Hotel of the Week: The Gunfield, Devon

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The Independent Travel

Where is it?On the banks of the Dart, near the mouth of the river, with mood-altering views upstream to Dartmouth and across the estuary to Kingswear. Step outside the hotel and you are directly on the coastal path. Address: The Gunfield, Castle Road, Dartmouth, Devon TQ6 OJN (tel: 01803 834843).

Where is it?On the banks of the Dart, near the mouth of the river, with mood-altering views upstream to Dartmouth and across the estuary to Kingswear. Step outside the hotel and you are directly on the coastal path. Address: The Gunfield, Castle Road, Dartmouth, Devon TQ6 OJN (tel: 01803 834843).

What's it like?Decidedly fun and up-beat (and you can't say that about many UK hotels). The bar, which is open to the public, is always buzzing, and in summer there are barbecues on decking suspended over the water. Owners Mike and Lucy Swash have put a lot of thought into the design of the hotel, and even the sitting-room (which resembles a morgue in most hotels) is a pleasant place to relax in.

AmbienceRelaxed and easy-going, it feels more like home than simply somewhere that you pay to stay in.

ServiceYou'll be relieved to know that you won't be fawned upon. Staff are friendly and efficient - although the place is informal, it isn't slap-dash.

RoomsThere are just 10 bedrooms, all of which have a view over the river. From ours we could see the water without even raising our heads from the pillow (you could almost dive straight into the estuary from the window). If you want to book in for a weekend, give plenty of notice. The Gunfield is getting very popular, not least with groups of friends who book the whole place for a house-party. A double room with breakfast costs £35-£45 per person per night, depending on the season.

FoodChef Chloe Wreford-Brown produces Mediterranean-style cuisine, making good use of seafood - sea bass, monkfish tails, scallops - as well as producing meat dishes, such as lamb with mint hollandaise and pan-fried pigeon breast, that aren't too heavy. The wine list is thoughtfully chosen and reasonably priced.

ClienteleA mixed bag. Although the prevailing atmosphere is young, or young-at-heart, visitors come from all age groups. It's also child-friendly.

Things to doBecause of its location, water-based activities are rife - water-skiing, sailing, wildlife cruises, diving. Those arriving by boat can moor up at the Gunfield's private pontoon. The coastal path is, as mentioned, literally on the doorstep, and Dartmouth (10 minutes on foot or a couple of minutes by water taxi) has lots of attractive, up-market shops, cafés and restaurants.

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