A killer location and award-winning food make the Cary Arms and Spa our top choice for a cosy weekend on the English Riviera
People mainly go the Cary Arms Hotel and Spa for its unique location on the edge of a cliff overlooking the breath-taking pebble beach of Babbacombe, which is reached via a steep winding coastal road. With a host of local attractions such as the South West Coastal Path and the pretty harbour towns of Brixham and Dartmouth nearby, there is plenty to see. And yet, with the regions’ best spa onsite and a restaurant that many visitors to the area journey from miles around to sample, the challenge will be leaving the hotel at all (aside for a bracing walk on the neighbouring beach).
The Cary Arms effortlessly combines that old-world charm of a traditional country inn with the luxury and comfort of a five-star hotel. Expect a warm relaxed welcome as you enter the hotel through the low ceilinged pub restaurant. In the adjacent room you’ll find a billiards table, comfy sofas, an open fire and board games to help you kick back and relax. The décor is a comforting mix of nautical-themed accessories from vintage anchors and boat lights to a ship’s compass. The rooms, however, are contrastingly fresh and modern, with pale neutral tones and a pared back vibe. Choose from staying in the main house, or in the variety of blue and white luxury beach huts overlooking the sea with their distinctly new England feel. Staff here excellently tread that fine line between warm and friendly and highly attentive, with their chatty and informal approach. However, they’ll always be on hand to offer local expertise on the area, and you’ll get that level of service you’d expect at any five-star hotel.
Don’t leave without visiting what was, for us, the highlight of the weekend: the spa, which housed in a modern glass-fronted building on the upper level. Features include a waterfall hydrotherapy pool, steam room, sauna, sun terrace, exotic shower (with sound effects including thunderstorms and tweeting tropical birds)… it’s a must do. We also sampled the ultra relaxing marine-based Thalgo facial and full body massage and fell asleep promptly after. Bliss.
The restaurant here is an upmarket twist on great gastro pub fare. Dishes are locally sourced and seasonal with a regularly-changing menu that spans Devon beef, locally caught fish and Lyme Bay lobster. The biggest challenge is not filling up on the delicious freshly baked bread they bring out at the start of every meal, but you have to leave space for gems on the menu such like Devon crab and crayfish cocktail and Pan seared Brixham scallops with chorizo and cauliflower puree. As for mains, our favourites were the oven baked hake fillet with pak choi and homemade pesto, and the local lamb with sweet potato. Oh, and don’t forget to try the sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and honeycomb ice cream! Fans of a hearty start to the day will be pleased, too: it can be confirmed that the full cooked breakfast is pretty special too.
If you’re in need of a rejuvenating spa break at the Cary Arms Hotel and Spa, book the two-night Spa Retreat for 2 in a Luxury Room with full English Breakfast and a 50 minute spa treatment for £245 per person