Hotel Review: The Cary Arms & Spa, Babbacombe Beach, Torquay in Devon
I’m not sure if there is a better compliment to a hotel (or inn in this case!) than its guests wanting to, firstly, not leave and, secondly, wishing they could return the very next weekend. I can’t pinpoint the exact thing that left me wanting more – I stayed for two nights, I made good use of what was on offer for guests – I was just being greedy, I wanted more of it.
The dog-friendly Cary Arms and Spa sits on its own little part of Babbacombe Bay in South Devon, near the likes of Torquay and with views, made clearer at night by the twinkling lights, of Teignmouth. With a steep, winding road to access, you know that the spot will be secluded and it didn’t matter to me as I didn’t want to go far from the inn anyway!
‘Beach hut’ makes our accommodation sound like some shabby sand-filled wood shack with enough space for a sleeping bag but this beach hut couldn’t be more different! The one-and a-half floor lodge was so stylish and fashionably decorated with fun features, colourful furniture and modern artworks against a white back drop. It was fresh, airy and contemporary and made excellent use of the views of the beautiful bay through a porthole upstairs through which the water could be seen from the bed, and patio doors running along the width of the property. Every inch of space had been made use of, it was comfortable and no expense had been spared on the furniture, fittings and décor. I loved the style, proclaiming that my next house would look just like this!
On arrival we found a bottle of wine, soft drinks and fresh milk in the fridge, some sweet and savoury treats near the espresso machine and some sloe gin on the coffee table – all of which were complimentary.
A large, bright orange, soft-brushed corner sofa sat around low glass coffee table and the lounge held quirky items including a champagne cork side table (I need one!). The floors were a light grey wood and the stairs were carpeted in a colourful, striped design. I loved the thick curtains with a pattern of paint strokes in different colours as well as the large, bright painting of the beach hanging in the lounge. There was also a remote control fire built into the wall, which looked very real and came complete with the sounds of crackling logs, offering the most cosy ambience. A large TV was mounted above and the room guide informed me there were an abundance of channels and Netflix on there.
The bedroom on the mezzanine level held a very comfortable bed with a bright, colourful throw, a blue armchair, chest of drawers, a small TV and a Velux window while the spacious shower room held a large walk-in shower, fluffy robes and towels and plenty of space around the sink to store personal items.
Each lodge had its own outdoor deck to the front (it’s how you get in) with two wooden deckchairs, foot stools and a table, with many plants separating you from your neighbours. With glass boundaries to the front, I enjoyed uninterrupted views of the water and it was the most relaxing few days spent listening to the gentle waves upon the rocks just below and watching the sun set.
Food is served throughout the day, starting with a good selection of cooked delights for breakfast (bubble and squeak with a fried duck egg, full cooked breakfast, pancakes, a bap with a choice of fillings and more) and an array of continental offerings (cheese, meats, bagels, crumpets, cake). Lunches can come cooked from the main menu or there are a selection of sandwiches to indulge in.
I enjoyed two dinners here, crafted by head chef, Ben Kingdon and my highlights were the grilled goats’ cheese starter, which came with a garlic crostini, red onion jam and basil pesto (very flavoursome and beautifully presented at £8.50) and the main course of West country fillet of beef with chips, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion rings and a peppercorn jus (excellent quality meat with good accompaniments – especially the onion rings – £29.95). The sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and honeycomb ice cream (£6.95) is not to be missed, I have often stated that I will keep trying until I find one as good as my mother-in-laws and this is the closest I have found, it was delightful.
All meals can be enjoyed from the comfort of the bar with it’s wooden beams and floors and original stone walls, the conservatory, or outside among the pretty gardens, in the covered, secluded pod or at the captain’s table – an octagonal shaped area with a large table sitting slightly further out to the water.
Don’t be fooled into thinking a beachside stay is only good when the sun shines, Cary Arms has a lot to offer. For starters there’s Cary Spa, consisting of an indoor, glass-fronted hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam room, aromatherapy light shower, gym and outdoor deck area as well as three treatment rooms with a selection of signature treatments on offer.
Using French marine-themed brand, Thalgo, treatments include facials and massages, and I was treated to a tailored 50-minute sensitive skin facial (£90) from Hannah. My skin was cleansed, exfoliated, massaged with a serum and spritzed with a gorgeous smelling mist before a thick mask was applied. While this was setting (it was so heavy I think a claustrophobic person might feel on edge!) I was given a wondrous scalp massage and was pretty devastated when it ended – it was so relaxing! The mask was peeled off giving me much relief and a lovely, rich moisturiser was applied. It was a delightful experience and I left feeling far more chilled than when I entered.
Bear in mind there is a charge for the spa facilities and I was a little disappointed that the treatment room floor was sticky and a little dirty underfoot but this did nothing to inhibit my experience.
With my guest one afternoon I joined the South West Coastal Path for a wander over to Oddicombe beach and stumbled upon the John Ayres Ukelele Proms – it was very entertaining – before taking a trip up the cliff railway. On our return to the inn we enjoyed a drink outside, entered into a few games of pool in the residents’ lounge and returned to our hut to relax and take in the view.
During your stay you can do a spot of fishing on the pier below, see the local seal and dolphin pod (if you’re lucky), take a fishing trip, partake in some water sports or visit the nearby attractions of Torquay including Bygones and Babbacombe model village – great fun for the family!
IN A NUTSHELL
So what was it that had me wishing I could stay? All of the above but mostly the peaceful, relaxing and fulfilled feeling that I came away with after a stay at this coastal haven.
A de Savary Hotel. Deluxe rooms start from £245, beach huts from £375 and beach suites from £475 per person per night B&B. Cottages from £425 per night. caryarms.co.uk / firstname.lastname@example.org / 01803 327110.
Address: Babbacombe Beach, Torquay TQ1 3LX
Phone: 01803 327110