Great British Boltholes: Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa, Salcombe, Devon

A trip to the seaside isn't just for summer – Tracy Ramsden takes a break in the UK’s most luxurious coastal destination

A trip to the seaside isn’t just for summer – Tracy Ramsden takes a break in the UK’s most luxurious coastal destination 

Why go? Proudly situated on the water’s edge, the chic Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa offers panoramic views, tranquil terraces and freshly caught seafood for those of a nautical disposition. Dubbed ‘Chelsea-on-Sea’ for its pricey real estate (a waterside apartment will set you back a tidy £3 million), Salcombe recently overtook Dorset’s swanky Sandbanks as the most expensive coastal town in the UK. While packed out in summer, this is a getaway for all seasons that doesn’t shut up shop just because the temperature drops. Now it’s blissfully free of crowds and families, so pack both your sunnies and scarves to enjoy some fresh sea air and blustery autumnal walks along the secluded, craggy coastline.

The cream of South Devon: a bedroom at the luxurious Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa

Best for: Putting the brakes on. A hub of calm, this luxurious four-star hotel is just the spot for a couples getaway or low-impact girlie weekend – all White Company linen, huge, light-blasting windows and your own private balcony overlooking the dramatic bay. If you’re not the outdoorsy type, head to the in-house spa (salcombe-harbour-hotel.co.uk/spa/), with signature ESPA products and treatments to help you unwind in luxury. You can’t go wrong with the Total Indulgence Treatment (£99 for 120 mins) which is exactly that: an all-over stimulating sea salt scrub, full body masque and facial topped off with a soothing scalp massage. Afterwards, keep things traditional with the hotel’s champagne afternoon tea on the terrace if the weather is kind (£21.50, 3pm-5pm).

The look: The exterior of Salcombe Harbour Hotel is all twinkling glass and Riviera-style decking while inside the mood is boathouse meets high-end yacht club. Think clean, wooden panelling, rope detailing and vintage fishing paraphernalia. The hallways and landings are lined with glamorous, old-fashioned seaside postcards and the small-but-chic bedrooms are simple with neat little touches. Sensor pad lighting and an in-room smart tablet for hotel info help give things a boutique edge, despite this being a relatively large, 50-room property.

Fishy treats: the Crustacean Bar at Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa

I’m hungry: Head to the hotel’s Crustacean Bar, which offers the best of that day’s catch, with a polished, upmarket café feel. The baked scallops (£3.50 each) are juicy and seared to perfection, but save yourself for dinner in the Jetty restaurant for early evening, just as the late autumn sun sinks across the harbour. The surprisingly affordable menu is down to award-winning chef Alex Aitken and small dishes like tempura king prawns (£1.75 each), Jetty Scotch egg wrapped in smoked haddock brandade (£7.95) and Salcombe crab croquettes (£8.95) make it worthwhile dining tapas-style. If you’re super-hungry, the West Country steak (from £24.95) is big on flavour and the chicken, prawn and lobster (£19.95) rich and wholesome without feeling like an assault on the tastebuds.

This is bliss whatever the weather: the Spa at Salcombe Harbour Hotel

While you’re there: Stop by the rustic, beach-worn shack that is The Winking Prawn (winkingprawn.co.uk) on North Sands Beach, open all year round for the best crab sandwiches in town. All vintage bunting and faded glamour, shelter from the wind here with a hot chocolate and a slice of their delicious homemade cakes. In town, watch local fudge being made by hand, drink Cornish ale in the Victoria Inn pub (victoriainn-salcombe.co.uk) and visit the handful of antiques stores tucked down side alleys for unique jewellery and homeware finds. In nearby Sharpitor, National Trust-owned Overbeck’s (open till 1 November; nationaltrust.org.uk) is the former cliffside home of inventor and scientist Otto Overbeck and full of quirks including a magical music box, butterfly collection and vintage dolls. If the weather’s really poor, the good news is the Salcombe Harbour Hotel also has a private cinema, with free popcorn included.

Are all inventors crazy? Find out at Overbeck’s © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

Dress code: Break out your Breton stripes, shearling gilet and deck shoes (smart, not fresh from the trawler!) and make like you’re off to the regatta.

Book now: Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa, Cliff Road, Salcombe, Devon, TQ8 8JH (01548 844444, salcombe-harbour-hotel.co.uk). Double rooms start from £175 for an inland view, or £215 for an estuary view, including breakfast, parking and wi-fi. Book a two-night Winter Coastal Escape package from £325 per couple, or check here for more offers. You’re best off driving there for the scenic route but if not, the nearest rail stations are Totnes (21 miles away) or Plymouth (25 miles). For more information visit salcombeinformation.co.uk.

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