Nestled in the South Hams, near the seaside town of Salcombe, Devon is a little place that, to me, sums up what a retreat should be. As soon as you drive down the narrow path that leads to Soar Mill Cove Hotel, you know that you will be greeted with something special.
Soar Mill Cove itself is a very small, remote sandy inlet set below the National Trust headland of Bolt Head. The cove can only be accessed on foot via the South West coast path or via the straightforward walkway that runs down from the Hotel.
The hotel is set in the private valley that overlooks the cove and boasts 22 en-suite bedrooms, including two suites, all with lounge seating area and private patio – some of which benefit from the beautiful views. There are also 3 self-catering properties situated within the grounds. It is run by three generations of the Makepiece family and you can feel the homely atmosphere as soon as you walk in. The service feels very personal and there are little touches from small bottles of milk on reception – ‘none of that UHT plastic muck here’, I was told – to the loaning of a tennis racket for the courts outside.
Food is one of the main events here and the 2 AA Rosette, award-winning restaurant is something that the staff at Soar Mill Cove Hotel pride themselves on. The views alone are worth the experience as all tables face the sea. The food is locally sourced with fresh fish readily available and local farms providing the meat. The Hotel is also famous for it’s pavlova made by Mrs Makepeace for the filmstar, Audrey Hepburn, which happily sampled as well as Soar Bay chowder, scallops with sauté leeks and a melting crab thermidor gratineé, slow cooked belly of pork with caramelised apples and melt-in-the-middle baked chocolate fondant with Langage Farm clotted cream. Menus are left outside the bedrooms each afternoon in order for the guests to make their selection prior to being seated in the restaurant that evening.
Retiring to the lounge with an after-dinner drink, you are greeted with that same sea view – which no one ever seems to tire of. It was here that I got chatting to a couple who had come away to celebrate a special birthday. Despite the pressure from their children to have a massive party, the lady had decided that she would like to get away from the world for a while and had decided on Soar Mill Cove Hotel with her husband in order to do just that. They took time out to enjoy the local area, use the spa and relax. You can see why.
On top of the food and the stunning scenery, the hotel offers a cocktail bar, 10 acres of grounds, a games room with pool and table tennis, a 9 hole pitch and putt and lawn tennis court. There are trail maps, mountain bikes, body boards and metal detectors on loan, all free of charge. For the colder days, the rooms are equipped with remote controlled free view television with DVD player and a complimentary movie library which holds upwards of 500 titles. Plus, there is both a spring-fed indoor heated swimming pool within its own self-contained spa and gym area. The Spa offers a number of treatments including organic massages and hairdressing facilities. The hotel also welcomes children and dogs.
If you are looking for a beautiful place to stay for a bit of peace and quiet combined with great food and facilities then I can highly recommend Soar Mill Cove Hotel. Just don’t tell everyone!
Rates start at £140 during low season and are per room based on 2 adults sharing & include a Cream Tea on arrival and full Devonshire Breakfast. £35 B&B per child up to, and including, the age of 16. Babies stay free of charge.
You can find more information about Soar Mill Cove on their website, on Facebook and on Twitter.
Victoria Welton writes a travel blog at Victoria Visits.