South Sands Boutique Hotel
One of the few hotels in Devon to sit right on a beach, this New England-style hotel, near the yachtie town of Salcombe in South Devon, offers stylish, clean-cut waterside R&R in sublime surroundings. Its Blue Flag beach has safe swimming, soft sands and a sea tractor to local coves.
- Suzy Bennett, Destination expert
One of the few hotels in the UK that sits directly on a beach, this boutique property is a pebble’s skim from the gently lapping waves of South Sands beach, a beautiful little Blue Flag crescent with soft sands, safe swimming, watersports and sea tractors to surrounding beaches. For hikers, a dramatic stretch of the South West Coastal paths, to Bolt Head, starts at the back door.
Style & character
Attracting style-conscious families with a yen for simple seaside R&R, South Sands is clean cut and breezy, with a laid-back New England vibe. The entrance has a glamorous cantilevered spiral staircase leading through to a long, curved dining room, with wood floors, a restrained grey-and-white colour scheme, oars and rudders decorating the walls and floor-to- ceiling doors. Outside is a decked terrace where there are sublime views of the beach, estuary and wood-backed coves across the water.
Service & facilities
On sunny days, the decked terrace is the place to hang out and gaze across beautiful views of sailing-boat studded waters. Inside, the bar is comfortable enough for a pre-dinner drink, with bench seats scattered with nautically themed feather cushions and black-and-white photos of Salcombe in driftwood frames on the walls.
The absence of a lounge means there’s stiff competition for the two comfy leather sofas in front of the fire in the bar. To the rear of the hotel are two short-term car-parking spaces, with a larger car park a short walk away. The waiting staff, who wear casual Gingham shirts and trainers, are fresh faced, friendly, happy and enthusiastic. Housekeeping staff are, however, a little too enthusiastic, knocking on doors at 9am asking to clean rooms. There’s a free, on-demand shuttle bus to Salcombe.
- Room service
Close enough to the water that you can fall asleep listening to the swoosh of the waves, estuary-facing rooms are airy and bright, with double doors and Juliet balconies making the most of the views. Compared to the common areas, the décor in the bedrooms seems very plain, with a smattering of nautical blues just saving it from being drab. The J Class room is the best in the house, with romantic twin-roll tops looking out to sea, sun terrace and an 8ft Cesar bed. Bathrooms have double- ended claw-footed baths, plantation shutters, walk-in showers, L’Occitane toiletries and washing lines to string up wet bathing things.
Bedroom doors would benefit with being fitted with a soft-close mechanism – I was jolted awake several times in the night by the slamming of my neighbours’ doors. Fresh milk and bottled mineral is complimentary.
Food & drink
Responding to feedback from guests, the restaurant has moved from formal dining to a casual, bistro-style vibe, serving quick-to-prepare dishes for those keen to get back to the beach. As you’d expect from a seaside restaurant, menus concentrate on West Country coastal classics: plump River Fowey mussels with a sauce verde, cooked-to-perfection roasted scallops, crispy pepper calamari, tender dressed crab and locally caught fish and chips. There are juicy steaks and burgers for meat lovers and an interesting selection of sandwiches, sharing boards and bar snacks. Portions are on the small side, so order more rather than less. Desserts are particularly delicious; snap up the Tonka bean cheesecake or Eton Mess if they’re on offer.
The breakfast buffet is one of the most varied and beautifully presented we’ve encountered, offering bite-sized freshly baked pastries, a range of fruits juices and teas, extensive fruit choices and, on the continental table, carefully folded parcels of smoked salmon and neat little cheese triangles. Cooked offerings include a full English, Eggs Benedict, pancakes with bacon and maple syrup and porridge with mixed berry compote.
Value for money
Double rooms from £215 per night, year round. Two-night minimum stay at weekends. Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
One bedroom has full disabled access.
At a price. Extra beds cost £35 per night and cots £12.50 per stay, so the price for a family of four will soon mount up. There are five self-catering beach suites adjacent to the hotel designed for families of up to six.