Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa is a waterside stay in south Devon with a yacht-club feel. The hotel's estuary-side seat promises views of merrily bobbing boats, and its terrace is a prime spot for watching the pageantry of Salcombe Regatta, come August. Rooms have a swish seaside aesthetic, decked out in blue and white, with driftwood and wicker furnishings, and coastal-kitsch knick-knacks. Take traditional afternoon tea, with lashings of clotted cream, indulge in trawlerman-turned-chef Alex Aitken’s comfort food, or buoy up with a holistic Espa treatment – for landlubbers and yachtsmen alike, this bolthole's a breath of fresh sea air…
Double rooms from £194.50, including tax at 5 per cent.
Rates include a Continental or full English breakfast
The hotel offers weekly zumba and pilates classes and there are four daily film screenings in their private cinema (at 10.30am, 2pm, 5pm and 7.30pm).
At the hotel
Spa, cinema, rooftop terrace, private boat moorings, gym, free WiFi. In rooms: a balcony basket (binoculars, rug, pashmina, slippers), selection of books, free decanters of gin and sherry, tablet, flatscreen TV, CD/DVD player, iPod dock, free WiFi, minibar, tea and coffee-making facilities, a locally made candle, hotel’s own newspaper, White Company toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
There’s just one suite – the Estuary Suite – which overlooks the estuary and the quayside. This cream and periwinkle room has a separate sitting room and a large balcony for yacht-watching.
The heated indoor pool in the spa has blue-and-gold mosaic tiles and colonnaded sides. It’s flanked by breton-striped day-beds, with extra privacy from gauzy white curtains.
Spread over two floors, with five treatment rooms, a swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool and steam room, the spa is handsomely dressed in boat-faring style, with navy towels, hurricane lamps and lime-washed wood accents. Espa treatments pamper guests from top to toe, offering holistic facials, body scrubs and wraps, massages, reflexology, treatments for men, mani-pedis and indulgent rituals tailored to the season.
Boat shoes, in case you hear the call of the sea, and a salty Hemingway tome for your balcony.
Public areas are wheelchair accessible, there’s a lift to all floors, and the hotel has two guest rooms – available on request – outfitted for mobility-impaired guests.
Cots (free) and extra beds (£15 a night) can be added to all rooms except cosy doubles (there's limited availability, so ask when booking). There’s a special Little Alex menu for kids, and the hotel’s private cinema regularly screens U-rated films.
Rolling fields? Merrily bobbing boats? Check and check: the tables for two by the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows are the most romantic.
Subtle sailor-chic: bold, colour-clashing stripes for Mrs Smith and a baby-blue blazer for Mr Smith.
Trawlerman turned chef Alex Aitken is the captain of the Jetty Restaurant’s team. His affinity for the sea manifests in a menu filled with simple yet moreish fish dishes, and a fresh-catch flaunting Crustacean Bar, offering River Yealm oysters, Poole Bay shrimps and Salcombe-sourced lobster. Country comfort food is well represented too, with twice-baked soufflés, sticky farm-sourced pork belly, and creamy desserts. The sea-foam banquettes and floor-to-ceiling windows facing the estuary make it bright and beachy. Afternoon tea is taken seriously here too, with five offerings, from a light take with scones and a pot of tea, to a full spread with pastries, sandwiches and Billecart-Salmon champagne.
The terrace doubles up as the hotel’s bar, where cocktails are served and guest DJs provide a chilled-out soundtrack. Order a pint of the local Devonshire Dumpling beer, or sip a zhuzhed-up classic cocktail – we like the Honeysuckle, with Jack Daniels, Chambord, honey, lemon and almond syrup. Small seafood plates are available, including zesty oysters, prawn cocktail and dressed crab.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 10am, lunch from noon to 3pm, and dinner from 6pm to 10pm. Take afternoon tea from 3pm to 5pm, and drinks are poured until midnight.
is available 24 hours a day. During restaurant hours, the full menu can be ordered to your door; outside dining hours, deep-filled sandwiches are available.
Overlooking a yacht-dotted estuary in a pretty Devonshire seaside town, Salcombe Harbour Hotel is a 15-minute drive from market town Kingsbridge and a 30-minute drive from Dartmoor National Park.
International hubs Heathrow and Gatwick are both a three-hour drive away. Alternatively, flights from major European cities and North Africa arrive at Exeter International (www.exeter-airport.co.uk) just over an hour’s drive away.
Totnes station, a 40-minute drive away, or Plymouth, just under an hour’s drive, are the nearest. Trains arrive direct from London and Birmingham New Street stations.
Eye-catching countryside and tucked-away villages make hiring a car worthwhile. There’s an Avis booth at Exeter International and free valet parking at the hotel.
If you’re the boat-owning type, private moorings mean you can sail straight to the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Salcombe is a picturesque fishing village on the southerly tip of Devon, surrounded by pretty, pastel-hued villages, rugged coastline and rolling countryside. The 16th-century Salcombe Castle is a five-minute walk from the hotel and the Yacht Club just downstream organises boat races throughout the year. During the immensely popular annual Salcombe Regatta in August, more than 200 boats compete along the estuary, and underwater treasure hunts, crab catching, air displays and more take place close by. Want to find your sea legs? Take a one-day course at Salcombe Dinghy Sailing or pump up your adrenaline with a power-boating lesson with Salcombe Sea-N-Shore. More experienced mariners can hire a ‘yawl’ dinghy or cabin boat from Salcombe Boat Hire & Fishmongers.
Paddle a canoe, or take a bracing three-hour hike past snap-worthy panoramas to and from Bolt Head, following the South West Coast Path. For beach flopping, hop on a ferry across the estuary to East Portlemouth, where quiet Fisherman’s Cove, Smalls Cove and Mill Bay are perfect picnicking spots. Bunting-garlanded Fore Street, a five-minute walk from the hotel, has quirky shops and cafés and Kingsbridge, a 15-minute drive away, has a historic farmer’s market. Drive north to quirkily cool market town Totnes to browse indie shops, visit the Guildhall and Totnes Castle and stop for a swift pint in the Totnes Brewing Co. Or make a quick pit stop at Sharpham Wine & Cheese in Ashprington for a tasting, before roaming Dartmoor National Park.
Modern brasserie Dick and Wills has top-quality West Country fish and meat dishes. Book a terrace table, and gorge on prime-fillet burgers, fish curries and lobster mac and cheese – make room for the decadent desserts and the excellent cheese plate too. Weathered-wood eatery The Winking Prawn is set by the beach at North Sands, a laid-back and lively establishment with fishy comfort food and a seasonal barbecue menu. They have their own ice-cream truck too – a seaside essential.
Sailor V (see what they did there) is a friendly local hangout with smoothies and overloaded sandwiches and a dedicated hot-dog menu. Wash down with a pint of prawn juice: don't worry, it's just the name of the very drinkable house brew.
The Ferry Inn on Fore Street is just a wander down the road from the hotel. Warm and welcoming staff, satisfying pub grub, and a good beer and wine selection make this traditional boozer a brilliant spot to while away an afternoon. Come the Regatta, punters can take part in pig racing here (not with live hogs, we’re glad to say).
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this refined waterside hotel in Devon and unpacked their bag of creamy local fudge and his ’n’ hers sailcloth jackets, a full account of their luxury country break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, and get your deck loafers damp, here's a postcard from Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa…
Even if wayward waves make you queasy, you’re unlikely to get sick of the sea at Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa. Here art installations of nets and buoys, engine-room-telegraph ornaments and driftwood-and-rope ‘Do not Disturb’ signs – that bear the legend ‘The sea air has made us sleepy’ – nod to nautical chic in tasteful style. This waterside stay offers respite from the workaday life (as long as you’re not a fisherman on leave), with lungfuls of fresh sea air and sailboat-dotted views to gaze at through your in-room binoculars. It’s likely you’ll gain a few pounds from the cream teas alone, and Alex Aitkens moreish cuisine, but a brisk walk along the coast and a virtuous spell in the spa (hey, massages count as low-impact exercise) and you’ll be ship-shape again before check-out.