearby river and sea, and from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that coddles the hotel. When the sun is shining, make time for afternoon tea on the terrace overlooking the river. Go for the Hendricks Afternoon Tea: a Hendricks Gin Cucumber Cocktail served in a teapot and drank from fine bone china cups and saucers. It’s almost (but not quite) a chore to drag yourself to the spa, which specialises in facials.

4. For valley views: Northcote Manor, Umberleigh

For far-reaching Taw Valley views from a grand 18th-century manor house hotel, head to Northcote Manor. It’s an oasis of calm and tranquillity, managed by chef Richie Herkes for the owner, Jean-Pierre Mifsud. The spacious public rooms have polished wooden floors and oriental rugs. On the drawing room and restaurant walls, three striking murals by Barrington Barber, commissioned by a previous owner, tell the story of the site from its early monastic days. The setting in the restaurant is formal, but the seasonal menus are contemporary, with a six-course gourmet menu and dishes like breast of local duckling with pomme dauphinoise. The bedrooms are individually decorated and have fresh fruit, mints and homemade shortbread. Go for The Heron suite if the thought of a freestanding bath in the bedroom appeals, or a ground-floor room if you’re taking the dog.

5. For walks from the doorstep: Strete Barton House, Strete

Walkers should beat a fast path to Strete Barton, a five-star B&B in a 16th-century manor house just 30 metres from the South West Coast Path. Slapton and Blackpool Sands are about 1 mile away, and there are highly rated pubs and restaurants within walking distance too. Granted, it’ll be tough to tear yourself away from the panoramic views across the bay, from Start Point lighthouse to the mouth of the River Dart, and, in winter, from tea and homemade cake by the roaring fire. The B&B is decorated in a contemporary style with an Eastern flavour; bedrooms have silks, Buddha carvings and bold prints. Take advantage of the in-room massages and spa treatments (by arrangement) after tackling the coast path.

This selection is taken from the Good Hotel Guide’s Best Hotels in Devon.




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