Hotel Salcombe Harbour – Devon
WHAT IS IT?
One of the brightest, breeziest hotels in the country with amazing views out to sea – probably the most unfettered coastal aspect in Devon, if not the UK. It’s pretty and fun, with a climb-aboard playfulness. After a multi-million-pound refurbishment, it reopened last summer with ship-shape white, cream and blue interiors, a retro wood-panelled cinema in dovegrey (with a miniature cherry-coloured popcorn machine) and detoxing mocktails in the mosaic-tiled ESPA spa.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Little remains of the fusty original hotel other than its sensational position overlooking the estuary, but framed black-and-white shots of happy bathers at Salcombe in the 1890s are a reminder of the role it’s played in this South Devon seaside town for ages. It now has a contemporary edge that was previously lacking and the attractive young staff shimmy around the light?lled public spaces, fragranced with own-brand scented candles.
There are 50 rooms with door-to-ceiling windows, the best having sliding glass doors opening on to balconies. Details include adorably labelled decanters of complimentary gin and sherry, little stacks of Thomas Hardy and John Keats editions, and a Famous Five-style Balcony Basket containing binoculars and throws to wrap up with on a cold day while savouring those views.
The Jetty is arguably the best restaurant in town. It’s a rewardingly cheerful place to be, even in mid-winter, with sunlight bouncing off the water below and a cool crowd of all ages cosying up on the blue-green, button-backed banquettes. Self-taught chef Alex Aitken has come up with a couple of sensible but delicious menus (this place isn’t about showing off) using mostly local ingredients – a twice-baked cheese souf?é, a simple but always-good sea bream, calves’ liver and bacon – and a classic Taste of Britain set option (pork pies; Lancashire hotpot).
WHO GOES THERE
Immaculately groomed silver-haired couples in preppy out?ts, and younger yachties in boat shoes, vibrant polo shirts and jolly jumpers (not for nothing is Salcombe, the birthplace of Jack Wills clothing, dubbed Chelsea-on-Sea during the summer months).
WHILE YOU’RE HERE
For teens, a pilgrimage to the original Jack Wills store; for parents, the Bellinis at the Dick and Wills brasserie. The beach at Bigbury is wonderful at any time of year, no matter how blustery, as is the slightly spooky Burgh Island with its famous Art Deco hotel. In summer, catch the ferry to South Sands for a paddle, or to Kingsbridge for a pootle about the cafés, bookshops and charity shops.
The unsolicited arrival of ice and lemon in our room at 5pm sharp.
WE DON’T LIKE
There isn’t a car park so you have to use valet parking, which can be a bit of a pain if you’ve got a spur-of-the-moment idea to go out and about.