Summer in London is incredible, especially during this gorgeous heatwave. It feels criminal to leave London, when we are blessed with some of the best weather yet. But sometimes you need to dip your feet in the sea, breathe in fresh air and escape from the hustle and bustle of London. My husband and I woke up on Friday and decided to take a spontaneous road trip. Within 30 minutes we had packed a few clothes, jumped in the car and decided to head South – we had heard South Devon was worth visiting and thought that a 4 hour drive was doable for an overnight stay. After a quick Google search and a few calls in the car, I managed to get a booking at the Salcombe Harbour Hotel. The best thing with not having any expectations, is you will always be pleasantly surprised; but we were blown away.
Salcombe is like no other English seaside town. The uniform of this town is Joules and Crew Clothing, chic handbags, and oversized sunglasses. The backdrop is the breathtaking Salcombe estuary and some of the priciest properties that Britain has to offer. Within 20 minutes of arriving, we had already asked ourselves if we could imagine having a holiday home in Salcombe – too bad Salcombe has the highest density of £2 million plus homes outside of London.
As we entered the recently refurbished Salcombe Harbour Hotel, we were transported to another world. A world of blues and fresh white, drift wood and wicker furniture, bright and airy spaces, making us feel we were in an exclusive yacht club. We were fortunate to be upgraded to the Estuary Room. The only thought going through my head was, “really? Am I in the UK?” Through the Juliette balcony an unobstructed view of the pristine empty beaches across the still turquoise estuary. Our nautical themed room had all the comforts we could have asked for, including complimentary chocolates, decanters of Gin and Sherry and “The White Company” bath products. Within 10 minutes we had asked the reception to check us in for another night – there was no way we were heading back to London the next day!
The Salcombe Harbour Hotel offers an outdoor pool, a fantastic luxury spa and an indoor heated pool. Though it is the small novel details that caught my eye – like the gauzy white curtains surrounding the day beds to provide guests with privacy, or the moody pebble room allowing you to relax to chill-out music whilst you follow the shapes of pebbles. And if that is not enough, the hotel has its very own indoor cinema – intimate and cute; the perfect place to drop your little ones off as you indulge in a meal at the Jetty Restaurant cooked by the acclaimed Chef Aitken.
The Jetty Restaurant boasts gorgeous views of the waterfront. For vegetarians there is a limited choice of options; but enough that will keep you more than satisfied for one meal. We tried the goats cheese salad with rocket and peppers, the twice baked cheese souffle, and the spring garden risotto with leeks, carrots, pickled radish and parmesan white truffle salad. The risotto alone was £17.50 – though it was fresh, light and most definitely worth it. On our second night in Salcombe we ate at a nearby Italian restaurant called No 55. Make sure you book in advance as this small eatery gets booked quickly.
Salcombe Harbour Hotel is perfectly located to explore the delights of this ultra chic seaside town. In the morning we walked into the town, picked up some freshly made savoury pastries from a tiny grocery store (that even sold chia seeds and quinoa), filled a huge bag of fresh fruits, and stocked up on plenty of drinks that would last us for the day. 100 metres up the road, we caught a small ferry taking us to Mills Bay. When we got off the ferry we walked down a narrow country lane, the type you imagine The Famous Five from Enid Blyton were on, which led us to a secluded beach, one that I thought would only exist in the Mediterranean. And there you have it, a stunning wide golden beach, within an enclave of vast greenery.
On one side you had a family putting up a beach tent, to the other children playing volley ball, in front of us the calm, still estuary, and behind two spectacular houses perched on top of the bay surrounded by trees. A few metres to the right of the entrance of Mills Bay is the National Trust Car Park and a small shed like office. With plenty of maps to guide the way we followed the coastal path to Gara Rock. It is at this point I fell in love with the British countryside, as we walked along the rugged coastline, with the rolling green countryside to our left and the English channel crashing against the cliffs to the right. And of course this path led us to the best English scones with Devonshire clotted cream at the Gara Rock Café. The perfect way to end our Salcombe adventure.
You will leave Salcombe feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, but you will also leave planning your next trip and wondering whether you can buy a holiday home there. Just 4 hours away from London, Salcombe is the perfect chic country escape, that is convenient and effortless.