The Cary Arms & Spa in Devon's delightful Babbacombe Bay has rooms, beach huts, cottages and spots to eat in an idyllic location – Heather Clark paid a visit.
Nestled at the bottom of a hill on the beach at Babbacombe, the Cary Arms & Spa isn’t so much a hotel as a collection of different options. There’s the former pub which gives the place its name, but beyond that are six recently-built beach hut lodges and two beach suites, plus a cluster of former fisherman’s cottages – including the recently refurbished Cove Cottage, whose views are breathtaking – and a luxurious spa area.
We stayed in one of the luxurious Beach Huts, situated only feet away from the water, with a private sun-deck. You feel a world away from the nearest road or town as you sit and watch the sea in the quiet serenity of the cove.
The Cary Arms is owned by Lana de Savary, wife of Peter de Savary, and the family’s experience in creating lovely places has clearly been used. The place has won all sorts of awards – most recently one for excellence in boutique accommodation from Visit Britain.
There were all manner of little details which in our beach hut didn’t go unnoticed: we were greeted with a decanter of sloe gin which was delicious, while the complimentary mini bar was stocked with a bottle of wine as well as bottled water, soft drinks, biscuits and chocolates. Even the robe and slippers to pop down to the spa – small but perfectly formed with an indoor/outdoor infinity pool perfectly arranged to give the best views of the Jurassic coastline – were beautiful.
As was the location itself, of course. You can see why they’ve dubbed this part of Devon the English Riviera: the pull of the clear waters around the bay is compelling, and even in April – albeit on a particularly warm day – there were many local children enjoying the sea, paddle-boarding, snorkelling and daring each other to jump off the pier into the beautiful blue sea. Idyllic.
Food and drink
The pub and restaurant are very popular, for good reason: the food is delicious and superbly fresh, using local ingredients from Devon beef to Lyme Bay lobster and local seafood.
If the weather is good you can dine al fresco in the terraced gardens, by the outside fire or the dolphin lookout post. Guests of the beach huts and beach suites have an exclusive outside seating area, so you will always find room to relax and enjoy.
If you visit in the colder months, it’s no less alluring: the bar drips with West Country charm. Think beamed ceilings, stone walls and pints of decent beer next to a roaring log fire.
Things to do
Bring your dog
Dogs are very welcome at the Cary Arms – it seemed every other person had a four-legged friend with them.
Look out for dolphins – and don’t forget to ring the bell
This is, in our view, the best sign ever. A pod of dolphins regularly frequents Babbacombe Bay – what a lovely idea to make sure as many guests as possible get to see them.
Hit the coastal path
The Cary Arms is on a prime position for the South West Coast Path, or for a shorter option head into the town of Babbacombe and reward yourself for the uphill climb with an ice cream at Scoopy Doo’s on Babbacombe Road.
Have a treatment
Ice cream alone may not soothe your aching muscles at the end of your day, but the spa has all manner of options. I highly recommend the ‘tailored body massage’ to ease the tension after a stimulating day of coastal walks.
The Cary Arms, a de Savary Hotel, has deluxe rooms starting from £245, beach huts from £375 and beach suites from £475 per room per night on a B&B basis. Cottages from £425 per night. www.caryarms.co.uk / firstname.lastname@example.org / 01803 327110
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