Hotel Review: Soar Mill Cove, nr Salcombe in south Devon
A secluded spot on the coast with exceptional views, Soar Mill Cove Hotel in South Devon offers a slice of heaven.
Relax in the lounge, take a cream tea outside, laze in the pool, have a relaxing spa treatment, take an invigorating walk along the South West Coast Path or spend the evening watching the sun set beyond the hills over a delicious dinner. I partook in all of the above and I have to say I was reluctant to leave come check out time.
Most parts of the hotel offer you The View; a delicious dip in the greens hills leading to a secluded beach and I could have spent hours gazing away, in fact, I’m pretty sure I did! Soar Mill Cove Hotel has three generations of the Makepeace family instilling their hard work and values into it. It is a leisure hotel with a pool, sauna, gym, outdoor tennis courts, spa, beach, children’s play area and restaurant, cafe and bar in which to indulge.
I stayed for one night in the summer and got as much out of the experience as possible. We dropped our bags off in our room and enjoyed a stroll up the coast path towards Salcombe to take in the breathtaking scenery. A walk is a must during your stay but bring decent walking shoes as it is hilly and rocky. You don’t even have to travel very far up the trail to experience the beauty but you can of course carry on around to Salcombe one way or Bolberry Down and Hope Cove the other. The beach is secluded and offers a more relaxing option, still showcasing the beauty of the area.
Upon our return we chilled in the lounge reading the papers and some magazines in two large and very comfortable swivel chairs by the window. The sea air and walk were invigorating but left us tired and it was the perfect place in which to relax (and almost fall asleep in those chairs). Red or grey sofas and armchairs filled the room and pictures of local scenes hung on the walls upon a red striped surround.
If you’ve left and not had a spa treatment with Sophie, well then you’ve missed out! Using the glorious smelling and sumptuous feeling and natural Spa Find products, soothing treatments include facials, massages, salt brushing, hot stone massage, reflexology, manicures and waxing. I was treated to a face treatment and met Sophie in the waiting area, which has windows looking through to the salt water pool. We chatted through some medical bits and I made myself comfortable on the bed in the treatment room. The products felt luxuriously thick on my skin and I was cleansed, toned, moisturised and massaged to within an inch of my life (OK, slight exaggeration but you catch my drift). Sophie then slathered a mud mask on my face to work through the tough bits and, while this was doing its job, I was treated to a very relaxing and therapeutic scalp massage. For me, facials are the best of spa treatments, there’s no working out the knots while you lie there biting your lip and calling the therapist a few choice words in your head (sorry, is that just me?) no, you can close your eyes, inhale the scents and feel the creams being gently massaged around your face, leaving you extremely soothed and glowing, as I was. Following some after care advice (drink lots of water, avoid alcohol, etc) I returned to my room to get ready for an evening of fine dining and drinking (sorry Sophie) in the double AA rosette awarded restaurant.
Head chef, Ian MacDonald makes the most of the local larder with dishes on the menu such as Start Bay scallops and Salcombe lobster as well as offering a children’s menu. We had a drink in the Bolly Bar before – a cosy, smart and modern cocktail bar with huge bottles of Champagne on show and an extensive drinks menu, including plenty of cocktails. I opted for a Prosecco and took a seat at one of the low glass topped tables on a blue-grey armchair.
We took our seats in the restaurant (no name of its own) and were lucky enough to have a window seat so that we could admire the exceptional view of the cove. Sitting there with a gentle breeze coming in through a partially opened window, gazing out to sea with the sun setting over the hills creating the most beautiful colours in the sky and the clouds joining in to create wonderful patterns, was quite magical.
We made our dinner choices while we took in the nautical styled room and I couldn’t wait to tuck in to my starter of cheese soufflé. It’s not often you see a soufflé on a menu so I take the opportunities when I can and this Devon Blue and Cornish Yarg version was delightful. The smell, of course, was inviting in itself and it was full of flavour with the blue not being too overpowering. My warming starter had a crispy top and delicate inner – I couldn’t fault this delicious dish.
Nick was tempted by the Soar Bay Chowder, which was described on the menu as being the hotel’s classic shellfish soup in its 38th year. Nick described this dish as ‘showing real class’ with a nice selection of seafood including mussels and king prawns. He said it was fresh and uplifting with a lovely sauce, with a little effort needed to retrieve the delicate seafood from their shells, being well worth the effort.
For my main course I couldn’t resist the West Country beef fillet, which was served with horseradish creamed potatoes and crispy parsnip, red wine reduction, shallots and bacon. The ingredients looked great all stacked up in the middle of the plate, the beef was chunky, gorgeous and perfectly cooked and was complemented well with the creamy mash, green vegetables, smokey bacon, sweet shallots and crispy parsnip. Every ingredient added something to the dish and the red wine sauce was gorgeous.
Nick enjoyed his West Country rib eye steak with garlic sauté chestnut mushrooms, roast vine tomatoes, hand cut chips and a three peppercorn sauce. He said the meat was good, the chips salty with a crispy outer and there was a good amount of food on the plate. He added that there wasn’t much else to say other than it was a good steak and chips, but he was happy! Being at the seaside (and quite full from our meal so far) we opted for some ice cream, which came with chocolate wafer sticks.
The restaurant space is open plan and fresh with patio doors and windows lining the front wall. Dark wood tables and duck egg blue armchairs sit on a wood floor and walls are painted white and duck egg with images of Salcombe yawl races and other boats offering colour and telling a story of local life. A piano sits in one corner and the relaxed atmosphere led by instrumental music serenading you over dinner reflects the nature of the hotel and the surrounding area.
Our room was spacious, holding a double bed and single, leaving plenty of room for a fourth bed, making it ideal for families. The walls were white apart from a feature wall, which held turquoise leaf patterned wallpaper, matching the green carpet and a dressing table, coffee table, chest of drawers and bedside tables were cream with a wood top. Towards the front of the room was a small lounge area with two dark leather tub chairs and footstools, which matched the bed’s headboard. There were patio doors leading to our own patio area, which held two sun loungers and a table and two chairs. We had a great view of the garden, hills and water. There was a modern bathroom with a wood floor, cream tiles behind the bath and white covering the rest of the room, and a square sink and bath.
We took breakfast in the restaurant and there was a hot selection including a full Devon breakfast, a vegetarian version, porridge, omelette, kippers, smoked salmon and more. I enjoyed some items from the cold buffet (croissant, fruit, juice) as well as the veggie breakfast, which consisted of sauté potatoes, mushrooms, veg sausage, fried egg, and tomato, but no beans (sigh!). It was raining but you can’t have it all and that’s what the spa is for!
Everyone at the hotel does their bit to be as accommodating as possible, the evening menu is delivered to your room so that you can order your food whenever you like; you can take your drink, cream tea or breakfast anywhere and breakfast timings are 8.30 to 10.30 but don’t let that restrict you, it says so! Just relax, breathe and enjoy the soothing surroundings.
In a nutshell
Soar Mill Cove is a peaceful place with a mesmerising view. There is no phone signal so you are forced to relax and there is plenty to do, but if you don’t want to do anything simply relax in the pool, lounge, bar, beach, or let Sophie transport you to a place of pure relaxation.
Address: Soar Mill Cove Hotel, Nr Salcombe, South Devon, UK TQ7 3DS / soarmillcove.co.uk