Review: Winter Weekender at Cary Arms & Spa, Torquay
If you thought that the British seaside wasn’t worth a visit come winter – think again. Cary Arms & Spa, with its enviable cliffside location and coastal-inspired décor, might make for the ideal summer sojourn, but come winter, the luxury boutique hotel oozes cosy festive charm. Daniella Saunders samples the Devonshire inn’s Doggy Getaway offering (with two miniature dachshunds in tow) for a no-less-than-delightful winter escape by the sea.
Located cliffside on the south Devon coast – part of the 630-mile-long South West Coast Path – the hotel’s assortment of inviting cottages, beach suites and sea-inspired beach huts enjoy sparkling views of Babbacombe beach, once relished by Queen Victoria. Getting to the hotel requires a little determination (accessed via a steep one-lane road), but the vista and friendly welcome are worth it. Cottages provide peace and seclusion, each with its own fireplace, terrace and generous welcome hamper, whilst the hotel’s suites and sea-facing rooms, ideal for couples and small families, perfectly reflect the inn’s picturesque coastal setting.
The dog-friendly beach hut suites capture coastal living at its finest, featuring contemporary coastal-style furnishings and unrivalled sea views stretching all the way to Portland Bill. Enjoy a drop of sloe gin on the terrace upon arrival before cosying up by the fire – and keep an eye out for Sammy the seal, who regularly makes an appearance in the bay. Four-legged guests are also greeted with a warm welcome, including a comfy bed, bowls, tasty treats and a guide to best the places in the area to explore.
In the summer, guests can dine alfresco on the sea-view terrace, or better yet on the exclusive ‘Captain’s Table’ which offers exceptional waterfront views. In winter, you’ll want to feast inside by the roaring log fire among the restaurant and bar’s rustic interiors, featuring exposed walls and homespun wood-beamed ceilings. Expect an array of refined English pub favourites crafted with fresh and local ingredients, from Brixham battered fish and chips to a hearty chicken and leek pie.
For vegetarians, the indulgent wild mushroom, brie and cranberry risotto can’t go amiss, finished with truffle oil and presented to perfection. A flavourful amuse bouche is served before each meal, whilst desserts range from the likes of a delectable and traditional sticky toffee pudding to a somewhat lighter – but equally as inviting – raspberry crème brûlée. Pups are welcome to dine too, in which the chef will even treat them to a delicious dogs’ dinner. As for breakfast, tuck into the likes of pancakes, kippers or a sizeable full English. If you’re still full from dinner (quite likely), opt for an assortment of bites from the expansive continental menu.
If you can bring yourself to depart from the splendour of the hotel, a guided coastal walk is a must. There is much to explore surrounding the Cary Arms, from Babbacombe Downs, the UK’s highest cliff top promenade, to the red sands and breccia cliffs of Oddicombe beach (best approached via the Victorian funicular railway). Torquay itself boasts a fascinating history worth discovering, once a hot spot for smugglers and former home of Agatha Christie. Adjacent to the hotel, you’ll even find the site of a 19th century murder involving John ‘Babbacombe’ Lee, better known as ‘the man they couldn’t hang’. Once you’ve soaked up the sites and worked up an appetite, a visit to Hanbury’s is a must, famed for its award-winning fish and chips.
The hotel’s oceanfront spa provides opportunity for uninterrupted relaxation, and the chance to indulge in a restorative Thalgo treatment (or two), from a tailored facial to a calming full body scrub. There’s also a waterfall hydrotherapy pool, steam room and sauna all to be enjoyed, as well as a fully equipped gym and multisensory ‘exotic experience’ shower in which light, sound and temperature combine to create a revitalising effect.
THE FINAL WORD
Traditional and homey yet with all the luxury offerings you would expect from a five-star hotel, Cary Arms’ exceptional service, rustic charm and spectacular setting make it an ideal coastal getaway. Don’t feel obliged to dress up or overpack – this hotel is a cosy home away from home applauded for its informal, warm-hearted feel. Sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
The Cary Arms & Spa Doggy Getaway comprises:
- A two-night stay for two
- A ‘Doggy Heaven’ welcome pack, with dog bed and bowls, treats and a suggested local walks book
- Chef’s delicious three-course supper one evening of your stay
- Your dog receives a dog’s dinner one night of your stay
- Full English breakfast
- A cream tea to Share
Prices between £147.50 – £170 per person per night in a Beach Hut. caryarms.co.uk
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