By Laura Mason
Nestled away from the realities of the daily grind, on a secluded south-westerly coastline you will find a little slice of Devon heaven in the shape of Soar Mill Cove.
Soar Mill Cove is a stunning family-friendly hotel with green valleys to the rear and a private sandy beach in front. Set away from the nearest villages, you have to be looking for it, as it’s a little off the beaten track, which adds to its secretive allure as it really isn’t what you expect at the end of a long and winding narrow dirt track.
We visited early summer to check it out….
The hotel is a very unique stone building featuring just 25 bedrooms and villas. While it’s clearly a premium resort, there’s a really relaxed feel about the hotel – maybe it’s the sea air, perhaps it’s the nature in which everyone is welcomed by the family of staff and made to feel like a guest not in a hotel, but within their home. By keeping it small and intimate it’s retained a personal touch that is so hard to find in any hotel nowadays.
A sense of space is created by floor to ceiling windows, and communal areas, such as the bar and lounge, feature magazines books and games making it a great place to just hang out.
Taking advantage of the enviable views, the majority of rooms face towards the sea featuring huge windows and patio doors flooding the room with light. Those on the rear have picturesque views of the well-tended gardens and green valleys that run for miles so it’s a win-win with no losers.
Rooms are spacious and airy. For a family of five, we had a nice comfy double with further proper beds for the big ones, travel cot and small seating area with table and chairs, and still found plenty of space to move about.
Décor is elegant and tasteful that is sympathetic to the seaside location, but to be honest you really don’t need to even try to compete with the views.
Outside, each small garden area features two lounge chairs and we found ourselves sitting on them while the children ran around the garden area just enjoying the sense of space the hotel bought.
Dining at Soar Mill Cove is a great foodie experience. I find any excuse to indulge in an afternoon tea and lathering my soft scone with clotted cream and jam while lazing in the Lounge, I must admit I was in ecstasy!
The restaurant features a menu of local British produce with an emphasis on the very local with a lavish selection of fish dishes including scallops, seafood cocktails and crab taken from nearby Salcombe; Cornish hake, and my scrumptious choice, the succulent West Country ribeye that was tenderly cooked accompanied by a delicious Devon blue sauce.
Children are welcome and we found lots of families with young children finding at an earlier time, with no fuss from other diners. Highchairs, children’s menus etc are readily available and should anything be missing, the staff are very accommodating of special requests.
If you’re after a more relaxed experience or just a quick bite, the cafe serves grab and go food items such as sandwiches, baguettes, salads and cakes aplenty, along with my children’s absolute favourite – ice cream.
Breakfast is another great affair and one that often solidifies a great foodie hotel. The vast buffet selection of fruits, pastries and cereals complemented the made-to-order cooked breakfasts didn’t disappoint.
When you have nature’s playground at your feet it’s hard to know how best to split your time. The hotel features a salt-water pool and sauna; spa with treatment menu and fitness suite. We managed to visit the pool daily, and found we mostly had it to ourselves that was great! I must admit I conveniently left my gym gear at home so that visit had to wait, but I had a look in and it has all the basic equipment, however, I did opt to undertake one of the marked recommended walking routes to burn off that cream tea and appreciate the spectacular surroundings.
Furthermore, for children, the hotel has an outdoor play area – not sure I have seen a swing with a more wonderful view of the rolling hills and sea between the peaks of the valley – and a small games room with table tennis, snooker, games and lots of toys.
If the weather isn’t favourable, an extensive DVD library is accessible and we picked up a couple one evening after dinner and snuggled down for some family movie time.
If you have any four-legged babies (dogs!) then they can join the family too – the hotel is dog-friendly with dogs welcomed in most communal areas, the beach and in the rooms. The wash down room is also handy for cleaning up mucky pups!
For a welcome break away from phone signals (yes, you can pop your phone down!) and a rather ‘leisurely’ Internet connection, it is the perfect excuse to switch off and focus on the here and now. It was great to put the phones away and enjoy the family time; it’s amazing how much time your phone actually takes up of your daily life.
The beach is a leisurely ten-minute walk, (perhaps twenty minutes on the steeper way back!) and is small yet perfectly formed with rock pools for exploration, golden sands for building sandcastles and a gentle tide for dipping in your toes.
Just slightly further afield, we visited both South Sands that is suitable for more water sports, and Salcombe for a vibrant village bursting with eateries, ice cream shops and creperies.
For a hideaway to relax and reset as a family, Soar Mill Cove is absolutely perfect.
Room rates at Soar Mill Cove Hotel are from £199 per night. This is based on double occupancy and includes breakfast. For more information and to book, visit www.soarmillcove.co.uk, or call 01548 561566.