Hotel Review: Thurlestone Hotel, near Salcombe in Devon
Encompassing all that a ‘proper Devon village’ should, Thurlestone, on the south coast, overlooking Bigbury Bay, is a magnificent one. It’s got the noble church, picturesque pub and useful shop, as you would expect, but it also happens to have a top class hotel and incredible selection of beaches to hand, either tucked in a cove or proudly stretching across the land.
Beautiful beaches aside, Thurlestone Hotel is the place to inhabit to enjoy the above listed delights and within there are events, facilities and spa treatments galore to enhance your stay at the gorgeous treasure trove that is South Devon.
I went along in the summer for a one night stay and managed to squeeze in a gin and jazz event, a tasting menu dinner at the 2AA rosette The Trevilder Restaurant, a walk around the gorgeous coast and lunch at the attached The Village Inn pub the next day. All of this took place under a glorious sunny sky with my lucky guest, Nick.
On arrival we dropped our bags off at the room, shouted the appropriate ‘wow’s at the view and headed straight to the gin and jazz afternoon that was taking place on the hotel gardens. As pretty as it gets on the beautiful lawns, with a delicious Salcombe Gin in hand and the soft sounds of jazz gracing the day, we were in heaven. The sun made a welcome appearance and at that point I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon. We returned to our room to relax on the balcony and admire the view before getting ready for dinner at The Trevilder Restaurant.
Making the most of the South Hams sun we toddled off to the terrace for a pre dinner tipple to admire the view. Dinner was a relaxed affair with food that I would go back for again and again. The seven course tasting menu delighted us both, with every dish having been put together so well, using classic pairings such as crab and cucumber or pork and apple cooked to an excellent standard. See my full restaurant and dinner review here.
Breakfast in the morning was a different experience to the night before – I think we hit a busy patch so it was a little disjointed. Having said this we were faced with a good selection of hot food from the kitchen and cold items from a buffet. Hot items included the full, vegetarian and Champagne cooked breakfast, Eggs Benedict or Florentine and grilled kippers with lemon and butter. Buffet items included fruit juices, smoothies, cereals, fruits, yoghurt, pastries, an array of milk and gluten free cereals and breads. I opted for the Eggs Florentine, while Nick went for the full English and we both agreed that they were OK but both could have been hotter. I think if we had hit it at a different time the experience would have been slightly improved.
After breakfast we wandered around the grounds taking in the hotel’s own golf course, outdoor pool and gardens before relaxing in the lounge. Decorated with fresh, vibrant flashes of colour including tangerine and lime green, against an otherwise neutral room with high backed oatmeal sofas, we decided it would be the ideal placed to enjoy one of the hotel’s afternoon teas. Of course we had lunch at The Village Inn to look forward to so we just took in the views and the peaceful atmosphere. If the beach and coastal walk wasn’t calling I could have stayed there all day with a book or magazine! Afternoon tea ranges from traditional tea and cake at £7.50 to a sparkling full offering at £29.95 to include sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, strawberry preserve, cakes, pastries, tea and a glass of Gremillet Champagne.
The facilities in the hotel are endless – as well as the aforementioned golf course and outdoor pool, there’s also an indoor pool and the Voyage Spa with a huge choice of treatments to treat yourself to using the high-end Decleor products. There are squash, badminton and tennis courts, a cocktail bar, rock pool bar and eatery at the outdoor pool, and a playground. There are a good selection of packages and spaces/suites to use if you wanted to host a special occasion, business meeting or event here and children are well catered for with a fully equipped play room, Big T’s surf club during school holidays and a DVD and games room.
The hotel hosts events such as the gin and jazz afternoon and locally, if you can find the time after all of this, there is a whole host of activities to get involved in as well as some beautiful places to visit. Water sports, the wilds of Dartmoor, picturesque market towns, stunning beaches and much more surround the area and give you a wide range of places to see and things to do on your travels.
The hotel was established in 1896 by the Grose family and has been renovated and modernised to a high standard over its lifetime, while maintaining a family run feel. The family moved from Trevilder in Cornwall to run the hotel and the recently refurbished restaurant pays tribute to this with its name. Five generations of the Grose family have had a part to play in its progression and I’m sure the 4-star, 65 room establishment has many a story to tell.
The first things we noticed about our room was its light, spacious nature and the incredible view of the coastline. On further inspection we found the bathroom to be big and very stylishly decorated. I do like a swish bathroom and this was one of the good ones, clearly recently renovated with dark wood effect floor and shelves mixing with beige wall tiles and the odd mosaic tile to create a cool, stylish room that encompassed two sinks, both with mirrors above and squirty hand cream and soap from Temple Spa. Two towel rails, an integrated bath and a separate walk in shower finished the long, spacious room.
A balcony ran the length of the room and was certainly the focal point- we were running to it like children to take photos of the outstanding view of the bay, beach, fields and hotel grounds. Deep pinky reds, creamy golds and pale brown leather decorated the furnishings, while the same gold sat on the walls. A large bed with a Vi-Spring mattress to sink into and a table with two armchairs, dark wood desk, cabinets and wardrobe made up the furniture. There were also tea and coffee facilities, a mini fridge within a cabinet, which held some fresh milk, and other features of the room included a DVD player, free Wi-Fi, comfy robes, and a hair-dryer.
We stayed in a deluxe room, which starts at £380 per room per night B&B.
THE VILLAGE INN
I have to say I love it when a hotel has a pub too and The Village Inn, which is part of the hotel but is a pub in itself, is a good one. Essentially there are two parts to it – the pub and beer garden, and the lounge. The pub is a typical village pub with a low ceiling with beams (made from the wreckage of the Spanish Armada ships) and light wood all round, while the newly decorated lounge offers something altogether more modern. It has been very well thought out in terms of its décor and includes quirky features such as oversized chess and a wall of clocks and mirrors. The room features a lot of chunky wood, mid blues, tan leather sofas and chairs, and has a dark wood floor and dark brown/gold wallpaper, which creates a sumptuous space. We weren’t deterred by our hefty dinner the night before – basically we are pigs and couldn’t resist the dishes on the menu. There were eight appetisers and bar snacks, six starters, 12 mains, seven desserts, a daily specials menu, children’s menu and sandwiches to choose from!
We took a while but I finally decided on a starter of Vulscombe goat’s cheese, apple, chicory and walnuts (£7) and from the specials for my main course, the confit duck leg, savoy cabbage, creamy mash, beer gravy (£13).
Nick liked the sound of the South Devon hand picked crab, pink grapefruit, pickled radish, pea shoots (£11) and, seeing as we were right on the coast, it would be rude not to go for the beer battered south coast cod, peas, skin on chips, tartare sauce (£13)
There was plenty of crumbly goat’s cheese on my starter with a nice selection of green leaves, thin apple slices, walnuts and a tasty dressing. This was a delicious summer dish that I would happily eat every day! Nick said his crab dish was light, vibrant and fresh with lots of good quality local crab meat to sample. My duck dish was lovely – it was a rich, sumptuous plate of food that managed to also be light and delicious for summer. Nick fish nearly finished him off, the large portion of cod was coated in a crispy, light batter and was enough for him to decide that he was too full for dessert. I forced him to share a dessert of English summer pudding with double cream (£7) – even if I ate most of it! We loved the abundance of juicy, ripe berries on the sweet soaked sponge. Nick described it as ‘summer in a bowl.’
IN A NUTSHELL
A luxury hotel with top class facilities, fine food and the most fantastic views, Thurlestone Hotel has stood tall for over a hundred years and it is easy to see why. A room, gin, swim or golf with a view, nothing else matters when the surroundings are that delightful. But luckily there is so much more to indulge in than just a stunning view to look at!
Natasha Heard was hosted by Thurlestone Hotel, a member of Pride of Britain Hotels collection (never more than 50 hotels, to guarantee quality and exclusivity). Situated on the South Devon coast near Salcombe, the hotel is a short stroll from a beautiful beach and its extensive facilities include the Voyage Spa, outdoor pool and new restaurant ‘The Trevilder’, which opened in May following a million-pound refurbishment. A one-night stay in a Sea View room costs from £230 (two sharing) including bed and breakfast. Dinner, bed and breakfast rates also available. The seven-course tasting menu costs £70 pp and £105 pp with wine flight. Call Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (prideofbritainhotels.com).