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Hotel review

Salcombe Harbour Beach Club hotel review: A taste of yacht club life in quaintest Devon

Facing a sandy beach that’s the stuff of childhood nostalgia, this boutique base ups the ante with lashings of lobster, Devon sparkling wine and a chic little spa, says Lucy Thackray

Tuesday 09 August 2022 15:30 BST
A light, creamy palette of colours recalls sands and seashells
A light, creamy palette of colours recalls sands and seashells (Harbour Hotels)

In a nutshell: Riviera living in pretty, nature-wrapped Devon complete with bobbing boats, a bunting-strung ferry, and endless glorious produce on your plate, breakfast buffet and in your champagne flute.

The neighbourhood

The exclusive, boaty town of Salcombe ‒ but not slap bang in the well-heeled harbour itself. The Beach Club is two bays onward from Salcombe proper, facing a small bay known as South Sands. There are forested cliffs on either side, with a few swish property developments to eye up, and a quaint chapel-like café on the sands.

Once you’ve driven up and parked in the hotel’s spacious, gated car park, you’re free to walk to the neighbouring bay or, even better, take the sweet little local ferry from there to Salcombe town. (Kids will love riding out into the bay on the blue ferry tractor.) From Salcombe you can take another ferry north to Kingsbridge, another nearby town. But really, South Sands has everything you need for a languid, sunkissed long weekend: soft sands to stretch your towel out on, cool waters for a dip, and a couple of non-hotel food and drink options within walking distance.

South Sands is an unspoiled swathe of biscuity beach (Harbour Hotels)

The vibe

This is the sort of hotel where you feel you should completely rebrand as a smart, boat-ready yacht clubber: polo shirts, naval stripes, crisp chinos, and jumper-tied-round-shoulders. (Luckily Salcombe has a high street furnished with all things Joules, White Stuff and Jack Wills.) It’s not pretentious by any stretch, but the hotel’s light-filled, wicker-accented interiors invite you to dress up for dinner - sitting out on the deck eating seafood with the south-coast breeze in your hair is deliciously glamorous. The spa aspect means it’s extra-chilled, with blissed-out guests padding around in robes and slippers.

Bed and bath

Rooms are classic beach house chic: butter-yellow sofas brush up against wave-print throws in cream and samphire green; while off-whites and butterscotch hues channel the sands and seashells outside. Retro art prints cluster on the walls, featuring all things oceanic, from ships in high seas to vintage bathing beauties, via lighthouses and whales. Power showers in gleaming, terrazo-tiled bathrooms blast off the remains of your beach day. The wide shape of the hotel means many get a sea view, best seen from soothing wooden-deck balconies. Slide open your French windows and you can hear the waves from bed.

The spa is drenched in natural light (Harbour Hotels)

Food and drink

This is one of the highlights at Harbour Beach Club. From the moment you sit down to breakfast, you know the food goes above-and-beyond: think eggs Benedict and avocado toast, with fresh warm pastries and fresh juices, plus Greek yoghurt and fruits, on the curated buffet. At night it’s all about the seafood: don’t miss the locally-caught lobster and crab, which sing when accompanied by a glass of county-made Lyme Bay sparkling wine. Everything is presented generously and with flair, by staff who are almost eerily cheery and seem to love their jobs (in hospitality! In 2022! We know.) Salcombe Gin and Fevertree tonics left in your room are a bonus treat.

Public areas

The chalet-style hotel wraps around an upper deck and lower patio, the latter drizzled with soft blonde sand for a true beach club feel. Here you can plonk yourself on deckchairs, cushioned sofas or plush sun loungers, in a haven slightly back from the beach itself (there’s a quietish road to cross to get to South Sands). The lobby curves into a bar which curves into the delightful, light-filled restaurant, meaning you can waft from patio, to deck, to dinner, to nightcaps in a lazy river of indulgence. Don’t miss the spa, a long, wide-windowed hall with a pale-jade-tiled pool, fizzing whirlpool tub, sauna, steam room and a long wooden deck where you can cool off in the fresh air. Treatments start from £65 for a 30-minute leg and foot massage (or mini facial), with body treatments using the essential-oil-packed Temple Spa range.

The glass-fronted dining deck has true yacht vibes (Harbour Club)

Nuts and bolts

Room count: 50

Freebies: Local gin in a decanter, tonic water; spa access.

Wifi: Free.

Extra charges: N/A

Disability access: It has accessible rooms, though only two.

Pet policy: No pets allowed other than guide dogs.

Bottom line

Best thing: The proximity to the beach.

Worst thing: Getting in and out of Salcombe - along tight country lanes and coast roads - can be slow.

Perfect for: Stylish folks who love seafront living, seafood and spa comfort.

Not right for: Teenagers - there won’t be enough going on around here to satisfy them.

Instagram from: The restaurant sun deck at golden hour.

Room rate: Doubles from £259 a night, B&B.

Book here

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