No need to fly overseas for your beach holiday fix when luxury awaits on the English Riviera at Cary Arms & Spa. The boutique hotel, owned by luxury property owners de Savary’s, exudes comfort and contemporary seaside living while also providing a nostalgic peek into the past with its traditional inn-like features. Situated in a UNESCO Global Geopark, Cary Arms marries coast and countryside with both water activities and various adventurous walks on offer. Man’s best friend is just as welcome at Cary Arms with dog-friendly accommodation and a flurry of wagging tails.
Cary Arms offers a variety of rooms ranging from the New England guest rooms with private sea-facing balconies to chic duplex Beach Huts with spacious private decks and 950 sq ft suites suspended over the bay. The beach huts are brimming with character, decorated in colourful wall art and bespoke contemporary furnishings in line with the coastal environment. Seashell lamps frame the plush bed while nautical stripes line the chest of drawers and deep blue braided rope acts as a bannister for the staircase.
The porthole window is a sure winner, providing exquisite views into the sea beyond from the comfort of your bed – it will even tempt you to wake early for sunrise. The bathroom doubles as a personal spa with White Company toiletries and snug robes. Guests are also treated to complimentary treats from the local area ranging from locally-grown apples to the night-cap-friendly Plymouth Sloe Gin, both displayed in Dartington Handmade Crystal.
Tables can be found in the conservatory while reservations must be made for the intimate glass sphere pod and the larger enticing Captain’s Table, the latter of which is recognisable by the bell ‘Please ring when the dolphins come to play’. The cuisine is reminiscent of a high-end gastro pub, with classics such as Fish & Chips featured daily on the menu. Advance notice is needed if guests wish to indulge in the Caviar-filled Tuxedo Spud, Lyme Bay Lobster or freshly-caught Seafood Platter. I opted for the fresh Brixham Scallops to start, which were perfectly cooked and served with a zingy pea and mint puree, star anise jus and black pudding.
My main of silky Hake with samphire on a bed of rosti-style new potatoes was impeccable, with just the right amount of saltiness to match the seaside setting. The staff are extremely friendly but the pub-like service on the terrace is slightly at odds with the first-class food and luxury setting. Guests must queue to order food and drink at the bar indoors as the restaurant does not offer service on the terrace. I was glad to see that service was offered at breakfast on the terrace on my final morning. However, lie-ins and lazy lounging on your private balcony isn’t frowned upon with the restaurant offering to drop off a Devon Continental Breakfast Hamper at your door in the morning.
Above the inn lies the secluded Cary Spa, the most peaceful spot on Babbacombe Bay. Pick from a variety of soothing treatments, all of which use Parisian marine skincare brand Thalgo to revive and energise the skin. My skin benefitted from the radiance-boosting facial, whose Discovery of the Sea sensory experience whisks you away from any ounce of stress.
All treatments include complimentary access to the spa facilities, such as the sauna, steam room and gym. Bathing in the infinity-like hydrotherapy pool appeals to all the senses with impressive views thanks to the full-length glass windows.
In a Nutshell
Queen Victoria said it best: ‘It’s a beautiful spot…red cliffs and rocks with wooded hills like Italy and reminding one of a ballet or play where the nymphs appear’. Follow in her footsteps as you soak up the vitamin D (or vitamin sea) at the sophisticated Cary Arms where the words luxury and picturesque are understatements.