The sun may no longer have his hat on, the evenings may be dark and that winter chill has most definitely arrived, but in my opinion a trip to the seaside at this time of year is every bit as welcome as in the summer. Swap the flip flops for wellies, the beach towels for warm coats, the sunshine for log fires and enjoy the blustery winds and cosy retreats…
We’ve recently returned from a wonderful weekend in the Devon town of Salcombe. Encompassing everything that a seaside retreat should, Salcombe is packed full of coastal charm, quaint shops, wonderful restaurants and stunning beaches. A world away from the hectic world of school runs, sports clubs and packed lunches it’s the perfect place for a family escape.
Our destination was South Sands Hotel in Salcombe, a contemporary boutique hotel literally nestled against one of Salcombe’s two beaches, South Sands bay. We arrived to a warm welcome, not only in a literal sense with a roaring log fire, but also the friendly and helpful staff. Whilst the standard rooms were of a high standard, we booked into a Beach Suite because for us it represented ideal family accommodation, enjoying all the facilities of the hotel alongside the convenience of two bedrooms, a kitchen and living area.
We were shown to our room and immediately greeted by an incredible sea view, The beach suites are so close to the beach that children could happily be running around and stretching their legs, whilst parents relax on the glass fronted balcony with a nice cup of tea, or glass of something fizzy! They’re on one level, so fab for teenies and toddlers too. The entrance is separate to the rest of the hotel with a lobby area that allows plenty of space for storing wellies and coats and for the kids to have a bit of independence.
The majority of the suite as you’d expect is open plan, so it feels incredibly spacious. The kitchen is modern and clean and very well equipped with cutlery, crockery, glasses – everything you might need, including a dishwasher (yay!) and an all important washing machine for those soggy beach-soiled clothes. The living area looks out on the beach, but if you’re not too distracted by the sea view, there’s a tv and dvd player too and a fantastic stereo system that is controlled by panels in each of the rooms, playing radio or you can connect an iPod.
Each of the bedrooms is large, with plenty of storage and a luxury en suite bathroom (one with shower, one with bath), all very luxurious and lovely to relax in although we did spend the majority of our time in the main room. With a large dining table, you’d easily be able to eat together as a family if preparing food in the suite, but we opted for the hotel breakfast, which was delicious. A choice of full English, continental and pastries – everything you need to get the family ready for a day by the sea.
What we loved
Location, location, location. The hotel has an idyllic location, perfect for beach access and long coastal walks. The town itself is a short drive away and if you prefer to leave your car in the hotel car park, there’s a hotel taxi that can drop you off in the town and pick you up again for a reasonable charge, although the plus side of visiting in the low season is that parking isn’t as much of a challenge as I can only imagine it must be during the busy summer months.
Boutique Chic. The hotel has a lovely relaxed, friendly feel to it. We returned back to the hotel late on one of the nights and were really impressed by the night manager Glen, who couldn’t have gone to more trouble to make sure we were comfortable and had everything we needed. The overall style and décor has a funky, New England vibe and the attention to detail from crockery to curtains is second to none.
What we’d like to see
If we were to nit-pick there were a few elements of our stay that could have been improved upon. We were visiting at the end of the season, so the suite had obviously been through a full summer season of wear and tear, but there were signs that the suite needed some tlc. Also it would have been great to have had some children’s entertainment in the room, perhaps a games console or even just some board games. Whilst in the summer months, the beach is all the entertainment they need, in the winter the weather obviously restricts this somewhat, however but these are things that guests could easily bring with them and our kids rarely travel without iTouches, phones and kindles!
We were a little disappointed to run out of hot water one morning. We were advised on calling reception that this is a common problem due to the size of the hot water tank and that it would refill in time. Unfortunately we had made plans and had to go out, so chilly showers were a necessary and unwelcome evil. It would be great to see this problem resolved or at least some warning on check-in of the restrictions at least.
Nevertheless, we had a wonderful stay at the South Sands hotel. We wouldn’t hesitate to return and would heartily recommend. The hotel will be running special offers for winter and Christmas breaks, so if you’re thinking of a seaside escape it’s definitely worth considering. A warm and friendly boutique hotel, in a stunning location and an ideal destination for families of all ages.
For more information on family breaks at South Sands, and special offers please visit: www.southsands.com