By Paul Johnson on August 25, 2022 in Accommodation, Europe, Featured, Nightlife, Hotels, Leisure Travel, Regions, Restaurants, Spas & Treatments, Specialty Travel, UK, Western Europe
The high end Cary arm and spa is nestled among the rocks perched above Babbacombe Bay in South East Devon, an area twice visited by Queen Victoria when she was in her 20s and 30s. Accommodation consists of 10 contemporary rooms and suites, 6 luxury beach cabins and 2 beach suites, all with stunning sea views.
The hostel also rents out a number of nearby coastal cottages and is part of the international collection of Properties of Savarywhich includes Mount Cinnamon in Grenada and a number of different properties in the UK, from the 16th century The Merry Harriers in Surrey to the treehouses and shepherds’ huts at Dittisham Hideaway, also in Devon.
The descent to the hotel is steep, but don’t worry: a valet parking service is available to facilitate check-in. There are three parking spaces right outside the hotel entrance and a driver will kindly drive your car to the hotel car park which is a short distance up the hill. You can pick it up from there or have someone bring it to the entrance for you as you need it. After parking in front of the entrance and unloading our luggage (they will help you if you need it), we were personally escorted to our accommodation.
We stayed in beach cabana number 4 – the cabanas have a loft with a super comfy king-size bed with a shiny tile throw, a TV and a porthole at pillow level that looks directly out to sea. A large fan fan ceiling helps keep the cabin cool during the summer months.
Back downstairs, a large folding glass door lets in plenty of natural light and a large sofa and colorful artwork add to the light and airy feel of this contemporary cabin. There is a Netflix compatible smart TV, DVD player and Sonos music system, Smeg mini fridge, Nespresso machine, electric kettle and free Wi-Fi.
Outside, a deck with two wooden sun loungers and ottomans, along with gorgeous sea views, provide guests with the perfect setting to relax peacefully and keep an eye out for Sammy the seal (we’re here). saw!) or the dolphins visiting the bay.
Although we visited in the summer, the beach hut is suitable all year round, fitted with a contemporary crackling effect, fireplace and underfloor heating.
Each cabin, including its outdoor space, covers 560 square feet (52 square meters) and is dog-friendly.
The bathroom of our beach hut, also on the ground floor, has a large walk-in rain shower.
White Company toiletries are provided, as are bathrobes, slippers, and a hairdryer.
The Cary Arms operates an informal AA Rosette-awarded pub-style restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, cream tea and dinner, run by Executive Chef Steve Poyner. If the weather permits, as was the case during our stay, you can dine al fresco on the lovely stone terraces that flow into the sea.
The Captain’s Table – a raised platform that points out the panoramic views around the bay – is available for private dining but must be reserved in advance. Next to it is a bell that you can ring if you spot dolphins, to alert others to your sighting.
There’s a sun-lit veranda for indoor dining, plus a cozy lounge where guests can enjoy an aperitif or nightcap, complete with a fireplace, chessboard, and shelves full of books. The menu has a good range of classic dishes and seafood specialties. Any special dishes not on the menu (eg lobster or seafood platter or any other favorite) can be ordered by giving advance notice 24 hours.
We had the most delicious dinner of our stay. Our starters were the seared Brixham scallops, beautifully succulent and presented with mashed peas, basil pesto and chorizo, and the smoked duck breast, with a salad of peaches, arugula and panzanella with toasted almonds and a balsamic glaze .
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For our mains we had the West Country beef tenderloin, cooked just to my liking (rare) with hand cut fries, onion rings, tomato, mushroom and pepper jus and, among the specials, a delicious breaded monkfish burger with chorizo jam, garlic mayonnaise, fries and a mixed salad.
The dark chocolate brownie, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream ended a great evening.
We didn’t use it on this visit but the hotel also has a spa with two treatment rooms that use the GAIA Skincare brand, as well as a sauna, steam room, and hydrotherapy pool.
Perched on Babbacombe Bay and on the route of the South West Coastal Path, The Cary Arms is 23 miles south of Exeter. It’s only a minute’s walk to Babbacombe beach below, or a 15-minute walk to Oddicombe beach across the bay. The town of Babbacombe has its own theater and can be reached on foot from the hotel or by funicular from Oddicombe beach.
The hostel is a short drive from the harbor towns of Torquay (8 minutes), Paignton (20 minutes), Brixham (30 minutes) and Brixham (55 minutes), while the edge of Dartmoor is around 30 minutes’ drive away. inland. Nearby attractions include Babbacome Model Village (4 minutes), Torre Abbey (10 minutes), Cockington Country Park (15 minutes), Berry Pomeroy Castle (25 minutes) and the National Trust’s Greenway (30 minutes).
There are also endless activities to enjoy nearby – golf at Teignmouth Golf Club (20 mins), horse riding at Haldon Riding Stables (35 mins), water sports and river cruises. We were in the area to attend a national sailing competition organized by the Royal Torbay Yacht Club in Torquay.
While there is plenty to see and do in the area, your days could also be spent simply soaking up the hotel’s immediate surroundings. My son, who competed in sailing but also competed in triathlons, enjoyed swimming across the bay and running along the coast.
Other little touches
A complimentary carafe of sloe gin, snacks, and a pre-loaded Smeg mini-fridge with a bottle of wine, soft drinks, and water are just a few of the little extras we found in our cabin. Turndown service is also available if desired.
The hotel also has a selection of fishing rods available free of charge. The jetty at Babbacombe beach is a popular place to cast a rod with local anglers who tend to land a good catch of mackerel. If you are successful and want to take your mackerel back to the hotel, the kitchen team will be happy to cook it for you. Lightly baked and served with butter, lemon and salad is their recommendation!
Luxury beach cabins start from £475 per night including breakfast.
The best piece
While there’s a lot to admire about The Cary Arms, it’s hard to look past the inn’s stunning beachfront location as a highlight. Add to that the opportunity to dine al fresco in this beautiful setting and you wonder if traveling abroad is necessary.
The final verdict
The Cary Arms and Spa exudes a very special charm with a relaxed atmosphere. Known as “the inn on the beach”, this five-star property is informal and laid-back, yet professionally run with attentive staff – the perfect recipe for a relaxed getaway on the English Riviera.
Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by The Cary Arms and Spa.
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